...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, April 20, 2009

post-Easter post

Aside from last week's bike tour, we other things during the Easter weekend. We were invited to our friend Björn's parents' summer house where we made ribs "our way", and I also read my first påskekrim in the Norwegian (but not particularly Swedish) tradition of reading crime novels on Easter week.

Playing boule during our loooong wait for Easter lunch. Boule is a French lawn game involving heavy metal balls. The teams compete to get their balls nearest a smaller ball, "the jack"

Un-fast food

You see, from time to time we think we have great food ideas that we're eager to share with friends. So when Björn invited us for a shared Easter Sunday lunch, we recommended that it should be slow-broiled ribs. I love ribs. I discovered that I loved ribs about three years ago when we ordered one from a food court and I smacked my oily lips in satisfaction after I licked the bones clean. What's even better is we found out that if you prepare them yourself, they turn out more delicious for the fraction of the price of store-bought. The down-side is that you have to wait all four (!) hours for a cooked meal, but I promise you that the meat literally falls from the bone with a bite. We even perfected a marinade rub: salt, Knorr meat-and-grill seasoning, cayenne pepper and chipotle-flavored Tabasco. The ribs cook 3 hours on a 125 C-degree oven, and thereafter covered in foil for an hour in 175 degrees C.

We were prepared for the wait on Easter day and even watched a movie to pass the time. One hour after the movie began, however, Björn walked to the kitchen to fetch a drink and came back with bad news. Nobody pushed the start button on the microwave-grill! Our four-hour wait would be a five-hour wait, and there was nothing edible in the summer house but candy. We were also several kilometers away from the nearest grocery.

So after three and a half hours, wherein the movie finished and we tried to pass more time by playing many rounds of boule, we all became too hungry. We instead decided to take the ribs out of the oven and brown the surface with a little bit of coal-grilling, since the grill was outside.

It wasn't a good idea with red-hot coals. The fat began to drip on the grill and cause flames, and when we put the flames out and turned the ribs, they were... charred.

Calle, in the foreground holding his fingers in a cup of water, is ready to put out the flames from the grill. Björn turns the ribs, and we discover that the burnt side was, well, burnt.

We were too hungry to care and we ate fast, but the ribs turned out to be good anyway. Not great, but good. Or maybe we were just hungry. If you have time and other stuff to eat during the four-hour wait though, I really do recommend the slow oven-cooking.

Påskekrim, a Norwegian tradition

I recently read about a Norwegian tradition of reading crime novels on Easter break and thought it would be a nice Easter theme to follow the tradition myself. Unfortunately, it's been such a long time since I read a fiction book ("fact" books don't count), so I also had a personal motive for copying the tradition: I simply want to re-discover reading as a hobby.

The news article I read says the tradition of reading påskekrim, literally "Easter crime (novel)" in Norwegian, began in the 1920s with the publication of such a book coinciding with the Easter break. Since Norwegians have longer Easter breaks than Swedes and they usually spend this time alone in their cabins, picking up an easy but engaging novel became the natural choice of entertainment during the week. Nowadays in Norway, even crime-radio dramas and crime TV soaps are part of the phenomenon, but the books are still a large tradition and publishing houses simultaneously come out with their own påskekrim on Easter week.

My choice is an old book, Män som hatar kvinnor (Men who hate women) by Stieg Larsson. This Swedish crime novel was a bestseller and the film version, which came out in February, has earned good reviews and a large following (it's still showing, too). My colleague said this was a book which would keep me glued, comparing it to Dan Brown's page-turners.

However, just as the ribs, it was good but not great. After some rabid reading, I reached the culmination of the story three-fourths into the book and the whole thing just went downhill. The resolution was too protracted I was mostly reading on just to get the whole thing over with. There's a sequel too, but nothing in the book made me want to drop whatever I was doing to get the continuation (Come to think of it, the only time I felt like that was after reading The Two Towers, and it would be unfair to compare). Still, I'll probably come to read the next Stieg Larsson book anyway since my colleague has it and she's eager for me to read the whole series. I'll give it a try. But maybe I should read Henning Mankell instead? My dad's into him, which I think is interesting: if I read Mankell, I would have discovered the Swedish author the "long route" through my dad in the Philippines reading English translations of the original Swedish. Talk about globalization.

And hey, dad: if you want to pick up Larsson's book, the English title is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and you can read about the Times Online review here. The Times seemed to have enjoyed the story more than I did though, but you can make your own mind about it.

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