Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Swedish Tradition is Going Straight to my Hips

Today is Mardi Gras, and while many of my friends are celebrating and participating in the various shenanigans around the world (I'm getting updates from New Orleans, U.S.A., Porto, Portugal, Venice, Italy and all over Spain), I am resting cozy in my apartment up in Sweden, watching the snow gently fall outside, enjoying a nice big, cream-filled semla.

In Sweden, fat Tuesday isn't celebrated by flashing boobs and shiny, plastic beads. Come on! It's -8 celsius. It's too cold for that! Instead, up here we indulge in an oversized, and overly decadent, pastry called the semla.

A semla is a traditional pastry eaten on Shrove Tuesday in Sweden as well as in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Norway and Denmark.

The word "semla" comes from the latin word semilia, which was the name used for the finest quality wheat flour.

The most traditional version of the semla was a plain bread bun, eaten in a bowl of warm milk.

Today, a typical semla is made of a cardamom-spiced wheat bun which has its top cut off and insides scooped out, and is then filled with a mix of the scooped-out bread crumbs, milk and almond paste, and then topped with a heaping amount of thick whipped cream.

Yes, while some prefer to drink themselves silly before jumping into the 40 days of lent, I am much more content with this Northern tradition. I mean take a look at these things. WHo could resist!

Now the questions is: what exactly am I going to give up for this next month and a half?

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