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February in Sweden: No sex please, we're cold

February in Sweden: No sex please, we're cold

Published: 04 Feb 2010 15:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Feb 2010 15:59 GMT+01:00

The Year in Sweden - February: Journalist Kim Loughran sketches a month by month account of the country he has called home ever since his accidental migration in 1966.

If November is the month when the fewest children are born, that would make February the least erotic month. Urban legend has it that most Swedish babies are born nine months to the day after the feelgood festival of Midsummer Eve, when cavorting is on everyone’s mind. But February can be cold and gloomy and if sex represents comfort as well as fun, surely now would be a perfect time?

How sex-fixated are Swedes? Most of them will tell you: lagom. It means ‘sufficiently’ and the word carries a connotation of good judgment. The New York Times has said that the roots of sexual liberation in Scandinavia are the state-sponsored social movements for women’s rights, sex education and health care, plus freedom of expression. Various forms of feminism have been an ingrained part of Swedish culture since Viking times. The modern incarnation is less concerned with sexuality than boosting healthy families.

For those too young to agonise over sex, February brings sports week, a break from school and a last chance to go skiing. The vacation period is staggered so the popular ski resorts are not gridlocked. At this stage of the winter, daylight is coming back and temperatures are milder than just a month ago, although there’s still plenty of snow.

Awaiting the short growing season, shoppers are still dependent on produce from hothouses in Holland and Spain or freeze-shipped from Thailand, Kenya or Brazil. But home-grown veggies are never forgotten and a seasonal favourite is mashed turnips and boiled pork sausage with lashings of mustard. This is a foodie nation, with more cookbooks published per capita than in any other country.

It’s cold enough now to quieten even the Lebanese and Syrian sellers at outdoor market stalls. In other weather, Stockholm’s fruit and vegetable markets are cacophonous with shouted bargains and claims of the sweetest oranges. The spikes for Swedish immigration in the last half-century began with an influx of Hungarians following the 1956 uprising, then the exodus of Jews from Poland in 1968, the flight of opposition sympathisers from Chile after Pinochet took power in 1973, the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88, the confusion and carnage in the Horn of Africa in the 1990s and the invasion of Iraq from 2003. Just under half of all asylum requests are granted. More than 13 percent of the country’s inhabitants were born abroad and the influx is making the country more youthful demographically.

Enter the snowdrop (Galántus nivális). What a guy! A graceful white head drooping pensively on a slender neck, battling up through the snow. The six-petalled snowdrop ignores cold, obeying only the primeval call of light.

The Year in Sweden by Kim Loughran is on sale now at the AdLibris online bookstore.

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

01:05 February 5, 2010 by caitlinnor
Where was the discussion about sex in February??
04:01 February 5, 2010 by Twiceshy
Get on a NCL boat in the Caribbean and have fun! So nice. Much more sun and warmth than cold and dark sweden!
07:04 February 5, 2010 by Frattonparker
How can you call Sweden a 'foodie nation'. Thats's ridiculous! They don't have salad cream, custard, proper tea bags, kippers or proper crisps! Lets face it, Sweden in the winter is just dull full stop. Dull, cold, dark, spikey, concrete, gritty, miserable. Bring on the summer!!
11:06 February 5, 2010 by cogito
"Foodie nation"? Huh?

Vegetables in the last stages of decrepitude; gray meat; anorexic chickens....

Have you ever eaten lunch in a Stockholm restaurant? It's either white fish in white sauce or gray meat in brown sauce. A salad is soggy marinated cabbage.

This sounds like propaganda from the Swedish Tourist Board.
11:49 February 5, 2010 by Neuhier
#Cogito, one wonders whether YOU have ever eaten lunch in a Stockholm restaurant, perhaps apart from some ultracheap greasyspoon place. You don't seem to have much of an idea of what you're talking about. #Fratton, what's salad cream? Probably not something civilised eaters would wish to have in their salad. Custard exists. Tea bags exist. Kippers do of course exist, in a fisheaters's nation like this. So what's your problem? Lack of british junk food?
12:49 February 5, 2010 by peropaco
Foodie nation with cream sauce in everything. For a lactose intolerant person, Sweden must be hell. About the article. No sex we are cold. Ummm Thats rather odd. I thought with a little drinking they all engage in sexual activities with perfect strangers after 10 minutes..
13:00 February 5, 2010 by Alannah
What's the connection here between food and sex in February or have I missed something?

Food nation - Smörgasbord made it on to the international culinary list but that's about it. The food's not bad and it's simple but I wouldn't say it's really anything special that stands out. I've never seen a Swedish restaurants anywhere outside of Sweden ... IKEA sells the staples abroad like Knackebröd and Calles Caviar.

