Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cena a la Svedese et Inglese

We’ve been invited for lunches, dinners and parties so many times by our friends at the pasticceria, so we decided it was time to return the hospitality. Since none of the family had been to Sweden and they hadn’t tried Swedish food, we thought it would be a good, although risky, idea to serve a Swedish inspired menu for the evening.

After hunting for smoked salmon, brown toast bread and caviar in some Italian supermarkets we were surprised to find that a German chain had a “Scandinavian week”, which meant we found Swedish meatballs and marinated herring among their normal products. The only thing on our list that we couldn’t find was lingonberry jam.

Since Sicilians are not used to have big dinners with several courses at night (who can blame them after their 4-5 course lunch?) we had to explain that Swedish evening consists of an entrée, a hot dish and then a dessert.

They were surprised since they thought that the salmon toast they had in front of them would be enough, with a salad and some fruit. They enjoyed the entrée so much that the mum insisted on writing down all the ingredients for the sauce and the presentation. Before we served the second course, we dared them all to try some marinated herring with onion or mustard, and the reaction after eating the sweet-sour fish was quite amusing. Lots of grimaces and funny faces - they said it was too sweet and that the combination of sweet and fish was very odd. We gave them credit for being brave and trying something so foreign to them.

The main dish of meatballs, mashed potatoes and sauce was appreciated much more than the herring; with the mashed potato being a particular hit. We apologised for not having the necessary lingonberry jam to go with it, but they just seemed relieved to avoid having more sweet in their savoury.

After happily finishing off the main, they put our fruit basket and two huge trays of dolci (which they had brought) on the table. We smiled at their carefree gesture but assured them that we had prepared some dessert specially, this time with an English background. Before we introduced the desert, we made sure that they understood that we didn’t make any attempts to even compare our skills with the ones of a great pastry chef and explained that the mousse au caramel (Angel Delight) is something of an English institution. They all seemed to like it, but they couldn’t resist trying a few dolcis afterwards, and who can blame them?

Feeling stuffed but happy, we continued the evening talking and laughing until close to midnight. Good food, good friends, good times.

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