summer in southern sweden – no matter what time you wake up, it’s sunny. there’s also a chance that when you fall asleep it’ll be sunny. if you go to a wedding and drink with your cousins until 6am, it is possible that you will be awake for all 18 and a half hours of sunlight that day and more. or so i’m told.
the long hours of sunlight in southern sweden are also responsible for these freshly picked strawberries, pulled off the plants just mere hours before being displayed temptingly on the breakfast table. the number one guest house in lund, (so named for its address at Studentgatan 1 but also cause it’s awesome) puts on a mouthwatering breakfast smorgasbord every morning, including freshly baked bread, local cheese, yogurt and muesli, homemade orange marmalade with a spicy ginger kick, and excellent swedish coffee.
you can fill up your plate and head outside to sit in the lush green backyard where it’s obviously going to be sunny, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. i could definitely get used to this.
why am in southern sweden in the first place? my cousin sarah is marrying peter, who is swedish and went to university here in the historic and picturesque town of lund. on our many strolls from the guest house to the town centre, we’d pass an imposing stone cathedral from around the 12th century, blooming rosebushes of all colors, beautiful houses with complex brick designs, and lots of blond people on bicycles. random trivia – it’s thought that lund was moved to its present site soon after the year 990 by the king and viking leader sweyn forkbeard, who got his excellent name thanks to his fantastic moustache. he was the son of king harald bluetooth, who wasn’t named after a current facial hair trend, but actually inspired the wireless mobile device of the same name. you know, the harald. for more proof, harald’s logo is in fact a combination of the nordic runes of his initials. thanks wikipedia for filling my brain with such useless yet fascinating knowledge.
besides blonds and bikes, sweden is known for great seafood. i made sure to try as many traditional swedish dishes as possible, such as this salmon with a yellow cheesy potato omelette thingie and a mushroom cottage cheesey mixture.
i can’t really comment more on this dish because i have no idea what i was eating, other than that it was ramslöksbakad fjordlax with something bladgestalt and a bit of svampkryddad. regard this menu (and the lovely lund square, still sunny at 9pm), and you’ll get what i’m saying. definitely wins the award for the longest and least intelligible menu description i’ve personally encountered. mental note: must learn swedish.
we were lucky enough to experience more wonderful swedish traditions during sarah and peter’s wedding. local specialty #1, as seen in the below photo: toast skagen, a shrimp, dill, and mayonnaise mixture on rye bread with whitefish roe. local specialty #2 as seen in the below photo: communally drinking oneself into a state of celebratory inebriation.
note the presence of four glasses, each corresponding to a particular alcoholic beverage included with dinner – snaps (schnapps), swedish beer, white wine, and red wine. also included with dinner – a thorough introduction to the swedish formal dinner tradition of let’s-all-get-thoroughly-and-enjoyably-sloshed. this goal is attained by following specific rituals such as singing traditional swedish songs, toasting your fellow diners in a proscribed manner (including a special drinking partner) and generally tossing back your weight in alcohol.
even better, the whole affair is led by none other than your very own toastmaster! we were lucky enough to have peter’s family members henrik and ulf lead us (ulf in full scottish kilt, no less) through nearly every song in the swedish songbook and nearly every alcoholic beverage in sweden. the below picture is very representative of the meal: very happy people as seen on the left and lots of glass raising as seen on the right.
after three courses of food and four courses of alcohol, then cake, coffee and cognac, it was apparently time for them to wheel out the full bar. right. i think the swedes hate my liver. we hit the dance floor until the sun rose, and then enjoyed another four hours of sunshine before finally falling into bed. got natt, sweden! or to be more precise, god morgon…