Monday, 21 June 2010

Finding your way around America

If you're on your way to visit America, here's a website that will help you find your way around! It's what i use when it comes to buying tickets to particular entertainment that i wish to see while im there, but also they have great city guides!

Next time I get to go there, id definetely buy some la lakers tickets before i go, so i dont have to worry about getting a good ticket while im there:
or why not get some other games in while you're there, here's some interesting teams to watch!

There's no way better to experience America without throwing in a typical American sporting event and experience. If you get it organised before you go there, your experience will be all the more fun!!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Semla; Semlor; Some-more!

Another thing about getting to live in Sweden is the experience of Swedish traditions. One such tradition is the ‘Fat Tuesday’ (Fettisdag) related dessert that has everyone’s mouths watering with delight. One giant ball of sweet goodness, the Semla (plural Semlor) is traditionally served on ‘Shrove Tuesday’ the last Tuesday before the fasting season of Lent starts. Nowadays you can find it in all the bakeries and cake shops from just after Christmas right up to Easter.

Traditionally a plain bread bun was served in a bowl of hot milk and eaten with a spoon, but in more recent times, it is eaten as it is. These days the Semla consists of a cardamom spiced wheat bun which has its top cut off and insides scooped out and filled with sweet almond paste and freshly whipped cream. They have the cut of top as a lid, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Divine!

The Semla has a long history in Sweden, dated back to hundreds of years ago, but none is more famous than the story of the gluttonous Swedish King, Adolf Fredrick of Sweden, who famously died of digestion problems in 1771 after having consumed a giant luxurious meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, which was topped off by 14 (Yes!! Fourteen!) servings of Semla in bowls of hot milk. Not a bad way to go, since Semla was his all time favourite thing to eat.


To make a dozen Swedish semlor, you will need:

For the bun,
25g of yeast
75g of margarine or butter
200ml of milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of salt
Half a teaspoon of cardamom
500ml of sugar
700ml of plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder

For the filling,
Roughly grated almond paste
Whipping cream
Icing sugar

-Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius.
-Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the milk, and heat it till it is lukewarm, not hot.
-Transfer the liquid to a bowl, and crumble in the yeast, stir until well dissolved.
-Add salt, cardamom, 1 egg, the sugar and 600ml of the flour, and then work the mixture into dough, adding the remaining flour and the baking powder. Work it into a smooth dough.
-Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm dry place with no draft to rise for about 30 minutes or till it has risen double its size.
-Separate the dough into 12 balls, put them on baking paper sheets on an oven pan, and leave them to rise for another 30-40mins.
-Use the remaining eggs to glaze the top of the buns by beating them well and then brushing them on top of the buns.
-Bake the Semlor in the middle of your oven for 10 minutes or until they go slightly golden brown.
-Let them cool down completely before cutting the tops off, scooping out some of the middle to add the filling ingredients.
-Cut a circular lid off the top, and mix together the grated almond paste and the stuff you scooped out from inside the bun, using a little bit of milk to make a smooth paste, and use this to fill the hole in the Semla.
-Whip the cream and pipe it on top of the almond paste.
-Replace the lid to sit back on top of the bun, and lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sällskapsresor- The Ultimate guide to Swedish behaviour

To truly enjoy life in Sweden, and possibly even function well as a ’Swede’, one must intensely observe and understand the goings on in the quintessential Swedish Classic Movie ‘Sällskapsresan’, as I found out. There are 5 movies in total in the movie series (which have their own name but together referred to ‘Sällskapsresor’), each one dealing with different situations in which you get to see and find out how stereotypical Swedes behave. It pokes fun at Swedish stereotypes while ultimately vindicating them.

The set of movies begin with ‘Sällskapsresan’ which went on to be the most famous of the set, and deals with the charter boom in Sweden in the 70’s. T he main character, Stig-Helmer Olsson is hapless, gullible and uncoordinated, and therefore gets himself into all sorts of trouble. But it is the rest of the characters in this movie which all in turn relate back to a Swedish stereotype. There are the two alcoholics, spending the entire length of the film looking for the 80% rum that they plan to smuggle back to Sweden in wine bottles; the typical Swedish couple, newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Storch; one Norwegian, and two very spirited middle aged post-divorce women looking for a good time, fun and pleasure on their holiday.

The films are directed by Lasse Åberg who plays the very famous character of Stig-Helmer, and it is through him that we are presented with movies which capture in great comical detail the typical Swede. There were many a time, when I had an ‘aha!’ moment while watching the movies, as ‘typical’ Swedish behaviour was presented to me so straightforwardly. This Swedish classic is loved by every Swede I know, and they don’t mind priding themselves on pointing out how typical all the Swedish characters and their actions and behaviour are. After all, it’s all very Swedish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A moment captured in Colour

Taken from the BBC-documentary series 'Edwardians In Colour The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn' episode 3 'Europe on the brink'

Pictures shown are taken by Albert Kahn’s photographers in Macedonia. The pictures are from 1912 and they are one of the first in the world taken in color. Please notice Macedonia written in French "MACEDOINE" on the left hand part of the pictures.
Albert Kahn, a banker and philanthropist from France (born at Marmoutier, Bas-Rhin, France on March 3, 1860, died at Boulogne-Billancourt, Seine, France on the night of November 14, 1940) was probably one of the world’s first to capture our history in colour.