A sex nation? Well, that may be the reputation but it takes a couple of liters of alcohol to loosen up first!
18:00 February 5, 2010 by Freja
Ha ha ha....

Only a Brit could refer to the following as food heaven: "salad cream, custard, proper tea bags, kippers or proper crisps!" Good one Fratton!!

Cogito, you are you based at a homeless shelter? "It's either white fish in white sauce or gray meat in brown sauce. A salad is soggy marinated cabbage."

You need to get out, and spend a little bit more than those crappy 10kr McD meals and korvkiosks things you get sto stuff yourself.

Perhaps you two should stock up on some of those facination ready made meals and invest in a micro. That would probably hit your sweet spots.

Stockholm is a great food city for anyone who is into fresh food, and particulary sea food.

But "fresh" is obviuosly not everyone's cuppatea.
19:27 February 5, 2010 by GeeGee
At the English shop in Medborgaplatsen you can get all manner of crisps, Heinz salad cream, and most of the other things you miss

Swedes don't mind what you say about them as long as you say something. Makes them feel more important
09:02 February 6, 2010 by cogito
Oh dear. I seem to have joined the long list of those who have wounded Freja in her patriotism.

To resent criticism of the freshness of food in Sweden is like resenting criticism of Switzerland's seaside resorts.
10:15 February 6, 2010 by belardo
oh come on ! it can't be cold! it is not colder then Canada! it is -40 here! who wanna trade:D ?
11:12 February 6, 2010 by jose_s
sex helps in keeping warm... unless you are sleeping out in the streets or just tired of your partner there is really no reason to blame it on the weather...
13:34 February 6, 2010 by soultraveler3
Lol, there's no way Sweden is a foodie nation!

Sorry but it takes more than lots of cream, boiled potatos, flavorless meatballs and fish in a jar to be that. Add to that the pathetic excuse for fresh veggies and meat and the lack of selection (besides in the fish and cream department) in the stores.

The fancy a.k.a. even more expensive stores in Stockholm are severly lacking when compared with stores of the same caliber in other countries. You shouldn't have to pay so much for such poor quality.

Even the junk food here sucks, the candy is boring, the ice cream is so so and even with a million pizza, burger and kebab places you're hard pressed to find a decent one.

I love Sweden for many reasons, the weather, the outdoors, my wonderful swedish friends etc. but the food is definately not one of them.

What did this article have to do with sex in Feb? Sex is a great way to warm up- :)
23:00 February 6, 2010 by dahaviland
My daughter was born in November which means that obviously some of us have sex in February. But oh yeah... we weren't living here freezing our asses off. She was conceived in sunny warm coastal North Carolina... I think it was around 21 celsius. So maybe there's some truth to this theory, even though I can't of a better way to keep warm.

I love the food in Sweden and every occasion and holiday is centered around some kind of food. Also, fika is the best cultural daily activity that doesn't exist else where as far as I know. It's too bad that you may be having a bad experience with the food culture in Sweden. Maybe you're hanging around the wrong crowd. Or maybe you're sex starved because when you have a good sex life, everything tastes better.

Swedish candy is awesome... especially the salt licorice or Turkish Peber. Coming from the US where there is an over abundance of everything to choose from, Swedish candy is definitely better quality.
07:07 February 7, 2010 by samuel1
Fresh food in Sweden

hahahahahhaaha

Sex in Sweden..............hahahahhaaha

Ignorance is Bliss

Live in the tropics...only then will ur dream get over
09:24 February 7, 2010 by square
Ha try living in Norway, then Sweden seems like Heaven
19:15 February 7, 2010 by James & Judith Wilson
We went to a barbecue and rock night when we were in Trosa two years ago, and the food on offer was fantastic. We also went on a cruise of the archipelago, and while on the boat we had deer (venison) and Västerbotten Pie, which again was delicious. Our friend Hasse made a fantastic concoction every morning for breakfast - yes, it was dairy-based, but it was absolutely wonderful! We're VERY MUCH looking forward to returning very soon! The one thing we didn't really enjoy was Stockholm Cantonese - I'm afraid you need to come to England for the best Euroopean interpretation of Chinese cuisine!
07:21 February 8, 2010 by silly t
sure swedes like and adore sex like i have never seen through out Europe.they are just so cheap when it comes to laying their back down.oshhhhhh
10:28 February 8, 2010 by Freja
Perhaps you are right cogito. But perhaps you're not, again. Perhaps Freja just is finding it curious that the same old commentators spew out their biased, and uniformed, negativity so frequently here. And wonder why? But, hey, people like different things so for the ones that consider "salad cream, custard, proper tea bags, kippers or proper crisps" the highest culinary advancement could listen to you guys. For others lets hear what some other people have to say, as my view is obviously so biased.

