Neighbourhood weekend walk, Tromsø, Norway

Daylength today on 24 Jan. is about 3:38 hrs. Here, the sun casts a warm glow over the coastline of Tromsø, in Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

Short compilation of video and photos of the day´s walk.

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Zen ensō 2021

New Year´s 2021 along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2021

In Zen, ensō is a circle that is hand-drawn in minimal uninhibited brushstrokes. The circle can be drawn complete, or incomplete. More important, is that it expresses a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The transition from the last hours of 2020 to the first hours of 2021 in my view, is much like ensō in Time. All things in transition, endings into beginnings.

A medley of moments towards Zen ensō, the tail end of a circle, to begin a new. Moments of New Year´s Eve, weaving into the early hours of New Year´s Day, 2021.

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New Year´s Eve 2021 and dragonfly vision

New Year´s Eve, along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

While humans have a trichromatic vision, seeing colours in combination of red, blue and green because of light-sensitive proteins in our eyes called opsins, the remarkable dragonfly has no fewer than eleven different visual opsins. Some species of dragonflies have 30 visual opsins [1]. Dragonflies and damselflies are colourful, diurnal insects that depend strongly on their keen sense of vision for an array of activities, from catching small prey in the air to forming territories. The compound eyes of dragonflies contain three to five classes of photoreceptors, with distinct spectral sensitivities covering the UV to red spectral range. These photoreceptors combine to produce a mosaic of images for the dragonfly, although how this visual mosaic is integrated in the insect brain remains uncertain.

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Saffranssemla

A saffranssemla. Like a semla, only with saffron added, along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

I did a post-Christmas grocery store run yesterday in Sweden. To my horror, I saw trays of semlor being brought out from the bakery department. I took a double take on the trays, to see they were not actually large cream puffs, because, why not? But, there were no cream puffs. The trays were filled with luscious marzipan and cream filled semlor, headed to the bakery shelves. A lovely sight, but a little early, I thought.

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Långedrag Värdshus, a Christmas table sitting by the sea

At Långedrag Värdshus for a Christmas table sitting, 2020, Swedish west coast.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Julbord 2020, SE.

Långedrags Värdshus is a cozy restaurant by the ocean along the Swedish west coast, neatly tucked away in a corner near the Saltholmen ferry terminal. Saltholmen is the connecting point between mainland Gothenburg and the southern archipelago where we live. So while being proximate to Saltholmen, I think I’ve dined at this restaurant maybe three times in the past twenty years of living in Sweden.

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Sugee cake, Styrsö julbord 2020

The Eurasian sugee cake.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

A short compilation of photos and videos of sugee cake making at Styrsö, Sweden for Christmas 2020.

I learnt to bake semolina cake or sugee cake from my father. I began with cracking of the eggs for him, and separating the egg yolks from the egg whites. No shells or yellows in the whites allowed.

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Janssons frestelse, Mannerström´s Christmas recipe

Traditionally known as a dish for a quick supper fix, Janssons frestelse is a family favourite, and not to be missed at a Swedish Christmas table.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Janssons frestelse, using Leif Mannerström´s Christmas recipe.

One of the first dishes introduced to me when I landed in Sweden is the classic Janssons frestelse. With heavy cream and potatoes with slivers of anchovies, this dish makes a substantial meal for that after party downtime, if you´re still awake.

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Gravad lax, Styrsö julbord 2020

Making gravad lax or cured salmon, is an annual tradition in our household. Salmon in itself is an extremely flavourful fish, the reason for as little herbs and spices used as possible for curing. As with years past, what you´ll need to find is an excellent piece of salmon.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

The Nordic oceans are renowned to produce meaty, flavourful fish such as cod, monkfish, saithe and salmon. These fish are delicious mostly on their own, and need very little herbs and spices to bring out their flavours. I like to pan-fry or lightly grill cod and salmon in a bit of butter, with salt and pepper to taste. But at year´s end, we often go with historical Nordic culinary traditions, where fish and meat are preserved by drying, salting or smoking.

