Tuesday, September 25, 2001

It's time for another lesson in Swedish culture. The subject is food (inspired by yami, proprieter of green/gabbro, a blog that is some kind of fifth cousin twice removed to this one). Sweets, to be precise.

2. Goodies. Swedes have an endearingly childish love of candy. Having a sweet tooth myself, I find this a very attractive trait. The word for candy is godis and it is pronounced just like the word goodies except that the final -s- really does sound like a soft, unvoiced -s- and not like the harder, voiced -z- sound (i.e. in English, it sounds like goodeze, but in Swedish it sounds like go-diece). There are candy stores all over the place and in fact, two of them within a half block of my apartment, including one that has been there since the husband was a little boy. These candy stores have bins of candy of many different types, sometimes a hundred or more, and everyone helps themselves using large plastic spoons, pouring the candy into paper bags which are then weighed at the checkout. (You can also find these candy bins at seven-eleven, at the grocery store, the movie theater, the video rental store, and I'm sure other places I'm forgetting). It's a common sight to see adults walking around with yellow-and-red-clown-patterned or pink-and-white-striped bags of candy.

The candy falls into several categories.

There's chocolate, of course, although most of that is not of a very good quality. My favorite chocolates are in fact the Finnish chocolates made by Fazer - little bite-sized pieces wrapped in paper; Geisha is the best, it has a hazelnut cream filling.

There are also a lot of wine gum/ gummi bear/ gumdrop types of candy. They come in all the usual flavors such as lemon and orange, as well as favorite Swedish flavors such as pear. They are shaped like a child's pacifier, or pieces of fruit, or frogs, or simply little discs or lozenges.

My favorites are the sours. Most of these are a variety of the wine gum/ gummi bear/ gumdrop type, and they are shaped like fish, or soda bottles, or keys. They also have sour chestnuts, which are fruit- flavored hard- on- the- outside- soft- on-t he- inside lozenges, sort of a cross between an overgrown skittle and a sourball.

Then there is the licorice. There is sweet licorice - most notable are the licorice rats - and there is salt licorice.

Since I first arrived in Sweden and tried turkisk pebar, I've wondered who first decided that this was a palatable combination, and how did they in fact convince a whole nation that salt (and not just regular salt, I think I could handle regular salt, this seems to have some horrible ammoniac quality to it) and licorice go together like, uh, the pope and a shit in the woods. Or something like that.

So, the final point of this lesson is, unless you know what you are doing, do not be convinced by some laughing Swede to sample any candy that looks suspicious (i.e. nasty little hard greyish-brown dusty disks, grey nubbly gum-droppy things, grey discs with a salty peace sign on them, you get the picture).

- by Francis S.

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