Friday, April 17, 2009

Little Sweeden USA . . .

I took today off from work. Spent some time with the 'rents. It was a rainy and gloomy day so we decided to roll north to Little Sweeden, USA.

That's right. For those of you on "the coasts" - if you are looking for Sweeden, only smaller, you are going to have to chart a course for Kansas.

I'm not one to really know the subtle differences of European cultures.

I know the Crepe is French. I know that pasta comes from China (with credit to Italy) and I know that the Nazis were German. I know that my favorite Communist of all time (Olga) comes from Russia and I know that Big Ben chimes in London.

The rest is all just European Pops and Buzzes perpetuated, as Tom Friedman would likely agree, by the introduction of the Euro, an increasingly blurring line between cultural and national roles and heritages and a growing appreciation of the "finer" things that any given culture has to offer by the neighbors, fans, enemies and competitors of that nation.

I don't understand European fashion. What is up with the shoes the men wear and the armpit hair the woman grow? (DISCLAIMER - I am speaking in broad, stereotyped brush strokes here for the sake of showcasing me as an idiot, not to put down the Europeans) What is up with the every Parisian I've ever met speaking gooder English than me and every Italian I've ever met either being drop-dead stunning or, uh, not at ALL drop-dead stunning? What is up with the dual rise of majolica as a pottery glazing technique that is "uniquely" Italian AND "uniquely" Portuguese? What is up with how good Portuguese food is?

I digress.

I have a point, I hope.

We walked around Little Sweeden for about 90 minutes. We stopped in shops. We posed for pictures with the Dala Horses that dotted Main Street and we perused the art galleries. All while smelling the delicious cuisine coming out of the restaurants, cafes and shops and all while enjoying the authentic Sweedish music being pumped in to the streets (literally) from the light poles along main street.

Finally - we had had enough. We had to eat (well Gamma and Gampa did, Ava wanted to go to the park and Joy was anxious to go to the bathroom). We settled in to one of the restaurants on Main Street and ordered the buffets - all around.

I went up and perused the offerings. LOTS of starches. Lots of soups. Lots of mystery gravies, sauces and desserts. Some pasta. Some beef. I grabbed three ounces of the beef, some cheese, two slices of cucumbers and headed back to the table and pondered what it means to eat "Sweedish" food.

Three foods come to mind . . .

1 - Sweedish Fish. Loved 'em. Used to eat them by the box. The Sam's Club sized box, to be specific.
2 - Sweedish Meatballs. Never really got in to them. Not sure why not. They have all the things I should love about a dish.
3 - Hot Dogs. They sell them at the cafe in Ikea. I just said I don't like Sweedish Meatballs. What else would I eat when I went to the home furnishing superstore?

More than just Sweedish foods, I pondered how the various cuisines of Europe might either further, or minimize obesity and how it is that Europeans, as a whole, have such smaller waist lines and healthier lifestyles despite the Freidman-supported influence of American culture on the continent.

Anywho - deep thought abandoned. Ava was dipping her cucumber in gravy and mushing crackers in her hands. I had bigger problems than worldwide obesity and cuisinal influences throughout Europe on my hands.

PS - Full disclaimer. I am an idiot. I called Imp at the office to see if I could bring her back one of those tasteful "__________ Parking Only" signs or "___________'s make the Best Coffee (and Lovers)" mugs that they sold in the gift shops and - when she informed me she was partially Norweigan, I asked, sadly "That is Norway, right?" Uggh. Tom Friedman is laughing at my expense right now. Again. Bastard.

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