Archives for category: yummy

Despite the obscene amount of money I’ve dropped in Sweden (and I know you’ve all been glued to our plummeting exchange rate with the Swedish kronor, so I don’t need to tell you I’ve been makin’ it rain here just to buy groceries) – the universe still seems to think I’ve come in under budget. So tonight, following a really lovely farewell dinner with my entire BGA department at my favorite uber-spendy restaurant in Stureplan, I came home feeling on top of the world…to find an email from my dentist saying that I owe an additional $300 for some fillings I had done before the trip. Does anyone else’s dentist email them? Is this weird? Either way, I distinctly remember clutching my chest and gasping oh dear god as I handed them my credit card way back in August, so I can only guess that the fact that they’ve come back for more is just a big cosmic haha. The out-of-pocket amount I will have ultimately forked into my teeth this year just makes the idea of “dental insurance” a mean company joke. You got me, Bonnier!

But no matter. My healthy, reinforced teeth and I are off to Paris on Thursday where we will rip into a French turkey with the kind of reckless dining abandon that only comes with spending $1,100 on dental repairs. For that kind of money you’d better believe I’m going to chew on solid steel just for the hell of it. Anyway I get to leave Stocky at 4:30 am – a decision I almost certainly made because this flight was $4 cheaper than the others – and I’ll be meeting my mom there a few hours later for my first taste of family bonding in three months.

I may or may not have time to blog tomorrow before I get sucked into my important and all-consuming TV routine (and packing, but mostly the TV thing), so just in case, Happy Thanksgiving to all! This year, among your many blessings, remember to count your teeth as well…all 32 of them.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with possible ways to wrap up a short-term, Scandinavia-themed blog since my time is almost up and I have to go back to Florida soon. Returning to life in Orlando kind of renders a Wheeee! I’m in Sweden! blog pointless, no? If there’s a precedent for what to do about this, please let me know.

I’ve considered employing the poignant ending technique for my final blog, whereby I conjure up something even more meaningful and bittersweet than this post and use it to inspire readers with a travel-ish call-to-action, like voluntourism. That would be a really lovely and appropriate way of tying up this whole experience with a pretty bow, and it would also give me a shot at publishing this entire blog as a memoir and making billions of dollars. But wooow, I get bored even thinking about having to write a mushy reach for the stars! finale. No. No way. You can keep your money. (Besides, I work in magazine publishing…I’m filthy rich.)

I also thought about ending with some sort of deliberate literary flair for the fiction readers out there — perhaps channeling the Stieg Larsson series by racing out at the last minute and getting an enormous dragon tattoo on my back (because no one would see that coming), then maybe tazing a very tall blonde man and setting fire to my laptop on a deserted cobblestone street in Södermalm. I think we can all agree that would make an amazing final blog post. But if I did that I wouldn’t have a computer anymore, and I think you get in trouble for tazing people here, so that idea’s out.

I’ve considered ending with an unexpected twist, like revealing that I was never actually in Sweden but I thought it would be a hilarious social experiment à la I’m Still Here to trick you for three months: “Baaahaha! I’m really on a leave of absence in Missouri but I totally had you guys going with my grilled cheese stories!” But see, I just tried it right there and it isn’t that funny.

Out of all of the literary devices in the world, I really cannot think of a way to put an end to this beast. This is the same reason I don’t just write a damn book already. Endings are too hard! So my last official Sweden post on Wednesday is probably going to be super lame and anti-climactic — most likely something about butter or rain boots. But then again, look at this blog. Look at it. In what will surely be remembered as the single lamest account of living abroad, ever, in the history of mankind, I’ve basically spent three months documenting nothing but mundane details. So maybe ending with a random post about shoelaces really is the way to go.

Stay tuned to see what happens. Five days left.

When all is said and done — the last Swedish translation written, and the last meatball inhaled — how do you adequately measure three months in Stockholm? Well in terms of butter, the answer is 600 grams. This occurred to me a minute ago as I scraped the last little bit of salty lard from the tub, and realized that this is the second 300 gram brick of butter I’ve purchased for the apartment. Luckily, I have no concept of the metric system so that number means nothing to my waistline. (This is the same principle as the unintelligible nutrition info on my sour cream and onion chips. If you can’t read it, the calories don’t count.)

It took me 10 weeks to realize that my apartment is not equipped with a can opener. But you know what? I can now say from experience that hunger is the true mother of invention, and when the only thing standing between you and dinner is a flimsy tin can, things can get a little savage. And to think mom said I’d never survive in the wild!

