Välkommen to the Bamba

When my kids started school a few months ago, I quickly learned the importance of the word ‘bamba’, which is local Gothenburg slang for the school cafeteria.  Intially, this word cracked me up because every time one of them would mention it,  I would eagerly belt out, ‘Para bailar la bamba…etc…’, which completely and utterly embarrassed them.  So now I’ve decided to control my inner popstar diva self and focus my efforts on inquiring about their ‘middag’ (midday) meal.

Traditionally, ‘middag’ has been considered the main meal of the day in Sweden.  Each day around noon, Swedish students eagerly rush to the ‘Bamba’ in order to see what savory dish awaits.  A typical meal will include a full salad bar, main course (protein and carbohydrate), milk, fresh fuit and knäckebröd (a hard Swedish cracker made with whole grains and seeds).  Special dietary needs are always catered for.  Students are expected to serve themselves, while teachers monitor and assist when necessary.  Then teachers and students sit together and enjoying a bountiful, healthy meal and each other’s company.

‘Bamba’ is certainly a far cry from the cafeterias I endured as child.  First of all, pizza, chips, greasy hamburgers, vending machines and soda are no where to be found.  This is Sweden…the land of healthy living!  Secondly, Bamba provides children with another learning opportunity.  Teachers modelling proper table manners while socializing and eating with the children instills in them that mealtimes are not simply about eating, but rather are also times to relax and enjoy each other’s company.  Finally, this ‘middag’ meal is free to all students.  This fact alone demonstrates how valuable the Swedish government thinks it is!   It’s no secret that healthy, well-fed students will have better behavior and more effective learning in the classroom.

Maybe if other countries adopted a similar approach as the Swedish Bamba, then student achievement, behavior and overall health might improve?  After all, you are what you eat!  However, I realize that certain cultural precedents and societal values need to be in place before the vending machines are rolled out the door, along with the the pizza and greasy burgers.

Meanwhile, välkommen to the Bamba…it’s a great place to be!


Hej Då Oregon Pinot

While spending the past four years living in Oregon’s beautiful and bountiful Willamette Valley, I quickly developed a love for Oregon wines, especially pinot noir!  Well, needless to say, this passion led to the accumulation of some pretty amazing bottles.   The following have been some of my favorites;

Dusky Goose 2007 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir

Evening Land 2012 Seven Springs Vineyard ‘La Source’ Pinot Noir

Beaux Freres 2014 Beaux Freres Vineyard Pinot Noir

Domaine Serene 2014 Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir

Soter Vineyards 2014 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir

Sadly, only two bottles from my cherished wine collection made it to Sweden, primarily due to the cost of shipping wine internationally.  The remaining bottles were enthusiastically enjoyed during my last few days in Oregon with the help of our friends!  Needless to say, a hangover also accompanied me on my flight back to Sweden!!

So far I have only found a few bottles of Oregon pinot noir in Systembolaget, which is the Swedish chain of stores that is allowed to sell alcohol.  Most of the Oregon wines are considered to be a bit pricey and rare, so they have to be specially ordered.  This poses a problem because patience is not one of the virtues I possess, especially when it involves pinot noir!!  (Cool alliteration…huh?)

So the lack of Oregon pinot noir in my life simply means that I will need to explore and hopefully find a substitute.  I’ve heard that Scandinavia is possibly the next wine frontier due to global warming (yes, it does exists!!).  So maybe I’ll start exploring my wine options locally?  Wish me luck!






Marvelous Muesli

One of the things I love most about my day is having breakfast.  I can’t imagine skipping this wondrous meal.  Prior to living in Sweden, my breakfast consisted of a bowl of warm oatmeal with a side of yogurt.  To be honest, I really don’t like oatmeal.  I’ve tried numerous times to ‘dress it up’ by adding dried fruit, applesauce, nuts, fresh fruit, etc…the oatmeal itself is really boring!

So, may I introduce my newfound breakfast favorite…MUESLI!  I simply can’t get enough of it.  For some reason the combination of oats, whole grains, dried fruits and super foods drenched with cold milk tastes a whole lot better than a bowl of warm oatmeal.  While eating muesli, you have to slowly chew and in return you’re able to individually identify and savor each ingredient’s texture and flavor.  It’s a more meaningful, thoughtful eating experience than the process of quickly downing a bowl of warm, squishy, sticky oatmeal where everything is cooked together in one big muddled mess of bland flavors.

I’m not alone in my passion for muesli.  Just walk down the cereal isle in any Swedish grocery store and you will find that the muesli selection far outweighs other crunchy, artificially flavored, sugary breakfast concoctions, disguised as a ‘healthy’ breakfast alternatives .   Additionally, you can quickly select the healthiest muesli by looking for a green keyhole symbol on the label which means that it meets certain health standards according to Livsmedelsverket (Sweden’s National Food Agency).

You’ll probably have to try a few different muesli brands and flavors before you find THE ONE!  It’s like dating!  So once you’ve met your match, try it with milk, milk alternatives, yogurt or just simply plain.  You can also mix your own muesli by selecting a variety of ingredients at the bulk foods section in the store.  So, go wild and go get some marvelous muesli!