Blood Pudding vs Peanut Butter, Julmust vs Root Beer, etc.

It's funny what seems normal in one country and totally strange in another. This doesn't strike me too often in Sweden, not these days at least, but sometimes I do remember that I'm living in a country I did not grow up in.
There are plenty of things that could apply in this category; things that don't seem normal to me but are normal to Swedes... certain political, social and legal things.

But I think instead I want to point a finger at another category. And this category starts with blood pudding.

One night last year I stood outside with a few guys after a live music happy hour at my school department's student union. They were talking about what they would do when they got home after that long cold day... they were going to relax, watch a show, have some wine... and have some blood pudding.

"You're joking, right?" I asked. I'd heard of blood pudding before, and even seen its strange sausage-looking sight in the grocery store and steered clear of it. I thought it was something old fashioned here that no one ate anymore.

"Nope!" They said. And they went on. "Yeah, we'll put it in the pan, grill it a bit, and put some lingonberry jam with it. It's going to be so good."

I was horrified. I'd never heard of such a thing and it sounded sickening. But I learned that blood pudding prepared this way was a normal dish that Swedes may have growing up, sort of like peanut butter and jelly to Americans. And speaking of peanut butter, that leads me to my next point... (know that eventually I will try the blood pudding, like this American has, but no one has made me yet, although I'm sure the day is coming).

Peanut butter is not so normal in Sweden. You can find it, maybe, in stores, but it's not a kitchen staple, and many Swedes think it tastes weird. Which is weird to me. See the photo below... it is the reaction of a Swede trying a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup for the first time.

Yeah, he was not into it. I mean, who doesn't like those!

Most Swedes, in fact.

And the other day I had a little debate with my colleague. He lived in the US for a few years, and thinks root beer tastes weird. I brought up root beer floats, but he wasn't moved. So I mentioned that I think that Julmust, a special Christmas soda that is everywhere in Sweden around the holidays, tastes sorta odd. But you can't really get far around here with that opinion, it's going to make you some enemies.

Another food thing that is close to Swede's hearts and tastebuds is salty black licorice. Salty. black. licorice. My thoughts about it are something along the lines of how this American guy living in Norway expressed it:

"The worst food, by far, in Norway is salted black licorice. I might hang from the gallows tomorrow, but there’s no contest here. I’d rather give myself a pine-cone suppository than come within ten feet of salted black licorice again."

Haha :)

And what's really unfortunate is that one of my favorite home goods stores in Sweden, called Granit, which is right near my office downtown, has started lighting scented candles which fill the whole store and area outside the doors with the scent of this strange candy item. It's a bit disturbing, but I'm trying to get accustomed to the smell at least. If not the taste.

Swedes are actually quite in love with their candy. They seem to really miss it when abroad. They feel like their trademark is lösgodis, which is "loose candy", when you can pick what you want from the bins and take it away in a bag. We have this in the States too but it's not everywhere nor as popular. I'm not such a fan. But it is quite amazing, since before Sweden I was living in southern California where you'd never see such a sight, to see dozens of pretty thin girls wandering the candy aisles and scooping up sweets right and left. Girls my age eating a lot of candy, and not making any excuses for is actually a strange sight to me. Refreshing.

I thought I'd get to sharing about Swedish breakfast on this post, but looks like that will have to come later. But there's a lot to say about that, in fact, and the preview is that when I first had breakfast with a Swede, they said, "You want to just have cereal and milk? That's like eating nothing. You Americans..." And I thought, "What are you doing with having crackers out for breakfast? And cucumbers... and cheese that is not going to be sprinkled over an omelette but sliced and eaten cold? You Swedes..."

But unlike the salty black licorice, the cracker, cucumber and cheese thing is no longer weird to me but a new normal. Could have fooled me if you told me that three years ago. But there's a lot of things I wouldn't have believed about my life to come if you told me about them three years ago...


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