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    Post #1 - December 8th, 2004, 5:56 pm
    Post #1 - December 8th, 2004, 5:56 pm Post #1 - December 8th, 2004, 5:56 pm
    Swedish Bakery

    One of the nice things about LTH is the way it stimulates us food-obsessed people to even greater and greater excess. Mike G's recent request for food-related holidays prompted me to contribute a short post on St. Lucia Day (Dec. 13) in Sweden, when the eldest daughter of the family, wearing a white dress, red sash, and a crown of candles, serves sweet rolls called lussekatter or lussekattor (Lucia cats) to her parents in bed. Now, I'm half Swedish but my family never did this, probably because both my grandmothers were Norwegian (how's that for an ethnic mix?) and recipes and food traditions tend to get handed down from the mothers, generally speaking. But I've always heard about the Lucia tradition and since writing it up for LTH I've been thinking about those lussekattor.

    First, of course, I thought of baking them myself. I found recipes in three of our cookbooks (do we have too many books? :) ) and it's just a simple yeast dough with eggs and butter and sugar, flavored with saffron and grated orange, formed into curlicues and studded with raisins or currants. But the recipes make a lot, and I wasn't sure I wanted 24 of the "cats".

    Instead, I made a trip to Swedish Bakery in Andersonville. They had them, but had sold out of the saffron ones by the time I got there around 2:30 in the afternoon, and offered me plain ones instead. While I was there I picked up a few other things: Julekaka (Christmas cake), Stockholm limpa, and a dozen heart-shaped pepparkakor (ginger cookies).

    Swedish Bakery's lussekattor are cute but, I'm sorry to say, not that interesting in terms of flavor. It was like eating a slightly sweet plain roll. I hope their saffron ones are better. And maybe I should go back to the home baking plan, after all.

    But I like the other stuff I got at the bakery very much: the Julekaka is something my family does make, a yeast bread flavored with cardamom, containing raisins and candied fruit. The bakery's pepparkakor are thin and crisp, with a good ginger flavor. (My maternal grandmother's recipe for this makes a different sort of cookie, a small rounded mound. And if I didn't know I'd be having those cookies soon at my family's house, I'd be whipping up a batch tonight.) The Stockholm limpa is a rye bread containing anise, grated orange, and molasses. It's only slightly sweet. The bakery also had another type of limpa, Vort limpa, which I hope to try soon.

    Amata

    p.s. Anyone who wants to inflict Swedish customs on a daughter can get all necessary accessories at the Swedish-American Museum Shop: white dress, red sash, and crown. The "candles" in the crowns appear to be battery operated, thank goodness! I indulged there in a small St. Lucia ornament for our Christmas tree, and a refrigerator magnet for my parents reading "Just say NO to lutefisk."
  • Post #2 - December 9th, 2004, 12:06 pm
    Post #2 - December 9th, 2004, 12:06 pm Post #2 - December 9th, 2004, 12:06 pm
    Now I feel guilty because I never got around to posting anything ahead of time about the Swedish-American Museum's Julmarknad (Yule Market), which was last Saturday. They actually do the St. Lucia walk, one girl has an actual candle on her head while the rest use the battery-operated kind, and there's a little choral program as well as, needless to say, things to buy and eat. It's one of the few times the S-A M is packed; the top floor play area (which is very nicely done, with a little farm, a Viking ship, etc.) is one of our rainy day play areas precisely because it's usually empty. Anyway, mark it on the calendar for next year, it's fun.

    I concur strongly with your assessment of Swedish Bakery and was just down there shooting pics for the calendar (as well as stocking up). Some items are not all that interesting (I'm no great fan of sugar cookies) but what they do well they do very well and the more authentically Swedish it is the better, or at least more interesting, it's likely to be. In addition to the pepparkakor (which are very similar to the cookies I make for frosting, again, since I'm no fan of plain sugar cookies), they have decent pfeffernusse which are a little more like the ones I make than most you find commercially, which are usually way too soft and not spicy enough. (As I say this, though, I think they may get those from an outside supplier.) And I really like their authentic Swedish coffee cakes, which have not only a strong cardamom taste but a lot of black pepper, too. Startling at first, but like jalapeno corn bread, give it a chance and it soon seems perfectly natural.

