COLUMN : winter in sweden – a love hate story

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i’ve always had a love hate relationship with the swedish winter. and to be honest, most of it is hate.

love the smells – mulled wine, oranges, christmas firs, cloves, and hyacinths.
hate the cold – cars not starting, slippery pavements, throat hurting when breathing, sleet and hard winds on the dark wet streets of stockholm.

love the dark evenings – snuggling up in the sofa, candle-light, watching home alone 2, hot chocolates, and nat king cole.
hate the dark mornings, days, afternoons – last november, stockholm had 2 sun hours. 2. enough said.

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love the holiday spirit – the extra kindness in the air, the advent calendar, christmas carols, the anticipation, every smiling stranger in the street.
hate the mid-february gloom – the lack of sun, everyone buying tickets to thailand, the obsession with talking about the weather, the mountains of snow never wanting to thaw. oh, why do we live here ?

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but then there is the food.
when it comes to swedish winter food, i’ve got nothing but love.
warm safron buns, straight out of the oven, filling the whole house with holiday smells.
in december, leading up to christmas, all those green peas, potatoes and white sauce with tons of mustard and white pepper.
early pitch-black st lucia mornings, munching on ginger bread men and sipping mulled wine while listening to the beautiful, and usually charmingly out of tune, singing of a group of white-dressed kindergarteners.
christmas morning, with creamy hot rice porridge drenched in cinnamon, the lucky finder of the almond thinking up a lame winter rhyme.
and of course, we wouldn’t be in sweden if we didn’t have a smorgasbord. for us celebrating christmas, it’s called ‘the christmas table’. swedish cheatballs, and soy sausages, creamed kale, christmas pig-less ham, tofu omelettes, beetroot salad, and my favourite – dopp i grytan, or ‘dip in the pot’. traditionally this is eaten by dipping bread in the pot that the ham has been boiled in, but for us vegans it means dipping the bread in a incredibly fragrant and tasty broth made by a variety of veggies, christmas beer and red wine, hot sauce, mustard, and all sorts of secret ingredients that you just happen to have in your kitchen. salty, hot, chewy, and so christmasy that you can’t help of getting into the christmas spirit just by the smell. the vegan dip is a hundred times tastier than the original ever was.

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isn’t that a wonderful thing about traditions – that they really aren’t all that traditional at all when you look closer. new ones pop up every year, and there are as many ways of celebrating the winter holidays as there are families celebrating. we take and give, borrow and lend, and hopefully learn more about each other’s cultures, traditions and lifestyles in the meantime.
i listen to korean christmas songs, watch american christmas movies, have german sauerkraut on the christmas table, and lebanese hummus on my finnish winter crisp bread. and all those things have become traditions to me. i can’t wait to find out which new traditions will be important to me in the future.

writing this has made me look forward to the winter holidays in sweden. it is lovely in its own way.
well…

me and the swedish winter, it’s a love hate relationship.
love – december.
hate – the other 5 months of it.

love // jenny

( this is a column i wrote for german vegan magazine welt vegan, where i also shared two swedish winter recipes : beetroot salad with toasted hazelnuts and rice porridge with baked tahini pear )

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meet mean girl sue.
always up in everyone’s business. causing mayhem. making trouble.
scroll down to see what a mess she made when she showed up on my lovely winter photo shoot …
but still can’t help to love her like crazy – mean or not.
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1 Comment so far

  1. I hope you’ll do a demo of your tofu omelette. I make a tofu scramble, and a chickpea flour omelette, but not sure how a tofu omelette works.

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