Monthly Archives: August 2015

Stuff Scandinavians do that baffle other nations

August 27, 2015 | 21 Comments


“Announcing when you need to pee”

Scandinavians, but Swedes especially, announce when they need to pee. Jag måste kissa, the Swedes will say – happily in the middle of a business meeting: I need to pee. Not “where’s the loo’ but I NEED TO PEE.


Salty Liquorice

“Seriously, what’s up with that? Salty, tar-like substance that makes your face scrunch into something resembling a bum hole? How can you eat it? It’s not a SWEET”.

We love it. Don’t mess with our liquorice and we will keep trying to make you love it, too.



Drinking a glass of milk with your dinner. What are you, five years old?

Scandinavians love drinking milk. And we don’t think it’s just for the young kids, either- we will happily have a large class of milk with our dinner. Is it weird? It IS?

Off –milk and other odd dairy products

“Filmjolk, Afil and A38… Basically, sour yoghurts. Not even thick ones, but runny. Is it a drink or a yoghurt? How do you eat it? Why are you so obsessed with it? It’s SOUR. And don’t get started on the sour buttermilk.”

All true. But it’s good for your belly and it tastes really nice. Go on, have some, and then maybe some Skyr (which is also sour and is actually a cheese…)


(illustration by Jenny K Blake)

The Sandwich Rules

So, our open sandwiches are nice, most people agree. But all our rules? Don’t add fish with meat, only add remoulade with certain things. Asier is only for pork. Prawn is on white bread, but egg and prawn is on rye bread. How are people supposed to learn all these rules? What do you mean, herring first, always? What, eat with a knife and fork only? Really?

Maybe we should write these things down… Wait, where’s the fun in that?


Oh, please, not another cup of coffee.

Our coffee is so strong, too strong for most. We drink more coffee than the Italians. Our filter coffee makes your veins pulsate like a Basshunter song. It will keep any tired poor sod awake for an extra hour and invoke insomnia to the unsuspecting. On top of that, we are happy to drink 2-3 cups in a row. It’s no wonder we’re very effective in our lives and always on the go.


What’s up with all the OUTDOORS stuff?

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” – said all Scandinavian mothers, everywhere.

Okay, we like to be outside – a lot. Hike, walk, ski, run. Outside, in minus -20 degree and preferably with snow/rain/sleet/sun/ice age. Get outside.


Candle obsession with cosy feelings

We do like candles. We also love cosy. Yes, maybe we do go a bit overboard sometimes. Like when we put 50 candles in the room, turn all the lights off and ask each other if we’re feeling really ‘hyggelige’. No, it’s not some sort of Satanic ritual.


Jam and Cheese

No, it’s not a universal thing – it’s pretty much a Scandi thing. That sandwich with a slice of cheese and a dollop of raspberry or strawberry jam. Yes, we know its lovely, but its still odd, in the eyes of other people.


Our directness

Okay, we know you mean something, but you don’t have to SAY it, do you?

As in:

Non-Scandi: Would you like to come for dinner at mine tomorrow?

Scandi person: No.

Apparently, the correct response is: Ohhh, thanks for the invite, I may consider it. (Or something…then ignore it and conveniently forget to call back).


The lack of a proper word for please.

We do forget to say it. We do. We don’t have a direct translation. We don’t mean to be rude. We really don’t. The closest thing we have is along the lines of ‘if you wouldn’t mind being so kind as to” and it’s too long.

Obsession with Cheez Doodles

In Sweden especially, no Friday night’s “Fredagsmys” (Cosy Friday) is complete without a bowl of dusty corn covered snacks by our sides. We love them so much we probably think we invented them (we didn’t). No, Wotsits will not do: Not the same.

We’d probably bathe in them if you let us.

Lack of greeting cards

What’s with the lack of Christmas cards, birthday cards, moving-house card, and thank you cards?

We don’t write many cards. We don’t have shops that just sell cards. We’d like to say it is because we’re saving the forests, but really, it’s just because we don’t see the need in writing a card to your neighbour when they live next door and you just pop over and talk to them. We do learn, eventually, once we have been abroad for long enough and are feeling ignored.



Tobacco, squashed into little balls and stuffed under your top lip. Yes, other people can see it, too. It’s a Scandi thing others will probably never understand. Here’s to you, Fat Lip Snuser.


Father Christmas comes to your house

“He turns up, at your house, when you are AWAKE?!”

Actually, no, he doesn’t, The Tomte/Nisse turns up. Father Christmas is an American thing, we have our own Christmas elves. They all look just like our dads.


