Not much is Swedish really
Not much is genuinely Swedish when it comes down to it. In these sad times (possibly so considered after the entrance of the Sweden Democrats into the Swedish parliament) the Göteborgsposten (GP), a daily, decided to check how much of what we consider out-and-out Swedish really is so. The list is short: The song “Små grodorna”, the so-called Princess Cake and the electric Christmas candleholders. “Let’s keep Sweden Swedish,” is the motto of the Sweden Democrats. But what is Swedish? Is there a particular dish that is genuinely Swedish, for instance? Not according to Jan-Öjvind Swahn, Professor emeritus in Folkloristics. Gravlax, pickled herring and lutfisk are old methods of food preserving that are in no way, shape or form Swedish only. Same goes with reindeer meat, it is eaten in many countries besides Sweden. And meatballs? “Meatballs is one of the most common dishes all over the world,” says Swahn. “But who made the first one we will never know.” Most likely, it wasn’t a Swede. Not even surströmming is Swedish. “Conserving food with yeast and acid has existed in countries in both Europe and Asia. In Norway surströmming is called ‘rakefisk’,” Swahn explains. But Princess cake (prinsesstårta) is Swedish. “It’s something the princesses came up with when they took cooking classes for the upper classes in the 1920’s. In those days it was as frequently pink as green.” Midsummer and Christmas are traditions that Sweden has taken from Germany, England and the USA. “The first Swede to lay eyes on a Christmas tree was a soldier at the battle of Lützen. He was taken care of at the home of a family who had one,” says Swahn. So let’s get back at the short list of Swedish stuff. The electric candle sticks that we use for Christmas. They are purely Swedish, as they were invented by Oskar Andersson in 1934 when he took electric Christmas candles from the Christmas tree and put them in a regular seven-branched candelabrum. Five years later they were sold in stores. “Små grodorna” the children’s song sung at Midsummer and Christmas is also Swedish. It looks like it was invented at Nääs Palace outside Floda around the turn of the century (not the latest one). “This song has spread all over the world,” says Tora Wall, a folkloristic researcher at the Nordiska Museum in Stockholm. “And it was probably written by a woman named Inez Mallander.

Crayfish soup
So the season for Crayfish parties and jolly lanterns may be over, but there is, thankfully, spreadable crayfish cheese, and with that you can make this delicious soup. We found Swedish crayfish cheese (Kavli kräftost) at Ikea, you might know more places that carry it. Ingredients: 3-4 carrots, 1 Tablespoon butter, 2 Tablespoons flour, 1 cube bouillon (chicken or vegetable), 4 cups water, 400 g kräftost, 8 oz crème fraîche. Peel and grate the carrots and fry them lightly in butter, add the flour and pour in the water along with the bouillon cube. Let boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the crayfish cheese and the crème fraîche and bring to a boil again. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread. For a more luxurious variation, add crayfish tails and a bit of white wine.

Michael Nyqvist is making a movie with Tom Cruise
“He’s really nice and I like him,” says Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist (famous for his part as Mikael Blomkvist in the Millenium-films) about fellow actor Tom Cruise. Nyqvist is currently shooting “Mission impossible IV” in which he plays the bad guy with the American star. The shooting is taking place in Prague. But this is not the first Hollywood film for the Swede. He has just finished shooting the thriller “Abduction” with Denzel Washington and Taylor Lautner from the Twilight movies. “This project (Mission Impossible) will continue through March. We will film here and in the US and in Dubai, though of course we will also have time off,” Nyqvist explains. “I like Tom Cruise and we have some sort of channel that makes it work well for us together. And Brad Bird, the director, is a fun guy.” “Mission Impossible IV” marks Nyqvist’s first action movie. “I train kickboxing and stuff like that every day. Towards the end Tom Cruise and I will have a fight which will take three or four weeks to film, with us hanging from cords.” Nyqvist enjoys life as a Hollywood actor. “Filming in Prague is excellent. It’s a great city,” he says.

Most expensive apartment in Stockholm: $6,606,384.43
Sweden's most expensive houses and flats are now listed by The most expensive flat is in the posh Östermalm area in central Stockholm. The flat has eight rooms and 560 square meters (6,027.789 square feet). The price is $6,606,384.43. The most expensive house is on the island Vindö, east of Stockholm. The special designed house is 250 square meters (2,690.977 square feet) and the estate is 35,000 square meters (376,736.864 square feet) with a perfect sea view. Price: SEK 39 million ($5,735,159.60).

50-öre coin soon gone
Next month will the one krona coin be the smallest one in Sweden, since the 50 öre coin is to be abolished. After September 30 you can no longer pay with the small copper coin of half a krona (1 krona equals $0.14). But öre is left as a currency unit and goods can still cost you, for example, SEK 5.50. At cash payments the price is rounded up to a whole krona at 50 öre or more. Credit cards are not affected at all, since all the small öre are deducted directly from your bank account.