It all began for him, when after a trip to Japan in 1909 he returned home with many photographs of his trip. He immediately began a project to collect a photographic record of the entire earth. He sent photographers to every corner of the world to capture moments in history that we can enjoy to this very day. They captured images using the first colour photography, autochrome plates, and early cinematography. Between 1909 and 1931 they collected a substantial record of the earth in 72,000 colour photographs. These form a unique historical record of 50 countries, known as "The Archives of the Planet".

His photographers began capturing life in France in 1914, just days before the outbreak of World War I, and by working together with the military, they captured the devastation of the war, and the struggle to continue everyday life amidst all the chaos.

Since 1986 the photographs have been collected into a museum at 14, Rue du Port, Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, at the site of his garden. It is now a French national museum and includes four hectares of gardens, as well as the museum which houses his historic photographs and film.
This is an exceptional effort, which deserves to be appreciated, and when one can, to visit this museum and enjoy the delights (and of course horrors) of seeing moments in history captured on film.

Infiltrating Swedish Society

As someone who can call three very different countries home, I can certainly tell you a thing or two about the life and experiences of living in each. But to put it in a shell, I was born in Macedonia, moved to Australia at 4 years old, and ended up slinging my sack over my shoulder and moving to Sweden at the tender age f 23.

There is a drastic change in terms of living conditions and economic resources when one moves from a poor economic country like Macedonia, to a much more wealthy and thriving country like Australia, especially in the 80’s, which was when I moved there. There is a reason why Australia is called ‘the land of plenty’, and in terms of jobs, produce and culture, there is an infinite amount of each. Not to mention nature. We are surrounded by ocean on every corner, and seem to have a never ending amount of desert in the middle. If its nature you’re interested in there’s a never ending supply of forest, coast, desert and fauna to scope out.

But my experience of moving to Sweden, however drastic it may seem to you, at the beginning didn’t feel that way to me. Between Australia and Sweden, for me there was not much of a difference in terms of economic situations, jobs, housing, produce, culture…. Or so I thought. Taking a closer look, you do find major changes, and differences. Not in the same way as it was when I moved from Macedonia to Australia, where the differences where so stark, there was no hiding from the truth. Here the differences only appeared when you are forced into situations that makes you aware of them.

For example the race to find a job, opens your eyes to a one major difference between Australia and Sweden. Australians are inundated with jobs (or so it seems to me who had no trouble finding 4 jobs at the same time when money was tight)… whereas here in Sweden it has been 8 months now of non stop searching, and no job, not one! I didn’t even get to do the ‘Praktik’ (or internship) I was promised in the SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) course that I was studying Swedish in, because there was no Architectural jobs that were available, not even for an unpaid (they call it volunteer) intern. I’m an Architect, but for the last 8 months, mostly because of the world economic collapse, I’ve been applying for jobs for anything. Cleaning, check; baker, check; retail assistant, check; tennis coach, check… everything! But in the end: nothing.

As we continue along, differences pop up everywhere. Some quite obvious, some quite discreet. We have different weather (Australia, warm climate; Sweden, cold climate), different language (which you need to learn to be able to live a fully functioning life here, no matter what everyone says about Swedes and their English!), different culture (yes folks! Even though Sweden prides themselves as a multi-.cultural, ethnically aware country, in reality, this is far from the truth, especially for a multi-cultural Australian), different food (Swedish ‘husmanskost’ is quite boring at times, but there are so many to choose from that are quite delectable), not to mention the difference in transport preference here. Where in Australia every man and his dog owns a car for the sake of getting around that bloody big country of ours, here most people would prefer the joys of public transport, which is far more consistent and better quality than the Australian (sigh!) public transport system, which I must say I hopeless and untrustworthy, and too far away from any home to be of any good really.

But in the midst of finding all these difference between the countries, you do find many things that both Australians and Swedes share. Like the love for nature. Both of the countries share a diverse flora, and are proud of it, and will do anything to enjoy it when they can. The love for water, coasts and water sports is there too. Swedes are just as passionate about their coasts as Australians are.

The differences are all there, whether we want them to be or not and as much as any man rants and raves about situations he’s not quite used to or comfortable in, the best approach is always with open eyes, open heart, and a big smile. We are all very similar after all, nobody likes a bitter pessimist. There is no countryman in Sweden who wouldn’t accept you with open arms if you show him how big your heart is, and win him over with your smile. This always makes life that much easier for all of us, expats, countrymen/women, and everyone else.