I’m afraid of tap water. There, I said it.

I’ve had to defend this on a number of occasions, and yes, I know that it’s stupid. I know that most bottled water is just tap water in a pricy plastic container. I know that regulations for purifying tap water in most states and many other countries are far more stringent than the rules for bottling. I know. But I grew up with well water, so my little toddler spongebrain learned at a young age to equate all taps with smelly, unpurified goo from my own backyard. (This is not even to mention the many teenage hair crises I faced as a result of the hard water.) As with any lifelong phobia, it just is what it is now…I’m terrified of the sink.

Now let me tell you about Sweden. These folks la-la-la-loooove their water. It’s rare to sit down in a restaurant without the waiter mentioning — in some flowery, exaggerated way — just how delicious it is. Some of them will even stand at your table to watch you take your first sip, waiting for the OMG, this really IS the best water I’ve ever had! reaction, which you do sort of feel obliged to give them. I mean they’re just standing there.

We’re a few days into Week 9 now, and I’m still grappling with an iron fortress of sick psychological barriers that keep me from truly enjoying this free OMG water. And so yes, I do still find myself in the supermarket a couple times a week, ogling (sometimes touching) the pretty 1.5 liter bottles of my old beloved companion, Evian. But I will say this — there is one surefire way to cure a phobia, and that is poverty. The smallest bottles of water here are 20 kronor, and depending on this fickle exchange rate, that can be almost $3. For the little ones!

So I drink the tap water.

Most of the time. Ok, not really, I still buy bottles a lot. But under the watchful eyes of waiters, I’ve been drinking a ton of this tap stuff. And for the record it does taste fine, and I do believe them that this water is among the most rockstar amazing liquid, anywhere, ever. But I feel like just admitting that is enough for now.

Central Station (farm4.static.flikr.com)

I gave in and bought a metro card yesterday. I was trying so hard to avoid doing this while I’m here, first of all because they are friggin’ expensive, and second, because it’s an obvious sign of weakness. The metro is for people who are lazy and uninspired, poor lost souls who prefer the convenience of cramming their bodies and belongings sardine-like into a tiny moving train six stories underground, rather than just putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the fresh air and scenery on street level. The metro is for wusses.

But now I have joined their ranks, because folks, it is just too effing cold out there. I can’t do that walk anymore, especially now that the party is over and it rains every day. I did everything I could to prolong this moment…I tried walking varied routes to and from work to keep it fresh and fun; I made a game of finding delicious new cappuccino spots along the way; I even bought really adorable brand name, not-affordable rain boots so I could better play the part of the seasoned and fashionable Stockholmer who scoffs at the very sight of a metro station. But I’m weak.

I bring this up because I’m afraid there are implications. I have someone else’s butt now. I found it when I wasn’t even looking for a new one — just minding my own business, walking three or four miles a day on steep terrain — but it’s mine now, and I want to keep it. It is the behind of a spry little teenager who kicks and jumps just for fun. It’s unexpected and wonderful. And now it’s in jeopardy. How can I possibly hold on to the glory if I start taking the train to work? This is bad, guys. I might have to give up my sour cream and onion chips.

Here’s a question for anyone who lives in Stockholm, has spent an extended period of time here, or just knows things about things: Why can’t I find a loaf of bread – anywhere, of any variety – that will last longer than three days? Most of the bread I buy doesn’t even make it to the expiration date. What am I doing wrong? It’s really cutting into my grilled cheese economy of scale. On a related note, though, I have absolutely mastered the making of those gooey, cheesy, delicious sandwiches now. I challenge anyone to make a better one. Nay, I double dare you. I will dominate all of you.

The “new” has settled into more of a livable routine now. All of the cute and seasonally inappropriate dresses I brought have been neatly tucked away in a closet I never use, and a rotation of jeans and warm sweaters have taken their place. Grocery shopping is down to a science (made easier by the recent grilled cheese infatuation), and my projects at the office are real and familiar work now – not busy work, as they are wont to be at the start of a new job.

This comfy routine has also given way to a few revelations:

1. Apparently I like sour cream and onion chips, because I’m averaging a bag a week. I’m pretty sure that the last time I actually purchased a bag of potato chips in Florida Life, I was a teenager, but here, they’re a part of my day and I rely on their crunchy goodness.

