As a general rule, I truly enjoy indulging in the Swedish food, drink and holiday traditions. This time of year, it’s traditional to eat semla – a pastry that looks like a hamburger bun dusted with powdered sugar but with the cream stuffed in the middle instead of meat. In reality, a semla is a cardamom-spiced wheat bun that’s split in half and then has the insides scooped out to make room for a mound of almond paste and whipped cream. Every bakery, grocery and convenience store carries semla and newspaper editors host regular taste tastes and give their opinions about who makes the best pastry. And on top of this, everyone seems to love them and consume them in copious quantities. It’s a national pastime of sorts. Most offices serve them up to employees on Fat Tuesday and everyone joins in to eat them together. Except for me. I just don’t like the cardamom/what bun combination. Mostly, I have to admit that I don’t like the cardamom. I do like the almond paste, but it’s not enough to carry me through eating the whole pastry.
Even so, I make myself eat one of these concoctions every year. Since I was in Australia on Fat Tuesday and during the following days of Lent, I have not been subjected to eating a semla yet. But I am sure I will have to before Easter, at which point the bakeries stop making them until next year. It’s a tradition, after all. Maybe Sweden has rubbed off on me more than I realize.