Our obsessiveness about the slicing of cheese

“It’s a piece of cheese, what’s the big deal if I use a knife to slice it?”

Look, we know some nations don’t appreciate this obsessiveness about the slicing of the cheese, but just DON’T slice it the wrong way and we can be friends. We invented cheese slicers for a reason, guys. It makes sense. Don’t make a ski-slope on our cheese block. Please. We beg you. You will invoke all kids of OCD and we just cannot forgive and forget.

We once wrote a blog post about a British food stylist who cut our cheese wrong and it made the Swedish newspaper. It really did. We take this very seriously.

Okay, it’s weird.


Stuff in tubes

So, in Sweden especially, we’ve realised that good things can be stuffed into handy tubes for easy consumption. It’s like buying food for your journey into space, except you are in your local ICA Maxi and not going on a trip to Mars.


Donald Duck

There is not Christmas without a re-run of the Donald Duck Show from 1976.

Okay, maybe a bit weird.



You may laugh at us. Do go on. But we still watch it. And often win it, too. More often than other… ahem.



Laughing at people trying to pronounce our weird guttural sounds

“Trying to get me to say rødgrød all the time. Even after I’ve learned how to say it, it’s still apparently knee-slappingly hilarious.”

Hmmm… this is true. Maybe we need to stop this. It’s a Danish thing. Wait, have you tried it? Go on, try it… Repeat after me…. Rødgrød med Fløde… Go on, just once….

Drinking something that is 38% alcohol at 9 am in the morning.

Okay, to be fair, this is mainly the Danes and we need to blame them on this one. There is this drink called Gammel Dansk – it’s a bit like a bad version of Fernet Branca. Drink a few shots in the morning with your Danish pastries and you’re all set for the day.


The obsession with singing ‘Snaps Visor” and “skål”

Most people get the enjoyment of having a shot of aquavit with your herring (sort of – most actually, in reality, think it tastes gross but nobody would be so impolite as to tell us).

But singing a song every time we raise our glasses? That’s a bit… Ehh… different.

Also, you have to ‘Skål’ in style. There are rules about how to do it. Best learn.

    Cloetta Kexchoklad – Chocolate Wafer 60g
    Haribo Matador Mix 1000g
    OLW Cheez Doodles – Cheesy Corn Snacks 160g (Ostepop)
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    £2.59 £1.99
    K-Salat Remoulade – Sweet Piccalilli Sauce 375g
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    Marabou Mjolkchoklad – Milk Chocolate 200g
    Fazer Tyrkisk Peber Original – Hot Peppery Liqourice Hard Candy 120g
    Estrella Dillchips – Dill Crisps 175g
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    Tine Gudbrandsdalen Brunost – Brown Cheese 250g
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    Abba Kalles Kaviar Original – Smoked Cod Roe 190g
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    Ahlgrens Bilar Original – Fruity Marshmallow Sweets 125g
    Ringnes Solo – Orange Soft Drink 330ml
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    Nidar Stratos – Bubbly Milk Chocolate Bar 65g

Stuff Scandinavians miss from home

August 21, 2015 | 10 Comments

Stuff that ex-pat Scandinavians in Britain never really stop missing from back home…

We asked the good people of Facebook – and wow, did we get a lot of suggestions!

Here are some of the top tongue-in-cheek replies about the little grips that will always make us Scandinavian at heart – feel free to add your own in the comment’s section and we’ll update the list.

1. Underfloor heating as standard. Once you have tried to have your hangover on a floor with under floor heating, you just can’t go back.


2. Missing not having to say ‘sorry’ all the time. We Scandies don’t say it a lot – only when we really, really mean it. Sorry about being so frank… But we don’t like saying sorry all day long. Sorry for this, sorry for that… Sorry I looked at you, sorry I stood in front of you in the queue. Sorry we had to mention this. Okay, sorry about all the sorry. Sorry.


3. Proper snow. What, you call THAT snow? We’ll show you snow…


4. Coming home to a house like this…


5. Mixer taps. We’ll never stop missing them. Just for the ease of washing our hands in water with nice temperature. Seriously, how DO you wash your face when one tap is scalding hot and one is freezing?


6. Windows that open inwards. This may seem like a small thing, but once you have seen the logic of inward opening windows (for cleaning, even), you can never go back.

7. Directness. That’s just how we do it. You think we’re direct when we’re abroad? You should see us in our natural habitat.

