It's been rather long since I blogged last time. Why? Because I wanted to only blog again when I have something meaningful to talk about, like bad customer service, retarded rules and regulations or other shortcomings of my Swedish host country. I did however not buy any couches or try to pick up packages with a German passport lately, so the Swedes just haven't been irritating enough to complain about. But then today, when I was sitting in my kitchen, eating half a loaf of bread for dinner and philosophizing about how awesome carbs are, I suddenly realized that there is something I have to write about: BREAD. But this post is not only a declaration of my love for carbs. My mission is bigger. With this blog entry I would like to recover the reputation of my beloved bread in carb-hating Scandinavia.
There are a few things you should not do in Sweden. Entering an apartment with your shoes on, trying to chat to strangers or standing in line without picking a number are all no good. But all these mishaps are nothing compared to the biggest taboo of them all: Eating carbs. That is a real no-go in modern Scandinavian society.
Overweight, headaches, dry nails, crying babies, flat tires - carbs can be blamed for nearly everything in the land of Ikea and Volvo. Bloggers write endless texts about the evilness of pasta while supermarkets substitute regular flour with almond and coco versions. Housewives bake "carb-free" bread made of cottage cheese and nuts. All in all, carb consumption is looked down upon. It has actually gotten so bad, I almost feel ashamed eating carbs in public. When I get caught with 3 potatoes as part of my lunch at work, I push them to the corner of my plate and pretend that they are not mine. And when I eat my occassional pretzel, I prefer to stay at my desk to avoid humilating comments. If this mad carb-hunt will continue, I will probably end up eating my sandwich in the office in secret, locked up in the bathroom.
I have to confess: There was a time when I was close to giving in. With an omnipresent bad-mouthing of carbs, I started wondering if bread maybe really was evil after all. It went so far that I decided to try out a week without carbs. Now you might wonder how did that go? Well, it lasted exactly until I tried to have breakfast on the first day. Sure, no bread, fine. And no müsli. And no cereals. And no porridge. WELL WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO EAT? The Internet anti-carb community suggested eggs, bacon and pancakes made of banana and peanutbutter (!!!). Yeah right. So my Lchf experience lasted exactly 2 hours.
The author on several private occassions posing with bread.
For me as a German the Scandinavian fear of carbs in general and bread in particular is very hard to understand. Germans have a rather relaxed relationship with bread. Or maybe better: We adore it. We have bakeries everywhere, are famous for our baking and we love to eat bread. So why do Germans indulge in bread while Swedes demonize it? The reason is simple: Swedish bread with its mushy texture and syryp components is inedible. If there was only Swedish bread in the world, I wouldn't eat bread either. But German bread: Awesome. You cannot not eat it. It is too good.
Now you might wonder: But how come Germany managed to develop the best bread in the world, while some hundred kilometres up north the best thing the Swedes could come up with was Knäckebröd? To understand this, we have to look at the historic background of Sweden.
The first recorded carb-related activity in Sweden took place around 500 years ago, when the Swedish aborigines came up with their own joyless version of the concept bread - Knäckebröd. Knäckebröd became (for whatever reason) popular very fast and was soon baked pan-Sweden, until 300 years later the supply of grain and wheat came to a sudden stop during the infamous famine that made many Swedes leave the country and head to America in search of a better life (official version) / better bread (real motives). Once grain and wheat started to grow again, the few Swedes that were left in the country decided to celebrate this by producing a new and softer type of bread. And because they had been hungry for so long, they went a little overboard and threw in sugar as well. And syryp. And probably also honey, sugar powder and sugar beets.
The result is well-dreaded by all Germans that live in Sweden. Mushy sweet bread that comes in many different colours and has many different names, but can be summed up by one word: disgusting. Most Germans rely on imports from Germany or bake bread themselves to get by, but I can tell you, it is not easy. There have been times where the desire for bread was so strong that I actually bought Swedish "bread" and somehow even managed to eat it. Luckily I have a Swedish boyfriend who is slowly learning the art of German bread baking, so soon I will be self-sufficient. But since the future of carb-eating is so uncertain here in Sweden I cannot help but worry. When will carb-consumption in public be forbidden? Will the Swedes start a Systembolaget for bread? And what will be the required age to shop in a Carb-bolaget?
There is hope though. Most of the bread-haters follow a diet rich in meat and fat instead. They substitute pasta and potatoes with steak, butter, cream and cheese - all great components for heart attacks. So it might happen that in 5 or 10 years time the first no-carb generation actually eliminates itself. Just saying.