The Traveling Sparrow: Why I Love Sweden

Why am I so fascinated by cultures around the world?

Today’s world is becoming smaller and smaller. Not because of travel, but because of the internet. Not a day passes without me being face to face with at least 10 different nationals.

With the onset of the pandemic, I stopped traveling and hunkered down in Orange County, CA. It’s like the United Nations here – everyone is from somewhere different and there’s an energy, a story to be told and a consistent sense of gratitude to be in a beautiful place with opportunities to make something of yourself.

I started young….

Once upon a time, there was a young British kid whose father was a workaholic, who traveled a lot!

I remember each time he came home, he’d bring something new and local from each place for my mother.

Every time we went away as a family, he’d meticulously write a diary, collect tickets, brochures from each place we visited. He insisted, “when in Rome, do like the Romans do” and we’d immerse ourselves in the local culture in as many ways as possible.

He/they gave me the bug to meet new people, from different cultures.

I guess my most consistent trip as a young kid, was to Sweden. My father worked for the Stora Group and each month we had to take a trip to Gothenburg to report in. He’d take us/me as often as he could (school holidays dependent).

I loved going there. There was such a sense of family and I felt so welcomed into their unique culture. I was even blond haired at the time!

I promptly learnt my top phrase: Hej, jag talar inte svenska (Hi, I don’t speak Swedish).

The one memory that sticks in my brain has to be the Crayfish Party. I think I was too young to fully partake in the inebriated festivities, but oh boy i remember it well.

We were staying in Malmo at the time and were invited over for dinner in broad daylight, from what i can remember (it was August, the longest days). We arrived like lambs to the slaughter, knowing little of what lay ahead.

The crayfish are put head first into a pot of boiling broth of water, beer, salt, sugar, and a bunch of crown dill. This will ensure a swift death. After a few minutes, the boiling broth is cooled and stored in the fridge, where the crayfish are left to soak overnight.

There are several ways to eat crayfish – the wimpy foreigner way (that was my mother) or the local, in with both feet & local way (my Dad & I).

The local Swede will go to great lengths to extract all the fluids and excavate every orifice of the crustacean – breaking off and crushing the claws, sucking out the brains, and peeling the tail. In I went, jumping in and ready for what any Swede could throw at me. However, even to this day, I don’t recall how sucking the brains tasted? Perhaps i did partake fully in the festivities after all and was numbed to that experience, care of the Aquavit – it didn’t take much for a youngster like me!

Whatever your preference, eating crayfish is very messy and needs a lot of sucking and slurping.

Sooner or later, every crayfish party apparently turns into a party of drunken neighbors/family wearing stupid hats, singing and toasting. I call it a misspent youth!

But, that was it, I’d fallen in love with the Swedish culture.

Thanks, Andrew

See you next time on another of my travels

#travel #sweden #crayfish #lifestyle

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