Det finns ingen "evaporated milk" i Sverige. Well, that's not entirely true, of course, but it is an odd specialty item that you can only find in the foreign section of some grocery stores, or Asian markets. For some reason evaporated milk came up at fika last Wednesday, and the Swedes had never heard of it. Sweetened, condensed milk, yes: evaporated milk, no. "It's not sweet?" they said, puzzled.
We have a few cans of the stuff (country of origin: Holland) that Joe found on the "discontinued" shelf at a grocery, and we had used half of one for macaroni and cheese the other night, so I took the rest of the can in to work yesterday morning. The fika crowd peered at it skeptically. "But it's a little yellow," said S. doubtfully. Well, yes a little, because the lactose carmelizes, and so it's a little sweet too, but not much. Bravely, K. took a small spoonful of it. "It tastes like milk," she said with surprise. Yes, yes, it is milk, just milk, I reassured her. Others took small amounts, and each one of them said "It tastes like milk" in the same odd tone of voice. "Milk but... more milky," said someone. "But it's in a can," said E. She looked at the bottom. "It says it's good until January 2010," she said with a tone of disbelief. "Was this some sort of American invention for the nuclear war?"
It makes me wonder what other little cultural differences remain to be unearthed. It also makes me wish I could adequately convey the intense and grave suspicion with which they all regarded that poor can of evaporated milk.