8. Water pressure in your shower. Like, a real shower, that is high up so you don’t have to bend down to be under it (sorry that we’re a bit tall for your houses… oh, look, we said sorry again). Where the water comes out in a steady stream, not a trickle. Ahh…And relax…


9. Our comfort foods: We did a but of a survey, and Swedes’ top food they miss is Kalles Kaviar. Top Norwegian food is Brown cheese – and Danes will never give up on Remoulade.


10. Not having carpets. Why has the rest of the world not yet given up on carpets? Do we really need them?

11. Saunas. Because being all warm and sweaty in a wooden box is just so very nice.


12. White walls. Really white walls. We call it ‘Scandinavian white”. No, not egg shell or magnolia. WHITE. All of it. And take your dado rails with you when you leave.


13. Views like these…


14. Cycle lanes so you don’t risk your life every morning.


15. Coffee tables. What’s up with the sofa with no table in front of it? Where are you supposed to put your cup of tea?

16. Being able to keep the heating on all year if we need it – and not bankrupt ourselves in the process. Scandinavians prefer 22 degrees, in every room, at all times. We don’t mind the cold when it’s outside, but our houses are toasty.

17. Nobody makes fun of you for loving Eurovision. Stop making fun of us – yes, you – you just DID, in your head!


18. Candles everywhere. As soon as darkness sets, everybody lights candles. In every house. Everywhere. Because the more candles you have and the darker the room, the more ‘cosy’ you feel – and cosy means ‘Kos’ and ‘hygge’ – and those things are essential to being a real Scandinavian. Get some candles, will you (must be purchased in IKEA or similar Scandinavian store, or they are not the “right” kind).


19. People just popping by. Because in Scandinavia, you don’t have to call ahead or make appointments. Just pop over.

20. Comfortable nakedness. It’s just a body, we all have one. Take off all your clothes and be at one with nature.

21. Hytteliv (cottage life). We miss our cottages by the mountains/fjord/beach/lake/forrest (delete as appropriate). The place where there is no ‘scandi design’, only copper pots hanging on the wall and maybe a stuffed dead animal head. Even better if the toilet is in the garden.

22. Filter coffee. Do not mess with our coffee. Because we drink more than anyone else. We can handle our caffeine. And when we go back home, we drop the skinny lattes and go for diesel strength filter, every time.


23. Scandinavian brunches. A bit like this, where you have hours and hours and bottomless coffee.
Photo credit: Øyvind Haug

24. Milk in cartons. And not in plastic jugs. The cartons are easy to pour from, recyclable as paper and have lots of interesting stuff on them. Little who dunnit’s for Easter, for example.

paskekrim melkekartong norwegian Easter milk carton

25. Pick and mix. Scandinavian ones. For Fredagsmys or Lördagsgodis, or for going to the cinema. A bag of tangfastics just is not the same. We like to pick and mix our favourites – some sweet, some sour, some salty, some chocolatey – for the ultimate treat.

26. Hiking culture. Well at least in Norway, where the weekend is synonymous with a hike of some sort for many.

27. Real cheese slicers. A knife just won’t cut it (pardon the pun).


Recipe: Extra gooey brownie with salted cardamom caramel

August 10, 2015 | Leave a comment

Extra gooey brownie with salted cardamom caramel

We use a lot of cardamom in our baking. In fact, in Scandinavia, it is rare that we use cardamom in savoury foods at all – it’s all about cakes and buns with cardamom. This is a good, solid gooey brownie – topped with a delicious soft caramel, flavoured with a hint of cardamom and vanilla.
To grind your own cardamom, take the pods and open them up and remove the little seeds inside. Grind these seeds in a pestle and mortar and sieve out the grainy shell. Freshly ground cardamom is very strong and fragrant – so test your way with smaller amounts in case you may find it too over-powering.
Course: Cake
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Keyword: brownie
Author: Bronte Aurell


For the brownie

  • 200 g butter
  • 150 g 70% chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 50 g light brown sugar
  • 70 g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom or to taste – optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar or good extract
  • 125 g pecan nuts lightly chopped

For the topping

  • 25 ml water
  • 50 g dark brown sugar
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 50 g butter
  • 100 ml whipping cream
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp Fleur du sel or Maldon salt flakes or to taste