2. Away from my own furniture and my “stuff,” I’m not nearly the neat freak I usually am. The same girl who scoured the kitchen every single night at home has yet to think twice when the dishes pile up for three days here. I still clean my bathroom regularly, but I’ve not picked up the vacuum once yet. Its buttons are in Swedish, though I do realize that turning one on is pretty universal, so this is a weak excuse.

3. Even with only two channels and rarely anything interesting on TV, I still haven’t touched the two ab workout DVDs I packed with good intentions. Apparently, these are a last resort no matter where you live or how many times you’ve seen that same episode of How I Met Your Mother.

4. I drink way more cappuccino than is healthy or advisable for my size – even more than my previous twice-a-day Starbucks trips at home would imply – and I eat far fewer vegetable servings because they cost four times more here. No matter my relatively healthy lifestyle in Florida Life, it’s been surprisingly easy to return to a college diet when the price is right.

5. And it turns out I really don’t miss my closet full of clothes, or any of my belongings at all, but I do miss these guys. A lot.

Sometimes when you stop blogging for too long – say, to travel around Europe for a week, and then to catch up on a marathon of Cops and Family Guy on Swedish syndication when you’re back – you lose your motivation to write. It’s not for lack of stories to tell – in the last week, I’ve been in three countries and I have probably a hundred things I could write about here. I could even fall back on another ugly photo collage to fill some bloggie space. Oooh, actually, maybe I’ll make one after this…

But the point is, I feel rather out of shape. So let’s just agree to consider tonight’s post a training blog. I will write some stuff that isn’t particularly compelling or organized and with absolutely no theme or story arc, just to get back on the wagon here, and you (three people who read this) will support me in that. You will!

So first thing’s first, because most of my posts have to contain some variation of this topic (I don’t make the rules): It’s freezing here. Like really, really cold, and not just because I think temperatures in the 60s are chilly. Lately, I’ve been conducting my usual 2-mile commute-on-foot in morning temps of around 30 degrees. 30!! And we’ve barely scratched October. November is going to be a long month, folks.

Also on the weather subject, I should mention here that all week long, there has been an ice cream truck blaring its universally creepy music outside my apartment at around 9 PM. Every night. This seems not only an odd season for it, but also time of day, and neighborhood, because everyone in Östermalm is retired and old and looong asleep with their pomeranians by that hour. And yet, I too am always in my pajamas by then, so I never make it downstairs for a push pop either. That’s right, I’m really living it up Euro-style these days. 29 is the new 80.

On a slightly less lame note, I’ve had grilled cheese for dinner four nights in a row now (I said slightly less), and I have just enough cheese left for another one tomorrow. This may sound sad to you, but with all the $26 meatballs and heavy cream sauces I’ve been eating every day, I am LOVING grilled cheese week. And so is my credit card. This is a trend I actually plan to continue until I pay off the Prague trip, so don’t expect any exciting “OMG I had the most delicious fois gras last night” posts in the near future. Or ever, because fois gras is gross.

Ok now I feel like doing the ugly photo collage thing so stay tuned.

Blog, you are a bottomless pit. No matter how much I post, you always need more or you just end up looking sad and abandoned. It’s tedious.

Anyway, here’s the latest…the Frankfurt beast of a book fair is coming up next week, so work has reeeeally been a grind the last few days. I’ve been focusing on English translations for about two dozen different authors and manuscripts – which is a lot, just trust me – and in my spare time I’ve been piloxing and African dancing my little butt off in company gym class (side note: the classes are either getting way, way harder or I’ve been snacking on one too many Swedish pastries lately…side note to the side note: my group has an obscene amount of client meetings, always involving mountains of sugary baked goods, so a twice-daily drive-by of the conference room is usually part of my routine. I have no will power whatsoever around cookies and cinnamon rolls).

In related news, tonight I had a banana for dinner – a nasty little bruised and gooey one I lugged home from the company-sponsored fruit-in-the-break-room program. In other words, the only thing I could afford. If you know me at all, you know I would rather eat my own foot than go near a ripe banana – I only like the really tart green ones – but clearly this is a new era. A very cold, impoverished era in which I only consume found-food on the weekdays. TGIPayday tomorrow is all I have to say.

Annnnd, I think that’s it. I’ll end here and just add that it’s COLD. Very, very cold. And there’s really not a good picture to go with any of what I just wrote so I’ll just include a night shot of a fountain. Such a compelling blog post from start to finish.