Archive for January, 2016

Sweden, the Land of Germany Tomorrow

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Everybody knowing even a bit about me knows that I live in Germany and I’d rather live in Sweden. One of the reasons is that Sweden feels like future (i.e. improved) version of Germany, and here I finally explain why.

Railways. While railway system in Germany is mostly fine it still can have some improvements: train carriages should have an electric outlet per seat. Now it’s fulfilled only in ICE 1st class seats without neighbouring seats. Also hassle-free (or simply free) WiFi onboard. Also it would be nice to have tilting trains like X2000 because it’s all fine and good when you have dedicated high-speed line but quite often you don’t and it would benefit more to have higher speed there (quick example: route Mannheim–Saarbrücken takes 1:32 by Regional Express with its 6 stops or 1:19 by ICE/TGV with only one intermediate stop). And Sweden is more liberal in a sense that now you have line Stockholm–Göteborg serviced by both SJ and MTR expresses (compared to that France where they mark every railway station as belonging to SNCF feels like Ukraine).

Service. Sweden has supermarkets open every day (shorter opening hours on holidays of course) and they also contain local post office too (here post offices are usually selling stationery and some goods from local supermarket instead and share the space with Postbank instead). In Germany almost everything is closed on Sundays. Also it’s funny how in Sweden Lidl can be considered low-tier supermarket (Hemköp/Willy:s, ICA and Coop are much better), in Germany Lidl is considered middle-tier supermarket and in Czech Republic it’s considered one of the best. And there’s much better recycling: all plastic bottles are accepted by the same machine (here you bottles that should be recycled elsewhere and bottles that are not recycled at all), there’s printing on packaging where it should sort to (i.e. hard/soft plastic, paper, metal etc) and water quality is way higher too.

Religion. Sweden definitely doesn’t bother with Christianity that much (and that’s why I enjoy visiting Swedish churches). And as a nice touch even in the centre of Stockholm you have squares named after Odin and Thor and a street called “way to Valhalla”. In Germany they still cannot admit that Wednesday is Wotan’s (or Odin’s) day.

Government offices. Sweden has got it right—census matters are handled by the tax office. Germany is yet to realize that idea. One can point out that in the USA citizenship and taxpaying are the same thing (since you have to file a declaration in any case and pay taxes even if you live and work abroad) but the execution in this case is botched.

P.S. I blame lu_zero for not giving reasons to blame him in this post in the usual way.

Swedish Food Guide for Some Restricted Cases

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

So it has come to this. Looks like I should not eat the best Sweden can offer—namely, meat (especially game) and seafood (especially herring). Well, what can I eat in Sweden then?

Not surprisingly there are still many good and tasty things for me. Let’s see…

Chicken. At least in Stockholm any decent supermarket offers warm grilled chicken—full, half or just legs. And each supermarket offers its own brand of chicken sausages to grill.

Dairy products. Beside my favourite cheese and filmjölk varieties there are still many nice and crazy things, like youghurt-quark or drinkable quark (or ordinary cottage cheese that goes well with blueberry-raspberry jam).

Bread and pastry. Sweden has much better bread variety than Germany—that means more different kinds of bread, especially hard bread (if you’re German feel free to stay offended anyway or go discuss beer with Czechs). I also like västerbottenostpaj—a pie with Västerbotten cheese. And semlor. And various Swedish cakes. I should note that Swedes like to use cinnamon and whipped cream in various dishes and rare Swedish cake has no whipped cream. When I was staying at an hotel in Örnsköldsvik (or simply Ö-vik for locals) it has a large bowl of whipped cream among other things for breakfast. And I guess if I simply sprinkle some cinnamon onto a lump of whipped cream it will make Swedish Minimal Cake (I’d like it for sure). And of course marzipan pigs in season.

Crisps(chips). You have it under both names and they are extremely tasty. And when Swedes get bored with potatoes they can make any root into chips, including the ones I’ve never eaten in other form. Here in Germany I bought a packet of chips only once and it was Svenska LantChips of course.

Snacks in general. They usually occupy half of my bag when I return from Sweden (the rest is mostly drinks and other stuff). Wonderful nut mixes, dried fruit and berries, various confectionery things. And of course all supermarkets (beside lidl-iest of them) have naturgodis section where one can mix various sorts of these (think of loose candy stand but with dried strawberries, roasted almonds, peanuts in chocolate and such). And loose candy stands with at least dozen varieties are really everywhere.

Fruits and berries. Paradoxically I can buy vendetta oranges in Sweden but I’ve not seen them here in Germany—Sweden must be closer to Italy then (BTW I still blame lu_zero for not recognizing short name for Sicilian blood oranges despite pretending to know a lot about citruses). There’s wider selection of fruit than in Germany. And there’s much much better selection of berries. You have traditional raspberries, blueberries, black and red currants, RIMs, strawberries and also Nordic berries—Swedish blueberries (they are smaller and have more intense taste), lingon, cranberries and cloudberries. In Norrland in season you can get even more. On my arrival in December I bought some cherries in supermarket—they were available both fresh and frozen (and it’s hard to buy even frozen cherries in Germany outside season). And I like cherries, especially sour ones (BTW I blame lu_zero for being a competition).

Drinks. Sweden has the best water in the world and one can enjoy drinking tap water there (unlike tolerating tap water in Germany and doing it at your own risk in Ukraine). And that’s why a lot of drinks are sold as concentrates that you have to dilute yourself in proportion 1:3 or 1:6. And because it’s Sweden you have good selection of drinks based on berry juice. I especially like blueberry-cranberry and blueberry-raspberry drinks and of course lingon. Carbonated soft drinks are the best in the world too (and if word Trocadero doesn’t tell you anything you’re reading a wrong blog) but I wrote about it many times.

And of course julskinka. I’m Ukrainian after all.

Again on Danish “Julmust”

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Last year I’ve said some harsh words about some Danish pÃ¥skmust. Just in case I was wrong I decided to recheck it and bought another bottle. Here are the pictures:

IMG_4852

IMG_4854

In case you don’t see the list of ingredients it contains:

  • carbonated water;
  • elderberry juice;
  • blackcurrant juice;
  • sugar;
  • grape juice;
  • malt extract;
  • spices;
  • caramel colour;
  • hops;
  • citric acid.

And it tastes like POSIX julmust from AIX brewery would taste—it has right ingredients but also lots of things normally not found in julmust and the taste is weird in result. Only people with perverted taste like Danes (remember, one of them invented C++ and is not ashamed of it) or lu_zero(whom I blame for his tastes quite often) would like it.