30 August 2011

the gamble

Although it seems like much longer, I arrived in Stockholm about three days ago. With delay after delay, I thought that this arduous journey could not get any worse, until all of my frustration culminated in the loss of all my luggage. Needless to say, it sucked balls. What’s important now is that I’m here and happy.

Now that the obligatory introduction to a new locale has been completed, I can move on to the point of this post.

I am not the gambling type. Considering my track record, I think it would probably be better to bet against me. But taking gambling advice from me would be a bad idea.

Living in Sweden requires me to take huge risks. Before you groan about a stereotypical inspirational blather about being open-minded and proactive to make friends and learn about the culture, know this. I am talking about something with way higher stakes: food.

I went grocery shopping for the first time yesterday, and was immediately overwhelmed by how little Swedish I knew. Sure, the pictures on the labels were semi-helpful, but at the end of the day I just wanted everything to be simple. Is it so terrible to want to buy a bottle of still water with the confidence that it won’t be sparkling? Is it so wrong to want to take a sip of juice with the confidence that it is, in fact, juice? Am I so unreasonable to want to know what granola package contains straight up granola?

I really hope that these are strawberry/raspberry yogurt and crackers. We’ll see.

But that isn’t even the biggest fear I have with food.

Once, I went to a bakery and ordered a chocolate croissant, mouth watering at the thought of its potential for deliciousness. However, the universe had something different in mind. When I took my first bite, I was bombarded with ham (which I detest) and cheese (which is actually okay). Maybe the ham and cheese croissant wasn’t terrible, but since my mindset was fixed on the notion of chocolate, the incongruity between my expectations and reality was jarring.

In other words, this.

Back to Stockholm.

I was ready to buy milk, but remembered someone mentioning that sour cream is often in a nearly identical package to that of milk. The labels even resemble each other.

Sure I can navigate the Tunnelbana (Stockholm subway system) and find my way around Gamla Stan (Old Town Stockholm) without any trouble. But read and make a decision? Preposterous.

Can you imagine pouring sour cream over some cereal? Unfortunately, I can, and far too vividly. I left the store without milk today. If I muster up the courage, there may be some in my future. But yesterday? I made a safe bet.


Niñaliv said...

Cow milk only is: komjölk bara :) If it was me I would write it on an index card and laminate it and take it with me whenever I would go grocery shopping. Then I would laminate a Swedish raisin to mail to Marga later. I hope you find milk soon but I realized maybe finding cereal might be the bigger challenge. You might end up with ham and cheese puffs rather than Sweden's version of cocoa puffs. I would label that discovery as "the disappointment"

Cynthia said...

when you visit Gamla Stan Stockhom, visit the store Kerstin Adolphson, for swedish clogs. one of the sales ladies travels to the phil for scuba diving every year for 3 months. also, if you decide to get a pair of clogs, try them on really well so that it fits right. suggest probably a size bigger.

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