    By the way, speaking of lutefisk: my German Mennonite great-grandmother grew up in Minnesota, where her father had a store, before they resettled in Kansas, and much of the clientele was Swedish and Norwegian, for whom her father made and stocked lutefisk. When she'd tell me this-- she died in 1988 at 102-- her nose would crinkle up and she'd make a face and you could tell that, though some 90 years had passed, the memory of the smell of lutefisk was as viscerally powerful as ever.
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  • Post #3 - December 9th, 2004, 12:39 pm
    Post #3 - December 9th, 2004, 12:39 pm Post #3 - December 9th, 2004, 12:39 pm
    Mike, thanks for the report on the Christmas Market and play area, they both sound very nice.

    There will be more Lucia processions on Monday, Dec. 13. Here is some information from the Museum's website (link in post above):
    Monday, December 13, noon at Daley Plaza

    Monday, December 13, 4:45 pm at the Swedish American Museum

    Monday, December 13, 7:00 pm at Ebenezer Lutheran Church

    Lucia Celebration


    The traditional Lucia celebration and procession is one of Sweden's most beautiful events and is loved in Andersonville. The museum's procession starts at 4:45 pm from the Museum and returns for a 5:00 pm program. An extensive program will be held at the Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 Foster Avenue, Chicago, at 7:00 pm.


    Regarding lutefisk: My mom's father insisted that they have lutefisk every Christmas Eve, though everyone else in the family hated it. It was only when my parents started dating that my grandfather was persuaded to give up the lutefisk routine (they didn't want to scare off my dad, I guess). Years later, when I was growing up, my mom's sister would come over to our house for Christmas Eve and she and my mom would cook Chinese food for dinner -- getting as far away from the horrible memory of lutefisk as possible. I've never had it, and don't particularly need to try it.
  • Post #4 - December 9th, 2004, 1:03 pm
    Post #4 - December 9th, 2004, 1:03 pm Post #4 - December 9th, 2004, 1:03 pm
    Amata wrote:Regarding lutefisk...Years later, when I was growing up, my mom's sister would come over to our house for Christmas Eve and she and my mom would cook Chinese food for dinner -- getting as far away from the horrible memory of lutefisk as possible. I've never had it, and don't particularly need to try it.


    But did they then start making dishes with fish maw and dried squid?

    Actually, isn't lutefisk once plated kind of bland in flavour and disliked more for weird texture? I have some vague recollection of hearing something along these lines... Of course, my family ate nothing weird on Christmas Eve, just scungilli and stuff like that...

    By the way, doesn't the Swedish Christmas Market charge an admission fee? -- one pays to have the chance to buy...

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #5 - December 9th, 2004, 1:20 pm
    Post #5 - December 9th, 2004, 1:20 pm Post #5 - December 9th, 2004, 1:20 pm
    Antonius wrote:
    But did they then start making dishes with fish maw and dried squid?

    :P
    Antonius, you know my family. My father, who won't even put ketchup on his hamburger, eating fish maw? No, we're talking "beef-with-broccoli" Chinese-ish food here.

    By the way, doesn't the Swedish Christmas Market charge an admission fee? -- one pays to have the chance to buy...


    Yes, $2, according to the museum web site. (As opposed to the Mexican Museum's mercado navideo, which has no admission fee...)
  • Post #6 - December 9th, 2004, 2:10 pm
    Post #6 - December 9th, 2004, 2:10 pm Post #6 - December 9th, 2004, 2:10 pm
    I could believe that lutefisk smells much worse than it tastes. I will never know for myself...

    The museum may charge a nominal fee for the Julmarknad, but if you have little kids it's well worth getting a not-very-expensive membership, as you'll use the play area on rainy or bitter wintry days plenty of times. At least we do, and also you're supporting something that hardly anyone visits and can use the support.
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  • Post #7 - December 13th, 2004, 4:49 am
    Post #7 - December 13th, 2004, 4:49 am Post #7 - December 13th, 2004, 4:49 am
    Just thought I could add some info from an American living in Sweden for some time now...

    Lutfisk really doesn't have much taste when it's served (not too strange considering what it's been through - drying and salting, reconstitution in lye and water, soaking and boiling/broiling). I personally don't think the smell of it cooking is much worse than any other boiled fish but I suppose that has to do with how much one boils it. I recently read that the "best" way to prepare it is sealed in a baking bag and (b)roasted at a lowish temperature. Otherwise, it's standard wisdom over here that it isn't the fish that is the main point - it's the stuff it's served with. Bechemel sauce (with or without mustard in it), peas, melted butter, potatoes, black pepper and/or cracked allspice berries.

