In our first newspaper interview, Jo and I were asked about our initial impressions of Sweden. My response, verbatim, was that people are helpful and good at English. I can shop at the grocery store without knowing a word of Swedish, since so many speak good English. This statement has only proven to be somewhat true.
A week or two ago, Jo and I were having another Taco-Friday, a common practice here in Ljungby. We had decided before our 4:30 practice that she would go home and start cooking while I went to the grocery store to pick up some last minute additions to our meal. Simple enough, right? Well, let me be the one to tell you this was an incorrect assumption. I walked in confident, list in hand as I towed my shopping basket behind me. Bananas? Very obvious, check. Guacamole? Same name, check. Shredded cheese? Easily found, check. Sour cream? …
We had just eaten tacos with Jaz a few days before, so I had an idea of what the container would look like. Also, sour cream is a dairy product, so it would only make sense for it to be in the milk-yogurt-cheese section of the store. I searched high and low, scouring through each and every shelf. Nothing. I calmly asked one of the employees for help. When she phoned in for backup, I knew I was in trouble. Determined to return home successfully with every item on the list, I tried to explain “sour cream” using my infamous Catch Phrase skills. This led me to the taco aisle (yes, there is a whole aisle dedicated to tacos) and the girl to ask me if I meant the taco seasoning. Clearly I’m losing my touch. Back to the dairy section, she finally pointed out this “crème fraiche” container. I took it, convinced that I had just bought some weird Swedish salad dressing that would ruin Taco-Friday. Fortunately, this was a success, and helped make our meal delicious. I’m still not 100% convinced that this is the same thing we had with Jaz, but it tasted legit enough and neither one of us complained.
Today, Jo was planning to make bacon wrapped chicken, however, we still needed toothpicks in order for her to perfect this masterpiece. Naturally, we headed to Maxi with a small shopping list. Now, toothpicks are a tricky item as they could be placed among many different areas: baking supplies, kitchenware, oral hygiene, the spice area, etc. So we searched kitchenware. Then we looked in the baking supplies. We glanced over at oral hygiene, but still, found nothing. Finally, Jo asked an employee for help, starting with “do you speak English?” When he hesitated, I knew we were in for an interesting surprise. She charaded out “toothpick”, and when the guy still looked confused, I decided to complete the rest of the list while she stayed with him. Upon my return with the milk, I see Jo chasing after our guy going a little faster than the mom mall-walker pace. I followed. The guy was taking us past all the typical American-sites for toothpicks to the…wait for it…alcohol? Sure enough, tucked in a small corner of the beer and booze section sits 2 different styles of toothpicks.
This country constantly amazes me.