Monday, January 9, 2012

gifts and julbords

This year was a strange one Christmas wise. Nothing was 'normal' about it. I didn't have a single present wrapped or a Christmas tree up. No family near by. I wasn't running around spending far too much money in crowded malls. It was nice. It was also lonely. So is the expat life. One thing that was unexpectedly pleasant was all the gifts my bosses spoiled me with. I mean, look at all this loot:
I made out like a bandit! Shirts, sweaters, salmon, sausage, different cheeses, etc.. Oh boy! They take care of their people in Sweden.

On top of all that we also had a big Christmas Dinner for coworkers. This is traditional and they call the event Julbord, literally Christmas Table or Buffet. Mine was at Tyrols the restaurant at Grona Lund, the amusement park here, and it featured wild animals. So, along with herring prepared something like 30 different ways, I got to try bear meat balls, wolf paw pate, and all sorts of other meats I never thought I would eat and over 200 different dishes to try! To eat a Julbord properly involves seven trips to the table. Dale's work had their Julbord at Ulla Winbladh where they handed out instructions for the seven rounds. So, here are the seven rounds a la Ulla Winbladh:
  1. A selection of herring and cheeses to be accompanied by beer or aquavit.
  2. Buckling, egg and an assortment of salmon to be accompanied by lemon aquavit.
  3. A selection of cold meats and mustard as well as Christmas sausage to be accompanied by a bitter aquavit.
  4. Lutefisk to be accompanied by a glass of red burgundy.
  5. Prince sausage, meatballs and red cabbage to be accompanied by a decent ale.
  6. Poached pear and assorted Swedish desserts to be accompanied by a glass of port.
  7. Cake and chocolate to be accompanied by coffee and cognac.
I didn't make it through all seven rounds of food and I didn't even attempt the accompanying drinks. Although my coworkers did serenade me with the traditional aquavit drinking songs while they were in the aquavit buffet rounds. I did try the Lutefisk which is cod preserved by soaking it in lye and to get it ready to cook it must be soaked in water for 6 days to remove all the lye. This process leaves the cod somewhat jelly like and removes a lot of the taste. I was surprised that for all that work it doesn't really taste like much. The lutefisk is served covered in a cream sauce with peas and bacon bits and the toppings were pretty much all I could taste and I'm told that's a good thing. I can't say I love the herring but this year in Sweden has made me realize which way I prefer the herring prepared so that's something I guess. The Swedish cheeses are amazing and I loved the smoked salmon. And unfortunately bear meat balls and wolf paw pate are not so interesting. And dessert, well, who doesn't love dessert no matter where they are?! And that folks was my Swedish Julboard experience.
Love Always,


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