    The trend in Stockholm for the past 5 years or so is eating the thin, strong gingersnaps/pepperkakor with a slice of blue cheese or gorgonzola on them. Sounds strange but is really, honestly worth a try!

    The saffron bread/Lussekattor are, in all honestly, slightly bland by my American standards. A hefty pinch of saffron is truly necessary to make them worthwhile in my book (I usually let the saffron steep in the milk/cream a day or so before making the buns). In our household, we usually end up splitting and toasting the buns after the first few days and eating them with a little butter and a slice of a decent Swedish cheese ("like, say, Grevé, Prästost or Herrgårdsost")
  • Post #8 - December 13th, 2004, 3:12 pm
    Post #8 - December 13th, 2004, 3:12 pm Post #8 - December 13th, 2004, 3:12 pm
    Bridgestone wrote:.... a slice of a decent Swedish cheese ("like, say, Grevé, Prästost or Herrgårdsost")...



    Happy St. Lucia Day, Bridgestone, and thanks very much for the report from Sweden. I must admit I haven't explored Swedish cheeses very much; I'll make a point of trying the ones you mention. The other day up in Andersonville I also stopped in Wikstrom's delicatessen, and I didn't see any of those in their dairy case, but now, looking at Wikstrom's web page, I find that all three types are listed. Next time I'll know to ask.

    I did, however, on that visit get some of Wikstrom's Gothenborg sausage, which is like a summer sausage and quite good, along with some creamy havarti. Also a bag of "gummi stock cars" for the youngest member of the family and two large stars made of woven straw which are hanging up in our living room windows now.

    Now, a question to Andersonville bar-goers: does Simon's always have a neon sign in the window proclaiming "It's Glögg Time!" or is that just on in the winter?

    Wikstrom's Gourmet Foods
    5247 N. Clark St.
    Chicago, IL 60640
    Ph. 773-275-6100
    http://www.wikstromsgourmet.com
    Mon - Sat: 9-6 & Sun 11-5

    Simon's Tavern
    5210 N. Clark St.
    773-878-0894
  • Post #9 - December 13th, 2004, 3:25 pm
    Post #9 - December 13th, 2004, 3:25 pm Post #9 - December 13th, 2004, 3:25 pm
    Amata wrote:I did, however, on that visit get some of Wikstrom's Gothenborg sausage, which is like a summer sausage and quite good, along with some creamy havarti...



    Let me add my two cents: I think the Gothenborg sausage is really excellent; a very well balanced, young sausage, apparently made in-house...

    Nam nam.

    A

    P.S. Hey, wasn't Santa Lucia a nice Napoletana girl?
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #10 - December 13th, 2004, 5:47 pm
    Post #10 - December 13th, 2004, 5:47 pm Post #10 - December 13th, 2004, 5:47 pm
    Which reminds me, I happened to be in Park Ridge and I saw a little meat market called Kelly's, which claimed (a bit incongruously) "Homemade Swedish sausage." I bought some frozen in a package. I have no real idea what kind of sausage this is or anything. Any idea on what to do with it? Or how to determine a little more closely just what sub-variety it might be?
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  • Post #11 - December 14th, 2004, 3:28 am
    Post #11 - December 14th, 2004, 3:28 am Post #11 - December 14th, 2004, 3:28 am
    Thanks for the Lucia wishes! Lucia was, in fact, an Italian (a workmate says from Sicily, though). A fact that is neither lost on the Swedes or the numerous Italian tourists one see on the streets of Stockholm soaking up the cold weater and the "exotic" short days!

    I'm just as interested as you may be in figuring out what "Swedish sausage" may be... Swedes do love their sausage but what I usually end up buying is imported - salsicca-style fresh sausage from Italy and many, many German wursts (sidenote: arguably the best and perhaps only streetfood worth mentioning in Stockholm is a sausage-kiosk about two blocks away from the city's fanciest market - Östermalmshallen. You can get a Thuringer Weisswurst - made with, among other things, veal and tarragon - from the friendly couple running the place for around 40 kronor. It is served stuffed into a half loaf of hollowed-out french bread that is press-toasted and filled with saurkraut, mustard and picante sauce!) I suppose I could come up with some examples of non-cured sausages that Swedes make/eat but cured? I'm at a loss... Any distinguishing features?

