In the days when my eldest daughter was a Norwegian child, there was usually a bolle lurking somewhere in my bag, ready to curb hunger pangs on days out.
For my youngest daughter, born in Australia, her first tastes menu included bite sized pieces of Vegemite sandwich.
Now that they are all experiencing a Swiss childhood their favourites are changing again and they will not consider anything but a Bratwurst for a school trip, safe in the knowledge that a fire will be lit and sticks sharpened to cook it.
I wonder what foods will evoke the nostalgia of childhood for them in the years to come. There are tins of beans in the cupboard and a jar of Vegemite in the fridge to try and keep a link to the foods they once thought of as normal.
Tonight I’m making boller, typical Norwegian cardamom buns, for school snacks. There are fancier variants – my kids are divided between skoleboller, with custard in the middle and coconut sprinkled on top, and skillingsboller, with cinnamon and sugar. Sometimes though, simple is best.
We recently returned from a trip to Bergen, the city where my overseas adventures began. I got to try out my Norwegian after seven years of being away. First stop was a cafe, which should have been easy, just one sentence and my motivation was high. What came out of my mouth however was a random collection of words, finished off with bitte, the lack of a Norwegian word for please notable once more.
It doesn’t seem like too long ago that I arrived one day and moved into a tiny apartment in a white wooden house, on a street that is often seen on postcards. The first home that The Norwegian and me would share. But thinking about it, and hearing the footsteps of three children trailing behind, it was quite a while ago.
Enough years ago that mobile phones were huge and the Internet made a funny noise when it was connecting. Back then discussions about what a word meant could go on for ages. Once, The Norwegian pointed at the corner of his mouth and enquired what the English word for it was. I shrugged, I’m not sure I’d ever thought about it before, and replied that it was the corner of the mouth. He wasn’t convinced though, insisting there must be a special word, because the Norwegians had one, munnvik. It turns out though, that for all the rich vocabulary in the English language, that bit of anatomy got overlooked somewhere along the way.
On one of our previous Norway trips I was called upon to make a pavlova. My list of ingredients included caster sugar. There were puzzled expressions as I explained that it was finer than normal sugar, but not as fine as icing sugar. The shoppers left looking skeptical. Later, I had one of those moments of joy when they presented me with a bag of engelsk sukker. Just what I needed, and affirmation that I wasn’t so strange after all. So with my English sugar I went about making an Aussie pav in Norway, my take on fusion cooking.