“All that had happened and would happen was meant to be.
Everything happens as it is meant to be.”
– Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter
Some nights Odd reads a few pages from Nordmenn, En Illustrert Innføring by Julien S. Bourrelle, out loud to me. It’s a bit strange but it is helping me better understand the Norwegian language and culture. It is about 25 years overdue, but their customs are making much more sense now. It is even making more sense to him too! Is that possible? Dinner, as we have just learned, is NOT for socializing but for eating. This was my light bulb moment! This is when I realized why it remains so quiet at meal times. I have noticed no one really says anything worthy of discussion. They simply eat.It’s a bit bizarre, at times, because I come from a culture where everyone talks over each other. Boundaries are often crossed and we clamor over sentences as we fight to be heard. Growing up, it was a bit chaotic at large gatherings and makes me wonder how we ever had sensible conversations. And if you don’t already know, food to Filipinos is central to their hospitality and happiness. Everything else is secondary. That’s how I remember it anyway.
I have noticed that many people in Norway do not invite people over for dinner. Rather, they are invited for cake and coffee. When it comes to sweets, they seem to thrive on variety, and I find it quite challenging to resist with a robust cup of coffee. This coffee and cake event is their time to chatter about current social events.
Sjokoladepudding (chocolate pudding), Jello (yes they love Jello!) and Karamellpudding served with whipped cream, vanilla or caramel sauce. It is a little disappointing to say that these are stocked on store shelves including the sauces but everyone seems to enjoy them. Sigh. My mother-in-law, Berit’s, lovely home-baked eplekake (apple cake).Berit’s ostekake (no-bake cheesecake).Bløtkake – a traditional vanilla cake with whipped cream, jam and berries.
In many cultures or religions, prayer before the meal is used to show gratitude. In the Norwegian culture, “takk for maten”, translated to “thank you for the food”, is said after the meal. It is usually directed at the person who prepared the food or the owner of the home. This is a Norwegian custom but somehow Sheldon misunderstood it as a custom I made up (for many reasons that are too long to discuss here) – and I’m not Norwegian (although I really wouldn’t mind). Strange how things get embedded into our daily lives without understanding why. Only when we compare and contrast can we better understand the differences. Here’s a picture my father-in-law took over Christmas. We think it’s adorable that all his pictures are angled and feel lucky if everyone makes it in the shot. I love it sincerely because it is perfectly imperfect – just like us. Because another strange custom is that everything needs to be divided equally (seriously, that’s how they roll, folks!), here is a picture with my father-in-law, Ole.
Happy Sunday. Ha det bra. Bye.