The Swedish meatball effect

It seems that everyone in this family is enjoying Swedish food. While Mirinda and I are enjoying discovering new taste delights, this morning, the puppies proved that they are not immune. In fact, they prefer Swedish meatballs to me.

I’d left Mirinda in the Åhus café she went to yesterday while I experienced the Swedish equivalent of a bottle shop.

While you can buy alcohol in supermarkets, it is capped at 3.5%. For wine and spirits and anything above 3.5%, you head for the government owned and controlled, Systembolaget. These have very strict days and hours of business. Apparently, for working people, there is a rush on a Friday before 6pm in order to stock up for the weekend.

There was no rush for me. In fact, it was exactly like an Australian bottle shop. I bought a couple of Punk IPAs, a white and a red wine. I even managed to say goodbye in Swedish as I left the shop.

As I walked towards the café, I noticed, through the window, the girls pulling at their lead. Obviously they had seen me and were eager to smother me in love. Then, suddenly, they stopped. As I walked inside, I realised why. The woman who runs the café was on the floor hand feeding them meatballs.

To be completely accurate, she was hand feeding Freya meatballs otherwise Emma would have eaten them all. Clearly, it’s the only way the girls can be distracted from greeting me. I have now called this the Swedish Meatball Effect.

After drinking a lovely latte and talking Swedish to a woman who wanted to speak English, we headed down to the beach.

In contrast to yesterday, the day was very grey, windy and, frankly, chilly. The beach, however, was lovely.

We walked from the car park (and a Swedish version of Go Ape) to the end of the beach which turned out to have a lighthouse station and military land halting our progress. If the wooden fence and raised walkway weren’t enough, there was a sign (in Swedish, German and English) saying there was often live firing and beware. We turned round and returned to Max, thankfully unscathed. This is possibly due to our Hankley training.

But, returning to food, I have discovered two more delicious Scandinavian delights. One is Danish rödkål and the other vitlökssås. They work so well with a salad.

And, speaking of salad…the Swedish branch of Chez Gaz has gone all Scandi with the infamous lunch salad. It has been declared delicious and well satisfying.

Mirinda had a work call to make, so I spent most of the afternoon researching dead soldiers while she worked. This culminated in her chatting to Sarah for yonks. That, in turn, culminated in Mirinda telling Sarah where she was. That made her squeal with delight. Sarah squealed, I mean. Mirinda just smiled.

They also discussed the new CEO’s quote from White Rabbit, (sung by Jefferson Airplane and written by Grace Slick). Mirinda said you had to like someone who quoted Alice in Wonderland, no matter how obliquely.

The reason I know what they discussed is because I was at the other end of the dining table as they talked. Normally I am well out of earshot. Not in Sweden, though.

Finally, a short trip back to the beach and a photo Mirinda insisted on taking of me and the girls under a stunted conifer. I ended up with pockets full of sand. Note the girls’ wind blown ears. It was very windy.

Today, this happened

I do love a good saint story. They are right up there with fairytales: a moral tale chock-a-block full of good versus bad, sprinkled with fantasy and magic. On a day we celebrate the Feast Day of Magdalene of Nagasaki, let’s spare a thought for all those Catholics who believe in that sort of thing.

Magdalene was a Japanese Christian. She was born in Nagasaki in 1611 and was a bit of a jinx for the people she was closest to.

Her parents were martyred when she was just nine. Then, aged 13, she lost her spiritual advisors Francis of Jesus Terrero and Vincent of St Anthony Simeons also to martyrdom. Her next counsellors were Melchior of St Augustine and Martin of Saint Nicholas. They were then both put to death.

Giordano Ansaloni de San Esteban either hadn’t heard about her or had a death wish because he took her on next. Clearly showing a certain amount of pity, Magdalene decided to turn herself into the authorities.

I guess it was not the thing to be a Christian in Japan because they immediately subjected her to the Torture of the Pit for 13 days. For some reason, the anti-Christian authorities thought hanging someone over a pit full of offal would do something. It seems somewhat pointless to me, apart from being horrible for poor Magdalene of course.

There is the fact that the Japanese are not that big on the insides of most animals. Perhaps they were applying their own beliefs on her as a cleansing of her heresy. Or maybe they were just saying that she was just so much offal to them.

After 13 days, the pit full of offal was filled with water and Magdalene drowned. She was then cremated and her ashes set free upon the water of Nagasaki Bay. Though she didn’t care about that because she was pretty much dead from the offal. She was 22-23 years old.

She was beatified in 1981 – she must have been resting up for a long time before performing any miracles – and Pope John II made her a saint in 1987.

I haven’t been able to find out what she’s the patron saint of (possibly not butchers) but she’s one of the legendary Martyrs of Japan, a pretty hefty group of dead Christians.

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