I went to Umeå again this last week for a two-day full department meeting. We talked about grant and manuscript submissions for the coming year, and I proctored a journal club discussion with the PhD students. The highlight, however, was the julbord.
Most people know about smörgåsbord as being a Swedish buffet. Julbord is a special variation for Christmas. Good julbords have some classic inclusions: ham, luttefisk, pickled herring (sometimes 6 kinds!), bread, knackbröd, meatballs, sausage, cold potatoes, boiled eggs, red cabbage, beets, chopped kale, some kind of salad or veggie plate, and snaps. You can drink either snaps or Julöl. If you drink wine you’re a noob. Apparently, their are a million ways to identify yourself as a julbord-noob, as I learned from this valuable post on Sweden’s English-news-for-expats site.
Luckily, it went well. I had jul öl AND awesome jul snaps. We went to a really great place, where most things were made on the premises, including the bread AND the butter! I ate fish, even the pickled herring, and about a postage stamp sized piece of smoked reindeer (enough for me). My favourite was the Janssons frestelse, like scalloped potatoes with cream, onions and anchovies. Also good was the rödbetsalat, a creamy salad with pickled beats. I thought the whole thing was great – even the 12 kinds of sausage I only admired, but didn’t try. The dinner food was great AND THEN I FOUND THE DESSERT TABLE! (Sorry, no picture) There was ostkaka (which translates to cheesecake but is more like a baked ricotta pudding so I am just going to call it ostkaka), cloudberry sauce, mixed berries and cream, swiss meringue banana pudding, chocolate mouse, passionfruit fool, ris malta (rice pudding), lemon cheese (another ricotta special) and a think chocolate pudding. There was also pepperkador, toffees, and a big variety of Christmas candies. AWESOME!
When we got back to the hotel Hasse and I checked out the sauna (bastu). It was ‘only’ 50 degrees. Apparently it is not so uncommon to have 80 degree saunas. How is that even possible? I think that could cook an egg or a lobster.
The next day I got up and did some reading before out meetings started. It was dark when things got started – and pretty much dark when we had coffee break. It was unseasonable warm so I was able to step outside for a bit to take a picture. Check out how dark it is! The sun was set at 2PM.