    No, wait, I've got it now... It's probably a "cognacwurst" or "medwurst" - cured, with a sour tang and sometimes lightly smoked. It's good stuff and often eaten on sandwiches or around the holidays. We usually stick to ham which is perhaps why it didn't pop into my head...

    It'll be interesting to see how the cheeses taste, Amata. When trying to impress I always purchase aged ("lagrad") versions as the young cheese normally do not have too terribly much taste. Although, to be honest, the younger cheeses are better for breakfast sandwiches...

    In closing, I really must ask what Antonius meant by "nam nam"! Was it an expression of tastiness? It certainly has another meaning in Swedish!
  • Post #12 - December 14th, 2004, 12:30 pm
    Post #12 - December 14th, 2004, 12:30 pm Post #12 - December 14th, 2004, 12:30 pm
    Bridgestone wrote:In closing, I really must ask what Antonius meant by "nam nam"! Was it an expression of tastiness? It certainly has another meaning in Swedish!


    Historical perspective is a good thing.

    Yes, nam nam is or has been lexicalised baby-talk for 'yum yum' in all the Scandinavian languages and some other languages as well (e.g., in at least part of the Spanish-speaking world).

    With regard to its use in Swedish, it does indeed appear that it has taken on a strong or even primarily (surely not exclusively) sexual connotation but that is certainly a relatively recent development. I wonder what the relationship is between the shift in meaning and the name of the popular brand of (scented/flavoured) condoms in Sweden: did an increasing use of nam nam in sexual contexts inspire the name of the condom or did the condom take an obvious semantic extension and 'institutionalise', as it were, by associating it with their product in particular and such prophylactic devices more generally? If you have knowledge in this regard, please inform us.*

    I would also be curious to know if the term is now completely out of place in polite reference to food in Sweden, at least in your experience. I would be very surprised if that were the case, since I learned the expression as meaning 'yum yum' in the 1980's from a native speaker of Swedish born in the 1950's. From what I can see, there are still some Swedes who employ the term with the non-sexual meaning, as in the following examples from on-line journals:

    ________
    journal example 1 (from December, 2002):

    Idag ska vi få julbord! Nam nam. Hoppas de lyckats med åtminstonne den maten.
    "Today we'll get (put together?) the Christmas-table! Nam nam. I hope they succeed at least with the food."
    _________
    journal example 2:

    Maten till middagen var helt enorm, älgfärsbiffar med svampsås och potatis, nam nam.

    "The midday meal was really enormous: elk-steaks with mushroom sauce and potatoes, nam nam."
    _________


    If the term does one day end up with an exclusively sexual semantic content, what will the poor little innocent babies of Sweden say when they request a further spoonful of something tasty? (Our son employed a close variant -- "am-am" -- of this rather naturally motivated sound as an infant in just such situations).

    One further notes that a quick look on the web shows that the expression is very much alive and well in Norwegian and Danish in the traditional sense of 'yum yum', as can be seen in this example:
    __________
    The sitename is «sjokolade er nam»:

    Nam nam! Hva er bedre enn melkesjokolade og et glass melk til? Det er ikke mye det! Hvem vil vel ha marsipangris av julenissen når man kan få Freia Melkesjokolade? ...
    "Yum yum! What's better than milk-chocolate and a glass of milk with it?..."
    _________

    Incidentally, 'nam nam' is glossed as 'yum yum' in those members of the not so small bank of Swedish dictionaries I have here in my office which bother to list the term, though all of those dictionaries date from before the 1990's.

    Finally, I should add that the tape used by Wikstrom's deli to seal paper wrapped packages bears a small drawing of a fish with the compounded word "sexfood" beside it. What's up with that?

    ex cathedra,
    Antonius Volcinus
    Doctor of Victological Science
    Institute of European Victology/Gesellschaft für Europäische Freßwissenschaft
    Academia Novi Belgii
    website: http://www.namnam.edu.

