Thursday, August 30, 2012

Visiting is hard work

So I've covered the wedding and the birthday party bike ride. I think now we should talk about eating in Sweden. Every time we visit we end up with at least several days of what I think of as "marathon eating." We start in the morning right after breakfast and drive from table to table, returning home only when the last coffee carafe is empty and there's nothing but crumbs left on every plate, usually close to bedtime. Put a couple of days like this together, or too many of them in a two week visit and my body rebels. It's not just the quantity that causes trouble, it's also the content. I live in an olive oil and pasta environment. Sweden is butter and cheese and cream.

One morning we got up, ate our breakfast, did something interesting I'm sure and  then had 11 coffee a little early so we could be good and hungry for lunch at Mimmi and Sune's. They're neighbors that Leif has known forever and are very lovely people. She always makes riced potatoes for me because the first time we ate there she made them and I told her how they reminded me of when I was younger and my grandmas and mom would make them.

Along with those riced potatoes were pork fillets in a creamy chanterelle sauce and bread with butter, of course. I suppose there was another vegetable of some kind, but I can't remember now. That's because after everyone, including me, had seconds we had to have dessert. Ice cream with caramel sauce and raspberries and tiny meringue cookies. I was making pretty good headway on my smallish (emphasis on -ish) bowl of ice cream when suddenly I froze. My spoon was suspended half-way between my bowl and my mouth and I just couldn't seem to move it. Not only that but when I wanted to say "Holy cow I can't move!" I couldn't talk either.

I'm pretty sure at that moment I was in the grip of a sugar coma. I couldn't talk (which was no great loss as the only person at the table with English was Leif) and I couldn't move. I felt like I was being pressed down into the earth and like I was floating, all at the same time. I'm not even sure I was breathing. I just sat there holding my spoon out and trying to telepathically communicate with Leif. Obviously we haven't been married long enough for the telepathy thing to work consistently yet. He just sat there smiling at me like everything was fine.

And as quickly as it started, it went away. Even though I was pretty sure it was the sugar that did it, I'm a Minnesotan through and through. I finished that bowl of ice cream down to the bottom. But slower now. I wasn't sure I could manage another sugar coma. Funny thing is that even though I thought it was obvious something was wrong with me, Leif says he didn't notice anything unusual. I guess those two minutes I thought I sat there holding my spoon and my breath was really more like two seconds.

We went straight from lunch with the neighbors to coffee with one of Leif's car buddies and his wife. His dad came along for the short trip to a nearby town because he likes to talk cars and he likes coffee. They brought the carafe, cookies and coffee cake outside to enjoy the sunshine. We weren't allowed to leave until the whole cake and most of the cookies were gone. I was starting to feel a little like a beached whale by now. Between the food, sugar and coffee I was wishing I could unbutton the top button of my pants. Discreetly of course.

As we got ready to leave Leif's buddy told us that there was a festival at another town that we might enjoy. "Great food," he said. That didn't impress me much at this point. "Oh, and a car show," he added. Words in Swedish were exchanged between Leif and his dad.

"So..." Leif said, "should we head home? Or should we stop by this festival?" He tried to act all casual and his dad wouldn't look me in the eye and it was so obvious that they wanted to go that I didn't even mess with them although I really wanted to. I said yes and before the word was out of my mouth they hustled me into the car and headed off in a new direction.

I totally forgive them both because even though I had to walk through acres (or hectares, if you want to get all metric) of classic cars, the majority of them were classic American cars and I could at least relate somewhat to them. We looked at Mustangs and Chevys, a Ford Model A and Mustangs, Alpha Romeos and Mustangs, VW's and Mustangs. I mistakenly thought I'd see a lot of European cars here, but no. Mostly Mustangs. Crazy. It's entirely possible that there are more Mustangs in Sweden than there are in California. (most of the license plates were from CA)

But before they browsed through the cars they showed me something special. This town, unlike many I've been to, really does have a castle. An honest to goodness castle with a moat. Towers. A wall. Crenelations. Almost a draw bridge. It was awesome and amazing and I couldn't believe that I didn't have my camera.

Strange as it may seem, after all those cars the guys were feeling a little hungry and asked if I wanted to get a bite at a bar in town and thus began our search for a bar with reasonably priced food and more importantly a big screen TV as Sweden had a football match on and they wanted to watch it. We gave up after a 10 minute search and got back in the car and drove off.

"Oh, look," Leif said as a truck stop came into view, "Do you want a hamburger Michele?" This was said in that voice I used to use with the kids when I wanted them to do something but wanted them to think it was their idea. You all know what it sounds like.

I may have sighed out loud. "I assume they have a TV here," I said. "Sure." Although I probably wasn't hungry and certainly not for a hamburger. But I had one anyway, and french fries. So I had yet another meal while they watched the game.

 I think we got home sometime after 10 pm. It was one long day filled with food and distinctly male activities. But I survived it; sugar coma, car show and all.

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