Day 93: Sweden
Kristin, a friend of GirlfriendBites, has thrown a glögg party (Nordic mulled wine) every year for the past five years. Her friend who usually hosts it at her house is out of town, so this time, GFB and I are stepping up to the plate. The catch? She and her Swedish friend have to make Swedish food for everybody as well. After a pretty full day of house readying, Kristin arrives early to start setting up and making the glögg. She arrives dressed in colorful Swedish garb with a LOT of liquor, wine, food and two full bags of coffee mugs that she’s collected over the years at the glögg parties. Within minutes, the house is filled with the winter-appropriate aromas of cinnamon, clove, ginger and cardamom.
While slowly cooking two enormous pots of both Danish glögg (which includes wine and vodka) and Swedish glögg (“It’s a secret.”), she starts frying up prinskorv sausages, setting out a wide array of gorgeous, dense homemade breads (Vörtbröd), cardamom rolls called Vetebröd, a giant Swedish cracker called knäckebröd, a smaller Swedish cracker called julknacke, ginger snaps, red cabbage salad (rödkål) and a creamy red beet salad with apples. Eventually, the house is as clean as it’s gonna get, the glögg is ready and people start showing up. Kristin’s Swedish friend arrives bearing proper köttbullen (Swedish meatballs), and the rest of the food starts getting set up. Mashed potatoes, three kinds of herring (called sill— with a dill mayonnaise sauce, a lemon sauce and a mustard sauce), a doughy bun stuffed with meat and cabbage (bierox) and a crispy, baked potato-anchovy casserole (Janssons frestelse). I take my first mug of glögg as Kristin explains that “When you smell it, it should burn your nostril hairs a little.” I do, and it does. The Danish glögg is nice and vodka-y, but my preference is definitely the Swedish variety, which is more layered and complex. Both are deceptively alcoholic, but need to be drunken quickly, since when it cools it gets stickier and a lot less enjoyable. Translation: people get wasted at these parties.
The food is all great, with my favorites being the caserole, which is like a potato gratin with muted anchovy undertones, the tasty Vienna-like veal sausage, eaten with tart mustard, and the absurdly tasty homemade meatballs with lingonberry jam (note the picture of Mr. Meatball eating meatballs). The night escalates quickly, we move the glögg upstairs to the deck and set it on the grill to keep warm, a lot of the usual Man Bites World regulars arrive, and when our friend O’Ryan shows up, GFB gives her a big hug and quickly shouts “I’m wasted!”. I follow suit pretty soon, as somehow, in a not-so-Swedish way, a bunch of my friends pile into the kitchen and start doing shots of Dewar’s to celebrate Repeal Day, with me doing my shots, for reasons I’m not totally clear on, in a gravy boat. The party lasts until around four in the morning, I definitely microwave a bowl of mashed potatoes and meatballs, which make me that happiest person on the planet, and at another point, I may or may have slapped “Danielle” in the face. Altogether a really fun and awesome night, with loads and loads of respect and credit going to Kristin and her Swedish pal for making so much amazing food and drink. As usual, I’m blown away by the combined skill and kindness of the people around me, continuing my trend of being one of the luckiest dudes out there. So thanks, everybody, for a great time. Now I’ve just got to figure out if eighty five mugs will fit in my dishwasher.
Food Breakdown: Many different foods, multiple alcoholic beverages.
Distance From My House: 0.0 miles