Blog title revelation

Swedish school kids started their summer break today. I noticed that Elsa, the youngest of the Perfect Swedish Family, graduated from high school yesterday, something that Sarah happily reported on Instagram. While they all enjoyed their first day of long term freedom, I was in class learning about body parts.

In one of those delightfully odd facts, the Swedish word for cheek is shin. (Actually, it’s spelled ‘kind’ but is pronounced shin.) The word for shin is skenben, which is difficult to write phonetically, while the word for chin is haka, which sounds a bit like hawk-a rather than a Maori war cry.

Another odd thing is the fact that the word for breast is the same regardless of whether it refers to a man or a woman. That’s not the weird thing though as it’s the same in English. No, the weird thing is that the quiz we did in class which shows two figures, a male and female, with arrows indicating body parts, had one pointing to the female breast and the other to the male.

That may not sound particularly odd, however, both answers were the same (ett bröst) regardless of gender. In fact, according to the list of choices, one was for a woman while the other was for a woman or man. Naturally, I managed to get the answers the wrong way round.

All a bit confusing. A bit like the fact that we had a mighty storm, complete with thunder, lightning, Biblical torrents of rain, etc, in Vagnhärad as the time ticked round to midday while Trosa remained completely dry. They are about eight kilometres apart. Fortunately, the wetness I experienced in one town was dried out by the sun in the other.

Weather and school aside, we had a very pleasant dinner tonight. We were invited to dine with KSP and Jonas in their very isolated house, where the beehives are growing. Actually, KSP told us that some years, they grow to ten trays high and resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

For dinner, Jonas made fläskpannkaka while KSP ‘prepared’ a deconstructed a cheesecake which we, basically, constructed ourselves. It was very simple fare according to KSP. Regardless of the simplicity, it was mighty delicious.

A bit like toad in the hole (which went well with the toad in the vacuum cleaner story related to us by Jonas), fläskpannkaka features a baked batter with bits of pork in it.

To quote Nordic Culture: “Traditionally, Fläskpannkaka is served with lingonberry jam, adding a sweet and tart contrast to the savory [sic] richness of the pancake. This blend of flavors [sic] is not only typical in Swedish cuisine but also a perfect example of how simple ingredients can create a meal that’s both comforting and sophisticated.

I agree. It was lovely. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I love trying traditional foods whenever the opportunity presents itself and I was not disappointed tonight.

A bit like the mealtime chat.

There was the story of the Lithuanian bee-man, who wanders around, hunched over, cigarette in mouth, speaking appalling Swedish while laughing at his own inability to communicate. KSP’s imitation of him was so good, I really want to meet him now to ascertain her accuracy of depiction.

Also, I managed to find out what KSP meant, back in May, by her tongue sticking to her palate. It was a reference to Ivanhoe, the 1982 movie starring Anthony Andrews. This may sound somewhat obscure to anyone but a Swede.

There are a few Christmas TV traditions in Sweden. One of them is to watch Ivanhoe on New Years Day. It is broadcast every year and, as was reported in Aftonbladet a while ago, actors Anthony Andrews and Sam Neill have no idea why.

KSP knows the film by heart and it was dialogue from the movie that she was quoting. I haven’t seen the movie (obviously I will watch it this year) but I have found the quote in the book.

“I could have pledged him with all my soul,” said Athelstane, “for my tongue cleaves to my palate.”

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

And, of course, I mustn’t forget the fashion show where KSP showed us her traditional Swedish outfits which her mother beautifully made and embroidered. She has two; one for when she was a maiden and the other for her married state.

It was an all round splendid night, enjoyed by all six of us (KSP had insisted that we bring the girls).

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