Thursday, April 29, 2010

II. Bilar

Bilar in Swedish means Cars.

Every day, thousands of Swedes drive to work in their Ahlgren’s Bilar, which are made of a delicious and chewy almost marshmallowy substance.

This is the most delicious candy in the world and when I was recently in Sweden and had to leave and cross the border from Denmark to Germany I was commanded by a cuckoo’s homesickness for the land I’d just left (and was only leaving for a couple of weeks) to buy a tax free mega travel pack of Ahlgren’s Bilar on the ferry from Rødby to Puttgarden.

These lasted me a while, even when sharing with all the Germans, Britons, Australians and New Yorkers I met.

The Germans didn’t like Ahlgren’s Bilar.

Germans are wrong.

Incidentally, Ahlgren’s was apparently bought by the Finnish company Huhtamäki way back in 1993, and Bilar was the only confectionary to keep the Ahlgren’s name.

Since I have a very dear friend in Switzerland who loves the Finnish almost as much as I love the Swedish, I’ve decided it’s ok for me to still buy and love Bilar. (We all know I wouldn’t be able to stop anyway.)

Also, Bilar is now available in Nyhet saltaste model!

Why do the Swedish have to make candy salty? Why?

This is my biggest point of contention with Sweden, and will be further explored in depth in a post on Djungelvrål.

I. Introduction

Why write a blog about Sweden and my weird, rampant love for it? Why write a blog at all?

As the old adage goes, write what you know and write what you are passionate about.

After years of trying and failing to write about relationships, mental illnesses, dragons, windswept romances, the fabric of society and the general meaning of life, I recently had the epiphany that the one thing I never, ever shut up about in day to day conversation, the one thing I always have energy to talk about if anyone even obscurely, abstractly or peripherally brings it up, is Sweden.

I don’t know why. I don’t have these answers for you. I have theories.

As I’ve tried to explain to every frightened looking Swedish stranger I’ve ambushed with sudden awe and adoration (just for being a Swede) it goes a little (or exactly, each time) like this:

I have a friend S.

S is my best, dearest and oldest friend in the whole world. S doesn’t believe in best friends and once told me “I love you, but you’re a terrible person.” But he’s still my best friend.

As I remember it, it was in the childhood living room of S when we were somewhere between 8 and 12 years old. We were watching TV together and stumbled upon an SBS documentary.

For any non-Australians, SBS is our largest hybrid funded Australian broadcasting network, with the stated purpose

to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society”.

What this means is some access to very interesting and entertaining films and documentaries from all over the world.

What this also means when you’re 8 to 16 is a chance to watch some bizarre soft core porn late at night.

Now I don’t think we were up late. I think this happened after school one day. Backpacks thrown on the ground, chair and sofa space taken up. No wait, maybe it was late at night..

I believe we ended up watching a documentary about Sweden during which my eyes were opened to a whole new egalitarian utopia.

As it happens, on further scrutiny of the memory, I think it was about the wide availability of pornography. And I think it was about Denmark, not Sweden.

No matter. Denmark is an old love; Sweden is true love.

So there we have it, I don’t know why I have all of this genuinely earnest and pathetically dogged love for a relatively unheard-of country zinging around in my body. I just don’t know.

But it’s there.

So in order to channel it out I am writing this blog and this blog will have two main purposes and hopefully two main audiences: Swedes and Non-Swedes.

  • To educate and enlighten Non-Swedes on all of the wonderful absurdities that there are to love and irrelevant bits of information I care to express about this Nordic land of wonder.
  • To make Swedes laugh. At me and at themselves. But more than that, I want Swedes (who are typically so proud, level and ruthlessly unpatriotic) to see what they have through the eyes of a girl who loves them and everything about them so much that they can’t help but feel a little proud (at least inwardly, quietly and secretly) of who they are and appreciate everything that they’ve got.

I want to melt at least five Swedish hearts by the time I’m done.

And then in true Viking fashion I will eat those hearts raw on a scramasax.