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C (170C fan).
  • Melt the chocolate and butter in a pan over simmering water until smooth (you can also do this in the microwave). Set aside to cool for a while – it should be finger warm when using.
  • Whisk the sugar and eggs for several minutes until pale and very fluffy. There are no raising agents in this recipe and you do need a lot of air incorporated to make this brownie a success.
  • In a bowl, sift cocoa, flour, salt, cardamom and vanilla sugar.
  • Add the chocolate and butter mixture slowly to the egg and sugar and whisk continuously. Then fold in the flour with a spatula, ensuring as much air still remains in the batter. Lastly, add the pecan pieces.
  • Pour into a small lined baking tin 20 x 30 cm approx. or smaller if you prefer a thicker brownie and bake for around 15 minutes - or until the middle no longer wobbles (baking time really depends on the tin you use – a thicker layer will need longer cooking). A good brownie is gooey and claggy and even 3 minutes of over-baking will ruin your hard work. Test your brownie after 10 minutes by moving the tin – if the middle wobbles, it still needs a few minutes. Keep testing. Remove and leave to cool. If you suspect the cake has had a minute too much, you can cool the tin down in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process immediately.

To make the topping:

  • In a small saucepan over heat, combine sugar, syrup and water (don’t stir it, but slightly swirl the pan once in a while). Bring to the boil and simmer until it starts to turn a brown colour (but not too dark, or your sugar is burning) – this may take 4-6 minutes, depending on the heat and quantity, so keep an eye on it. Add the butter and cook for a further few minutes, then turn heat right down and add the cream and spices. Add half the salt first and taste if this is salty enough for you. Let the topping cool down before pouring over the cooled brownie (I usually let both sit for a few hours before eating).
  • Use any left over sauce as a topping on vanilla ice cream. It’s delicious.

How to be a bit more Viking

August 6, 2015 | Leave a comment

How to be a bit more Viking

We love the idea of a good Viking school in Norway, in the article published this week. To prepare yourself before you go, though, here are a few simple pointers to be more Viking in your daily life:

Come up with a good name to ensure your friends will remember you.

Anyone remember Brian? Pete? Joe? No. But they sure do remember Thorfinn Skull-splitter. And Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. Eysteinn the Fart didn’t go unnoticed either, for his antics after a night on the mead.

Oh, yeah, and we all remember Thord the Coward. And Ulf the Unwashed. And Hallfred the Troublesome Poet.

Get your own Viking name here 










If you’re a Viking man, grow a beard. Good beards were signs of manhood. No beard = not a real man. Think hipster, amplified. Add an axe and a shield.

Note that Viking men were very well groomed, not wildly haired beasts. Indeed, combs and tweezers were found in Viking graves. So, a well groomed beard is essential.

Dye your hair blonde. Both Viking men and women enjoyed dying their hair blonde, using lye (probably best not to use lye – ask your hairdresser for current alternatives). The dye kept the lice at bay – and it made them all pretty. Because they’re worth it.

Hairstyle: Short fringe and long at the back. A mullet, really. Grow a mullet. And a beard.

Wear more eyeliner. Vikings used to wear eyeliner, a type of kohl around the eyes.


Drink more mead (Mjöd). It’s an underrated drink that really deserves a come back. We see it as a good alternative to your local pint of Stella – and soon, London hipster pubs will start serving it, we’re sure. Drink mead out of a horn. Also a good fancy thing that could make a welcome alternative to pint measures.

Get one here 


Treasure your Bluetooth. Did you know that the Bluetooth logo is rune script? And the name comes from Harold Bluetooth – the last king of a united Scandinavia.

Go skiing more. The Viking loved skiing so much they even had a God of Skiing – his name was Ullr.

Navigate by using ravens. The Vikings used ravens to navigate the long ships. They gave up quickly on seagulls as these only led to chip shops.

During the next London tube strike, pick up a few ravens and let them help you find your office.

Only write in runes. Ideally carved into stone. Do not use this technique if asked to take notes at a meeting; you’ll be there forever and nobody appreciates it nowadays.

Girl power: Viking women could demand a divorce from their partners. Reason for divorce could be plenty – from bed-hopping to poverty or even the showing of too much chest hair. Threaten your husband with divorce if he opens the third shirt button next time he’s dancing The Lambada at a family wedding.

The power of Mjölnir. It is not unusual to see Scandinavians today wear Thor’s Hammer around their neck. It’s a look. You can do it.

Play the pan pipes. Well, because the Vikings kinda did. Or just learn the lur. Or the recorder. Yes, we know… Not very manly instruments, but what do you expect? A Viking age set of drums and a v-guitar?

Do what can’t be done. The Vikings didn’t fear the unknown, nor did they fear battle or even death. They travelled. They discovered. Imagine what the world today would look like if we hadn’t travelled?

Feel free to add more ways to be Viking in the comments field and we’ll add them.

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