Pa amb oli

Happiness

Happiness

Pa amb oli. If you say it really fast it sounds like baloney, like the sausage. Yet this Spanish staple is far simpler and has found a far surer place in my heart. Pa amb oli means bread and oil in Mallorquin (Catalan). This simple and delicious treat would not satisfy if it were made with what I often consider suburban staples, in the US. The inexpensive, shelf-stable, bread might crisp if toasted but the chemical preservatives would hide the rich taste of whole grains. The crust of sandwich bread could never imitate the crunch of fresh oven roasted, peasant style loaf bread (sold in Spain by its weight). Canola oil, butter or other cooking oils (inexpensive olive oils included here) can not imitate the rich flavor of good olive oil, nor produce the sweet and salty bites of sea salt sprinkled over the top. These three simple ingredients. Bread. Oil. Salt. So simple and so balanced in their flavors might seam dull to an american palate, which is so often flooded with bold flavors, but it is worth your time. Try. Taste the simplicity. Bread. Oil. Salt. Each ingredient rich in its own right, together create the subtle and tender flavors which are a staple in my diet here. Bread. Oil. Salt. Pa amb oli.

Top ten surprises from Sweden

Dinner with the gang: pan roasted chicken, roasted sweet corn, broccoli, garlic mashed potatoes, fresh bread, fried onions and garlic, local Swedish beer. Yeah we are pretty awesome.

  1. People looked like ME! I was starting to feel comfortable with the fact that everything about Europe was different from me, including how people look. My first day in Sweden I was tempted to point at people and tell my friends “LOOK there’a another one,” every time someone walked past.
  2. Northern Minnesota and the Swedish country side could be twins.
  3. When we got to the airport we had to walk for like 3 min on the tarmac at night. Don’t believe Ryanair when they tell you the airport is in Stockholm.
  4. People kept expecting me to speak Swedish. I don’t, but I realized what it must be like for the people in our group with mediterranean blood who always get mistaken for spaniards.
  5. Halloween partying in Uppsala. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was surprised and had a FABULOUS time dancing the night away in a college town.
  6. 4:30 PM. That is when it got dark in Sweden. It was the closest I have ever been to the arctic circle and you could tell by the way the light changed.
  7. Diego. My uncle Dave’s friend who I had lunch with in Stockholm. He is a Spanish expat and we had an amazing meal and shocked all the swedes by talking loudly in Spanish.
  8. The food. There is not a lot in my diet back home that closely resembles Mallorcan food, the opposite was true in Sweden. Oh and the food was delicious too.
  9. “Family” Dinner. All of my friends and I made a giant dinner together one night. One of my friends even fried onions in butter for the first time in her life.
  10. Sweden. I never expected to see Sweden while I was here. It was beautiful, welcoming, and I LOVED it.