Out and about on a day of shopping for my first gumbo in Sweden, which affords a moment to celebrate living in such a cosmopolitan, community-friendly city as Stockholm. For instance, I’ve found public transportation in the Greater Stockholm area affordable, clean, efficient, quick and yes, multicultural. I pay two hundred and fifty dollars for a three month pass allowing me unlimited travel on bus, subway and train across Stockholm and beyond; I just walk, swipe card, sit, and listen to Jorge Luis Borges‘ The Garden of Forking Paths as I’m transported through space and time; then disembark, walk, and fly again above ground or underground. All of this with people of many different nationalities as we go about our business without getting in each other’s faces about why guns don’t kill, evils of socialism, building walls, conspiratorial plots of Hillary Clinton, lawn rakes for forests, or how Sandy Hook never happened; without never-ending traffic on I-45, without road rage, without paying for a car, car insurance, car upkeep and gasoline. Imagine. I step off the train at Östermalmstorg and walk to the left a few steps into Östermalmshallen to shop.
Food hall. Like a longboat-style, Great Hall in Beowulf, wonders abound within these walls. Shrimp and sausage call to me as I walk past a diverse range of food offerings, each shop competing with the other for my attention–duck, grouse, pheasant, deer, elk, hummus, tabouli, falafel, chocolate truffles, hazelnut pralines, mussels, clams, lobsters, salmon, herring, brie, capri elle, västerbotten, limes, jerusalem artichokes, pomegranates, sweet chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, blood bread, porkbrawn, juice, smoothies, smørrebrød, cinnamon rolls, espresso, gelato, champagne, calvados, côtes-du-rhône, beetroot loaf, prawn salad with wheat berries. A cornucopia to settle Grendel’s stomach! At Lisa Elmqvist I purchase a half-kilo of shrimp.
Lovely, now it’s on to chorizo at Willy Ohlsson Eftr. So mush sausage available, I consider blood and wild sausage, yet consider a more Gulf Coast choice in my cased meat. With choices made and food in bag, I step out into November light then quickly descend back into the earth for my return journey to Nacka.
Back on November 14th I travel by public transportation to a suburb of Stockholm with my wife Gabriela, Swedish Citizen as well as Brazilian citizen–imagine–in order to apply for my resident card with the Swedish Migration Agency. Surrounded by many nationalities, many colors, many accents, an Australian behind us strikes up a conversation and turns out he’s moving to Sweden to be with his Swedish girlfriend, who just spent a few years with him in Australia. I understand love and immigration as the woman I fell in love with seventeen years ago brought me to the land of candles and reindeer. Love moves us across borders. Meanwhile, the process becomes quite clear, my code entered I wait for my number to appear on a screen, and when it does we walk to a window where an engaging Swede processes my information, and ten minutes later we walk out. No no-go zones, no riots, no anarchy, just a hundred faces looking for home in a country offering a practical, stable life. Civility and Community rather than rule by nationalist ideologies.
Time to cook. Yesterday I roasted chicken and then put the bones in a pot with bits and ends of onion, garlic, bay leaves, assorted greens, so today I add a few celery stalks and tops of greed, red and yellow peppers. With a quick twist shrimp heads fall off and then when gathered, swim in the pot. Time to let time and heat accomplish their magic. Also, a good time to look over past posts featuring Gumbo, Creole Cuisine, Gullah Cuisine, browning butter, Zydeco, while following the words of Marcus Aurelius and being cosmopolitan.
Which reminds me, music must fill the hus while pots bubble, so with a quick swipe and press, Chopin’s Waltzes played with alacrity by Kocsis Zoltán dance across the now strained and dark bog of my stock.
Oh my this bog does bubble and foam.
On to my favorite moment cooing gumbo, the browning of the butter. So many gumbo recipes and traditions, so many cooking techniques and ingredients from Southern France, West Africa and the Carolinas, Gulf Coast and Caribbean.
Butter and whole wheat flour resulting in milk chocolate color and smoky, creamy aroma. Time to add the onions.
Let them soften, let them brown, slowly caramelizing and now cut celery and peppers.
Slice chorizo, add, stir.
Pour in stock and let simmer away for hours, and then before serving add those lovely shrimp bodies allowing them to whiten and curl.
Ah, the plating and moving out of the yellow light over the kitchen stove and into the good natural light flowing in our front windows.
And a top of fresh cilantro leaves growing green in our window box.
A international dish in an international city. Crossing borders delights all the senses. Bon Appétit!