Sunny skies, skis, and semla.
The cloudy/snowy skies decided to clear for this gorgeous Saturday afternoon. A sunny winter wonderland.
“You can only call yourself a real Swede if you try cross-country skiing. Shall we?” said my homestay dad, Hans, grinning.
It’s a beautiful day to make a fool of myself. “Let’s go!”
First impressions from the girl who had never touched a snow sport before:
Well, I only fell twice, if that counts for anything. Let me tell you, it looks very easy, done so gracefully by Olympic athletes. Pushing yourself forward requires a great deal of strength in the core muscles, hamstrings, and quads. I would say that my physical strength is equivalent to that of a 70-year-old’s, but then I’d be pretending that I wasn’t getting passed and smoked by the local elderly men on the track. In my defense, people here are incredibly fit.
I was compared to Bambi on ice more than once today. I suppose I could have been much worse, right? Anyway, I’m sure I provided great amusement to all onlookers.
My homestay mom, Lisbeth, often comes here to ski after nightfall. It’s her own little peace. All jokes about my lack of athletic talent aside, I can see why. There’s something therapeutic about the repetitive and sturdy motions that it takes to glide. That, combined with the Narnia-like scene surrounding the tracks and the sound of nothing but your own steady breathing, is enchanting. Maybe I’ll join in on a night run under the stars soon.
My favorite part of the day: coming home to a cozy semla and varm choklad (hot chocolate). Semla, which has evolved into one of Sweden’s tastiest icons, is a treat made up from wheat flour bun, flavored with cardamom (an incredibly popular spice over here), and filled with a scrumptious almond paste.
My Swedish Language and Culture teacher informed the class that she’s participating in some hardcore semla taste testing, searching for THE semla of all semlas. The word so far: Vete-Katten, a 1920s-style bakery, takes the gold.
I’ll have to find out for myself.
Pro tip: you won’t find semla in your local coffee shops or bakeries at just any time of the year — so if you want to try one, plan wisely. These treats, only made around the month of February (late January – early March), can be traced back to fettisdagen (Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday). The buns are typically enjoyed as a final celebratory treat prior to the Christian fasting period of Lent.
“You must eat it the true Swedish way,” said both of my homestay parents.
We put some milk over the stove and poured it around the semla, turning the pastry into a floating island of deliciousness.
And how to end such a delightful day?
Homemade pizza with my homestay sister, Sandra.
Topped off with what? Godis (candy)!!!!
A day full of thankful tastebuds.
A Scandinavian tradition: Saturdays are the one day of the week to indulge in candy.
The day of the week when Swedish children have a little extra pep in their step.