    * Judging from the third paragraph of the text on this webpage, Grundskolan i sex, I can better see why the prophylactic company chose this name and am somewhat inclined to suspect that the commercial application may have really helped drive the semantic shift, but that still of course does not rule out the possibility that the semantic shift predated and inspired the commercial use.
    Last edited by Antonius on June 10th, 2013, 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #13 - December 14th, 2004, 1:57 pm
    Post #13 - December 14th, 2004, 1:57 pm Post #13 - December 14th, 2004, 1:57 pm
    That was something I noticed many years ago on my first trip to Europe (at an age where snickering at condom dispensers was a high point of the trip); where American ones tend to have manly (Trojan) or sensitive guy (Lifestyles) names, the Europeans seemed to enjoy infantilizing the product-- the most startling was ABC, or (yes, it was in English, even though this was Germany) "Anti Baby Condom." (Fortunately, Carter and Brezhnev soon negotiated away the anti-baby missile systems, making Europe safe again for small children.)
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  • Post #14 - December 15th, 2004, 4:41 am
    Post #14 - December 15th, 2004, 4:41 am Post #14 - December 15th, 2004, 4:41 am
    Impressive, Antonius!

    I can only vouch for what I know and hear since moving here in '96...

    I've never heard "nam nam" used as an expression of tastiness but it certainly explains why a strawberry-flavored condom would be marketed under that name/expression. Oh, and for the sake of limiting confusion - I was only referring to the nam nam = condom situation. I haven't heard anyone using "nam nam" as a reference to anything else of a sexual nature (but I do live a pretty sheltered life over here...).

    But, doing a Google, you do look to be spot on - "nam nam" seems to be what Swedish kids say for "yummy"! My two-year old sticks mostly to "Mhmmm!" when we manage to get him to sit down and eat but I'll check with my wife this evening.

    So, how do we get back on topic? Saffron-scented condoms?

    (Thanks for the interesting language research!)
  • Post #15 - December 15th, 2004, 9:09 am
    Post #15 - December 15th, 2004, 9:09 am Post #15 - December 15th, 2004, 9:09 am
    Bridgestone:

    Thanks to you. That was fun; I really had no idea to what extent the expression had been sexualised and I enjoyed poking around Swedish cyberland trying to figure out what was up. My response reflects my real curiosity but was also in good measure tongue in cheek (my tongue, my cheek)... Freßwissenschaft should be a real field of study but...

    It's great having an LTH'er over in Sweden. Keep us posted on culinaria out your way.

    Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays
    A
    Last edited by Antonius on June 10th, 2013, 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #16 - December 15th, 2004, 10:45 am
    Post #16 - December 15th, 2004, 10:45 am Post #16 - December 15th, 2004, 10:45 am
    Incidentally, "num num" is pretty frequently used by infants here, or at least that's what we say to our 9-month old when we're feeding him something we hope he finds "yummy."
  • Post #17 - December 15th, 2004, 6:31 pm
    Post #17 - December 15th, 2004, 6:31 pm Post #17 - December 15th, 2004, 6:31 pm
    Birdie num-nums... birdie num-nums...

    (See here.)
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
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  • Post #18 - June 10th, 2017, 2:02 pm
    Post #18 - June 10th, 2017, 2:02 pm Post #18 - June 10th, 2017, 2:02 pm
    So here's a twelve-year bump, since this seems to be the main topic about Swedish Bakery, which closed this past winter. :cry:

    In case anyone else is a big fan of desserts based on almond paste like I am, I really miss their mazariners. These are individual-sized tarts, with a crumbly sweet pastry crust filled with a cakelike almond paste filling and glazed with sugar. Here is one from Swedish Bakery:
    Image
    The only place I had ever seen them was at Swedish Bakery, so I figured the only way I would have them again is if I made them myself (such as with this recipe). Until today, when I saw them at Bennison's in Evanston. They told me they don't have them every day, only once in a while (and despite frequent visits this is the first time I saw them there). They are just like the ones at Swedish Bakery, with the exception of adding a bit of raspberry jam at the bottom of the filling. And they are sheer bliss if you enjoy almond paste desserts.
    Image
    Image
  • Post #19 - February 1st, 2018, 6:26 pm
    Post #19 - February 1st, 2018, 6:26 pm Post #19 - February 1st, 2018, 6:26 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:In case anyone else is a big fan of desserts based on almond paste like I am, I really miss their mazariners.

    The other almond-paste-based dessert from Swedish Bakery that I really miss is their marzipan cake. Yesterday I found an almost identical version at Levinson's in Rogers Park, and it's terrific:
    Image
    Hallelujah!

    I posted more about the offerings at Levinson's, here.

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