Fodor'2:

"Stockholm's restaurant scene rivals that of any major European capital, with upscale restaurants offering creative menus at trendy, modern locations. The best combine foreign innovations with Sweden's high-quality raw ingredients. The city's top restaurants will charge accordingly, but you aren't likely to leave disappointed. Of course, there are also plenty of less expensive restaurants with traditional Swedish cooking. Among Swedish dishes, the best bets are wild game and fish, particularly salmon, and the smorgasbord buffet, which usually offers a good variety at an inexpensive price. Reservations are often necessary on weekends. "

New York Times´cullible and easly please critics comments on Matbaren, a relatively mid-priced place, for example;

"In a city with no shortage of breathtakingly beautiful dining rooms, this Mathias Dahlgren restaurant at the Grand Hotel has raised the bar - the concept of a food bar, that is - to a new level. Though you eat on a tray and the menu includes such classics as deep-fried hake with lemon and tartar sauce, this is no overpriced cafeteria. Designed by Ilse Crawford, it is actually two restaurants - the elegant food bar Matbaren and the even more plush Matsalen, where burnished woods, rich velvets and gleaming brass frame a stunning view of the harbor and provide a perfect setting for Mr. Dahlgren's refined, market-driven menus."
16:46 February 8, 2010 by northerntales
I just have to point out that Turkish Peber is Finnish candy.

And peropaco, what a stupid thing to say.
13:38 February 9, 2010 by cogito
To find the concept of Sweden as "foodie-nation" absurd does not mean there is some vast conspiracy against The Fatherland.

As for quoting travel writers, can it be that you are unaware of how it works?

Restaurants/hotels receive favorable mentions in guidebooks and travel articles in exchange for freebies.

It's called comping. Free meal/free hotel room in exchange for praise.

I'll stick with the vox pop, far more reliable than travel writers.
21:12 February 9, 2010 by Alannah
Swedish food can taste good but it's simple farmer's food, nothing very elaborate and cannot be compared with French, Italian or Japanese food - which you find all over the world. As for service in restaurants etc, I have to say in Scandinavia overall it is quite unprofessional. The sad thing about eating out in Scandinavia is that often the bottle of wine costs more than your entire meal. Or you can opt for a cheap house wine which is still around the same price as your main course and which sells for EUR 3 in an average German supermarket but costs SEK 350.
22:30 February 9, 2010 by telzey
I have to admit Swedish food is very bland and not terribly exciting. The food in the US is just so much better, both in terms of variety (infinite), freshness (we grow it all here) and price. There are lots of reasons to love Sweden, but food isn't one of them.
08:36 February 10, 2010 by Freja
Well, cogito, given your apparantly quite narrow and limited frame of reference of food, given your little 'review' above you certainly doesnt come across as someone who could speak with authority on either food or food critics. Have you ever read, or know anything, about New York Times, for example? No need to answer, its a rethorical question, your installments above gives it away.
12:49 February 10, 2010 by spongepaddy
I agree that the food in Sweden can be very boring. Try ordering something "strong" in an Indian restaurant and you will see what I mean. And even the junk food is meh - pizza or hot-dogs, yum yum.

So lots of reasons to like Sweden, but the food sure isn't the major one.
11:30 February 11, 2010 by cogito
@freja

"Narrow and limited"? Moi?

You're probably right. Compared to you, I certainly am narrow and limited. Since you seem interested what I read: the NY Times or International Herald Tribune, Le Monde, the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, El Pais; then, weekly, The Economist and Le Nouvel Observateur.

My knowledge of food is equally limited, having worked (and lunched) in such provincial cities as London, New York, San Francisco and Paris.

I doubt there is anyone on this forum that comes close to your sophistication and worldliness. We feel your pain at having to deal with us hillbillies.
18:23 February 11, 2010 by dahaviland
I thought this article was about SEX in February... why's everybody talking about food?
11:28 March 28, 2010 by Freja
Well, Cogito, the Guide Michelin inspector disagrees with you. He says about Stockholm:

- Stockholm has become a gastronomic destination

But I'm sure you are better equipped than him, New York Times critics etc.

Interview with Guide Michelin inpector about food/restaurants in Stockholm here:

http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pastan.nu%2Fataute%2Fkrogkommissionen-moter-guide-michelin-i-stockholm-1.1067780&sl=sv&tl=en
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