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Styrsö Christmas 2020

Christmas table sitting at home at Styrsö, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

One of the more difficult things to manage is the process of change. For many years (could it have been more than a decade?) from when I was six to sixteen years old, the days of Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day, ran like clockwork routine. Mass at midnight at a designated church on the Eve of Christmas. Relatives, my mother´s side, would visit on the day of Christmas, marked 25th December. And Boxing day would be a round of visiting older relatives on my father´s side. As a child, I would even know what to expect at each relative´s place. A piano performance and Christmas caroling with my Granduncle Oz. At his place, we would always be served tea, and some of his generously proportioned (palm sized) homemade pineapple tarts. The visit to my Grandaunt Ruth would mean I would come home with something from Japan. A short round of gin rummy with my Aunt Mary, saving the real rounds of gin rummy and sherry, for New Year´s Eve when my father´s side, “the Cordeiros”, would gather at my parents´place. And then, as day turned into evening, it would be quieter sessions for Boxing Day, with older aunts and uncles to visit on my mother´s side. There, we would have cashew cookies, peanut cookies and pineapple tarts. We would keep ourselves entertained by peering into aquarium tanks where they kept little rotund goldfish.

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Sjöporten

A little buffet of pepparkakor. At Sjöporten, a restaurant located right next to Erikbergshallen, in the same building as Hotel Villa, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Sjöporten is a small, cozy restaurant located in the building adjacent to the events hall, Erikbergshallen. If you´re coming from Oscarsleden on the side of the city of Gothenburg, you can reach the restaurant by ferry from Klippan Färjeläge to Erikbergs Färjeläge. The ferry ride is about five minutes, and the ferry stop, Erikbergs Färjeläge, lands you at the doorstep of Sjöporten.

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Pineapple tarts and pirate coins Pieces of Eight

Making pineapple tarts in semblance of Spanish ‘Pieces of Eight’ colonial ‘pirate money’ or cob coins, to the value of eight reals, along the west coast of Sweden.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Pineapple tarts, the making.

I last wrote about making pineapple tarts in March 2010. My thoughts then were focused on the method of making pineapple tarts. The open-faced tarts with a cross over the top was something I grew up learning to make in the Eurasian household. As a child, I remember that there were many more rules from my mother about how to make pineapple tarts. It had to be shaped in a certain manner, crossed over the top and pinched over the crosses in a certain manner. I thought these were rules of good, and proper baking. I was never told why we made tarts in the semblance of a coin with a cross on top. I always thought it was a show of kitchen craftsmanship and that you tried to make the tart as pretty as possible.

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The little chocolate shop, Kronhusgården, Göteborg 2020

“Just browsing” is a non-concept in this little chocolate shop, Göteborgs choklad och karamellfabrik. It took discipline to not walk away with half of what was available for sale in this shop, for the home Christmas chocolate basket.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

It was four years ago that I stepped into this little chocolate shop around the corner. I call it “the shop around the corner” because it´s located in a corner of Kronhusgården at Kronhuset in Gothenburg, Sweden. Built between 1643 and 1654, Kronhuset is Gothenburg´s oldest secular building designed by royal architect Simon de la Vallée. This shop has always had an air of magic around it. Small, cozy and candlelit warm, you find your way around it in an instant, marveling at the wonderful sweet creations lining its shop shelves.

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Norsk ribbe and reflections on environment adaptation

Norsk ribbe, oven grilled pork belly with crackling over the top. The signature feature of the Norwegian style grilled pork belly is its thick layer of ultra crispy crackling.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

This festive season, my personal reflections are on questions of personal adaptation to new environments, and new living conditions. Adapting to a new environment and culture can be challenging. In my case, I´ve found myself adapting to being in new places and living conditions elastically, meaning to say, some fittings are easier done in some contexts than others. Taking the example of local food appreciation, it took me several years of living in Sweden before I stopped shopping at local Asian grocery shops. Food is closely connected to personal childhood experiences, the reason why from Proust, madeleines can have their moments that draw you into another world that once was yours. And there were so many petite madeleines that made up my personal Singapore narrative that it would have been a point of decision to live forward. So it took me a few years before I began to genuinely enjoy Nordic foods, from where they were cultivated at local farms, to how they were processed (salting, drying, smoking etc.) and how they were served. So while even some Swedes would disagree with semla hettvägg, I am for one, loving it.

