Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fat Tuesday

Jennifer Today is Fat Tuesday, and in Scandinavia, the day is marked by the consumption of special pastries called semla, which are cardamom yeast buns cut in half, smeared with a layer of marzipan, then filled up with whipped cream before the top is placed back on. The whole pastry is about the size of a large hamburger. Today's afternoon coffee break featured about a dozen boxes full of them, and everybody had one with their coffee (I have not yet seen anyone refuse or even pretend to protest the consumption of any sweet treat).
The multinational group that I sat with included representatives from Sweden, Mexico, Latvia, and Poland, and we had a good time discussing the various traditions by which each culture marks this day and Lent in general. In Latvia, they eat lots of pancakes; in Poland, they celebrate Fat Day on Thursday instead, and I amazed the Pole by knowing about (and pronouncing) pączki ("I'm from Michigan," I explained). The Mexicans did indeed perform the cascarone ceremony on Easter, and they laughed as they recalled, from their teenage years, that as a trick on each other, they would fill their eggs with things like flour instead of the usual confetti.

To further protest Catholicism in Sweden it became a tradition to have semla not just on Fat Tuesday, but on every Tuesday from now until Easter. Semla are absolutely delicious, but I am secretly hoping that I will not be expected to eat one a week for the next month. Woof. 

There were about eight or so left over from the coffee break so I brought one home for Joe. However, he ate it before I could take a picture; hence the picture from Wikipedia. Our semla looked just like that, though.

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