Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stop...Jackie Time!

I get to see this face in t-18 hours:

I made the picture extra-large for full effect.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Semla: 1, Sarah: 0

Last spring, I both participated in and dominated the 2010 (First Annual?) APO Eta Phi Chipotle Challenge Fellowship. This means, that, in the course of 15 minutes, I polished off two Chipotle burritos (the perfect Chipotle burrito: rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, green tomatillo, hot salsa, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole, with a heavy sprinkling of chipotle Tabasco sauce) and still had plenty of room to knock back a cold one, a "cold one" being an Arnold Palmer. You know what I did then? Went to Sarah Entwistle's and ate a brownie. My ability to consume food is unparalleled. I am a very, very hungry individual with apparently an extremely expandable stomach. That said, I think I may have met my match:

The semla.

Semla is a traditional Swedish pastry eaten on Shrove Tuesday, and every Tuesday in Lent thereafter. The University of Gothenburg Cultural Studies Department had a semla get-together this afternoon, where they discussed the role (hahahahhha see what I did there?) and history of this little bun, and then provided us with the Best Semla In the Land. No, seriously, this is a thing. Every year, a team of field experts gathers to judge and critique semlor from all over Sweden, and presents one with the title of Årets Bästa Semla. If the whole panda-handler career path doesn't work out, this is definitely the next-best thing. Anyways, the panel couldn't decide between the semla from a Stockholm bakery and that of a Gothenburg bakery (the rivalry continues), so instead of making a tough call, they oh-so-Swedishly just decided that there wasn't going to be a winner this year. So, technically, this is the second-best/tied-for-first semla in Sweden. Close enough.

This pastry looks totally innocent, but don't be fooled. The outside, as you can see, is a sweet wheat bun with cardamon spices baked into it. The inside of the roll scooped out and filled with marzipan paste (I've been watching Gilmore Girls ad nauseum the past few weeks, and just watched the episode where Emily and Richard bring back marzipan from...Belgium? Switzlerand? Anyways, the joke is that everyone is supposed to hate marzipan, but I don't understand why because it's super tasty); it is then topped off with a heavy swirling of whipped cream, the lid of the roll, and a dusting of powdered sugar. Voilà, semla! They were superbly delicious, but oh. my. god. so. filling. Also, so sugary. I could try a Semla Challenge where I attempt to eat two semlor in 15 minutes, but I'm pretty sure my teeth would just pack up and walk out of my mouth and be all like "Kiss me before you betray me! ET TU, BRUTE????"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance

Blah blah, I suck a posting, yadda yadda. In my defense, not too much has been going on here lately in Gothenburg. Let's see: I finally mastered crow pose in yoga today,

bought a coffee pot,

and started working on my take-home essay final that isn't due until MARCH 28. That's right, folks; the caffeine addiction will be making a glorious return to DC, but hopefully the procrastination won't.

Anyhoo, with all the downtime (seriously, I even applied for an internship three weeks before it was due! WTF), I thought I'd take this opportunity to review, rehash, and reassess the goals I bullshitted thought carefully about for my AU Abroad application. It hit me really hard the other day that I only have three months left in Sweden; on the one hand, I'm so excited to be able to see family, friends, and fellow comrades in such a short time, but au revers de la medaille (the one idiom I remember from AP French), there's still so much to see! That said, let's evaluate, shall we?

While studying abroad at the University of Gothenburg, I would like to:

1. learn enough Swedish to be conversationally fluent,

So, the other day I went to 7-11 to buy a tram pass for three months ("Kan jag fa et Vasttrafik kort för tre månadar?") and the lady at the counter thought I asked for a pass to Mölndal, and I was like "uhhhh, nej...vad?" and we switched to English but still continued to hash out the details of Who, exactly, Is On First for a solid two minutes before eventually getting things squared away. So, I can start a conversation, and could continue that conversation if it were written down; basically, I'm conversationally fluent if I were a mute. Other points in my favor: I can understand, like, 30% of what the yoga instructor at the student gym says, and, whatever, Swedish is tonal and really difficult and I spent the first two months here ordering cafes instead of coffee. Let's call this goal, as well as the previously-unvoiced mission to own a coffee house franchise, Haack's Kaffe, completed.

2. take advantage of the public land access laws and do some cold weather camping,

I honestly don't remember writing this. I have a hard time believing that I would hold myself to something so idiotic. Thinking back, though, trekking out into the forested Swedish terrain in December probably seemed like a grand idea when I was sitting naked on the floor of my 105º F Brooklyn apartment, rubbing ice all over myself, pressing my face against a fan and crying because I finally knew what hell felt like, except without access to Netflix. Also, I don't have a tent. Status: not-yet-completed and not-yet-gored-by-an-elk.

3. see the northern lights,

I didn't go to Lappland this winter, and the window of opportunity for seeing the Northern lights is decidedly stangt; however, by not accomplishing this goal, I achieved an unspoken one: to not freeze to death. Easy come, easy go, sunrise, sunset, let's call this a wash. And, yes, I am that person who completes a task, writes it down on a to-do list, and then crosses it out, in that order. Deal.

4. learn how to make Swedish meatballs, and

This is totally in the works! I finally looked up the recipe, and for vegetarian Swedish meatballs (like I was going to mush up animal muscle, yeah right), you need the refrigerated- not frozen- ground beef substitute, which I'm having a bit of trouble finding. As soon as I track it down, though, you bet your bottom kronor there will be meatballs. Status: working on it.

5. visit at least three other countries, and become fairly competent at using European transportation.

I underestimated my traveling savvy in setting this goal; not counting Sweden, I've visited six countries this past year, and by the end of April, that number will be up to eight. Definitely not too shabby. Also, not to brag, but I've truly channeled by inner travel agent while abroad. She can leap the tram in a single bound! Searches OEBB train timetables with both hands tied behind her back! Find a discount flight at the speed of light! This metaphor is becoming a little shaky, but you get the idea. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.