Thursday, August 27, 2009


Swedish-Americans can be annoying in their Swedish pride.  Depending on what part of the USA in which you reside, you may be painfully aware of this fact, or blissfully ignorant.  I know it well, being of this heritage myself.  And though I agree that it can be annoying, I contribute to it.  In fact, this is the coffee mug I drink from at work, inherited from my desperately Swede-centric Uncle Bryce:-)

But I am a black sheep in the Swedish-American community.  Is it because I married a Danish-American?  No.  I like to think the Scandinavian-Americans are past these silly divisions, though I'm probably wrong.

No, I am guilty of something far drastic, something that is personally and morally reprehensible in the eyes of many.  Are you ready for it?  

I don't put lingonberries on my Swedish pancakes.  There.  I said it.  True confession.

Now you may be thinking, "what's the big deal?  The man's entitled to his own taste, right?"


A bit of background: Lingonberries are tiny, red berries, probably most closely related to the cranberry.  When stewed into a jam-like sauce, it is a truly beautiful thing, and a unique contribution from the Scandinavians.  In the minds of most, this berry confection is a perfect complement to a heaping helping of Swedish pancakes, a wonderfully ethnocentric breakfast, hopefully served on a blue and white porcelain plate.

My refusal to put lingonberries on my Swedish pancakes is not because I dislike the magic red sauce.  I love lingonberries.  I repeat:

I love lingonberries.

But, I also love Swedish pancakes.  I mean, I love Swedish pancakes.  It's really not healthy.  I am a ruthless and irrational defender of the goodness of the greatest breakfast food on the planet.  And this is why I cannot bear to cover them in lingonberries.  Lingonberries are wonderful, but they are powerful, and when slathered upon the culinary perfection of a Swedish pancake, they overwhelm its scintillating flavors.  I find a simple coat of butter to draw out the natural goodness of the pancake better than lingonberries.  

Swedish pancakes need no savior, and so I eat them with butter only.  

And I save the lingonberries for those foods which are in need of redemption: whole wheat toast, rye toast, biscuits, and when I'm really in an international mood, an English muffin.  

So if you're ever in Rockford, IL, and find your taste buds craving the sort of salvation that only comes through Scandinavian cuisine, do yourself a favor and stop by the Stockholm Inn.  

And I suppose you can make your own decision about the lingonberries.  

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At 2:06 PM EDT , Blogger Matt said...

What about powdered sugar? You've got to sweeten them a little, otherwise, they're just crepes!

At 9:10 PM EDT , Blogger Ingrid said...

A) Your culinary sensitivity is truly impressive.

B) Real Swedes put lingonberries on meatballs (or sausage) and boiled potatoes, not pancakes. And pancakes are not breakfast. They're dessert. To be eaten with jam and/or sugar.

C) Thoughts on Swedish-American-ism from a native Swede's perspective:

1) You're not Swedish.
2) This is 2009, not 1850.
3) Putting potatoes in one's sausage was not exactly a sign of desirable social status. There's a reason you can't find 'potatiskorv' in a Swedish deli in Sweden. See #2.
4) Wooden shoes? Are you serious? See #'s 2 and 3, substituting 'wooden shoes' and 'shoestore' in the logical places for #3.

At 3:35 PM EDT , Blogger Tall Pants said...

Ingrid, brilliant as usual.

Also, hilarious!

At 9:39 AM EDT , Blogger Brad said...

Breakfast = Dagwood

At 8:24 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

At 7:25 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ingrid, you're not only NOT funny, you are rude.

The blog author is indeed Swedish. He is Swedish-American. It's its own thing. Trust me. He knows it.

I am lucky enough to be married to my own Swede. A real one. From Sweden. He doesn't play the "Swede" police--if people feel like being Swedish, he let's them. His own parents were born in, gasp...Finland. You know those people you kicked around for hundreds of years? Yes, them.

I too have Swedish roots. Great-great grandfather was a Swedish....Sami. Yeah, those. More of the people you Swedes were bad too.

Ingrid, it's Swedes like you who annoy me and make me wake up every day and guess what? Be glad I am so not Swedish. You all are the most pompous, smug, sanctimonious people in the whole Fenno/Scandinavian region. In fact, is there no secret you are the butt of all Norwegian, Danish, & Finnish jokes? Even the Icelanders love to get a crack at you every now and again.

At 2:13 AM EST , Blogger Ingrid said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm not Swedish. I'm an American who is only half 4th-generation Swedish. I regularly make Swedish pancakes and, on special occasions, put lingonberries on them. I bake pepparkakor every Christmas. I have dressed up as Lucia several times. I enjoy and appreciate tradition, my own and other people's, and I respect it when I believe that respect is due. I find 21st century Swedish-American infatuation with a sentimentalized 19th century version of Swedishness very funny.

Andrew is my friend. He shares my sarcastic sense of humor. He is quite bright and articulate and perfectly capable of standing up for himself should he need to defend himself against me.

I was mocking ethnic pretension in general, not lack of Swedishness or any other arbitrary grounds for presuming someone else inferior. I find that people are uniformly silly regardless of race or nationality.

The comments above are a caricature of reactions by real Swedes to me and my fellow 19-year-old travelers, some of whom took their Swedish-Americanness a little too seriously and were perhaps even astonished or disappointed to find that Sweden is a modern country with real people and real problems as opposed to the coloring-book fairy tale they had in their imaginations. I suspect that some of us had a hard time accepting that neither Swedishness nor Americanness was as good a reason for feeling special as we had assumed.

I apologize for inadvertently ruining your day. Peace.

At 9:57 AM EST , Blogger Tall Pants said...

Ingrid, I'm delighted to hear that you consider me "bright and articulate." Right back at ya :)

And Anonymous, do I know you? Just curious.

I didn't know this topic would create such a ruckus!

At 2:10 PM EST , Blogger Ingrid said...


You're welcome. "Profundity and absurdity"--'nuff said. ; )


At 8:00 PM EST , Anonymous matt enquist said...

the reason you wrote this post is because you possess the other defining Swedish characteristic... an overzealous sense of guilt!


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