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Saffron brioche

Saffron brioche, a Lussekatter variation.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of brioche to be found in the baked confections section of Swedish grocery shops. These new bakes were certainly Instagram worthy, sitting in neat rows on the display counter. I loved how they looked and most of all, the confectionary section of the shop drew crowds from the dofting aromas of combined caramelized sugar and butter.

Cafés got around into producing brioche bakes too. Popular variations of brioche that can be found in Swedish cafés include kanelbullar brioche, and chocolate pull-apart loaves. Sold on the idea of brioche, one advantage of starting Christmas bakes early is that you get to experiment with variations of recipes and styles to the confection. In this case, my interest for Lussekatter haven´t waned, so I tried a brioche version of these saffron buns.

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A revbensspjäll winter medley

A revbensspjäll winter medley.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Jultide along the Swedish west coast city of Gothenburg is characterized by long winter nights, the warm glow of street lamps over cobbled stone streets and its markets.

From about the second week into December every year, the city comes alive with julbord events or Christmas table sittings. The julbord or Christmas smörgåsbord is something to experience because it contains quintessential Swedish traditional foods that you can try in one sitting. From various flavours of preserved herring, warm prinskorvar snipped at each end to resemble tiny pig trotters, Swedish meatballs served with lingonberry jam, lutfisk served with green peas, winter spices and a copious amount of melted butter, to Ris à la Malta with the hope of finding that one almond in the entire pot for dessert, the julbord is a feast for the palate and a culinary narrative in itself. And yes, I wouldn´t forget, the neat display of double chocolate fudges at the dessert table.

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Nordic julstämning 2020

Nordic julstämning in November, 2020.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

I walked into the stores just about end of October and saw a curious sight of a juxtaposition of Halloween and Christmas decorations. At the meat counters, Christmas sausages and pâte were out for the buying, right after you´ve walked past the large orange pumpkins at the fresh vegetables counter for the Jack-o’-Lantern carvings.

So it seemed a little bit of a close call for festive seasons in the Nordic region when Christmas threatened for a minute or two to swallow up Halloween. But on second thought, in Sleepy Hollow spirit, I don´t think Halloween would mind it at all.

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Pirog

Pirog with a Saison 1858, Brasserie Du Bocq.
Text & Photo © CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

My first encounter with a pirog (a meat filled bun) was in a summer in Sweden at the ferry terminal called Saltholmen. Located along the Swedish west coast, Saltholmen is the gateway terminal to the southern archipelago summer bathing places of Gothenburg. The breezy boat ride, the scenic routes and the occasional street food sellers that bring with them pastries, ice-creams, sweet and savoury buns and summer fruits all make for pleasant trips out to the southern archipelago along the Swedish west coast. Although quieter this year over the summer, there were enough local and international visitors to the southern archipelago for the ferry terminal to set up specific queues for each incoming and outgoing ferry to the islands.

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Autumn ragout, a recipe from the Netherlands

An autumn ragout of veal, puff pastry and roasted vegetable sides.
Text & Photo © JW van Hal, CM Cordeiro & JE Nilsson 2020

Personally, I think it’s fun to share recipes with family and friends, particularly if they live in a different part of the world and have different culinary traditions and heritage. The current global pandemic also seems to have the effect of bringing out that home cook in us. With digital video conferencing tools that enable shared cooking and culinary experiences online, I know of a couple of friends who cook and dine together in the virtual realm in real-time, generally having a good time with interesting conversations.

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Festive egg halves

Egg halves topped with skagenröra, trout roe and dill.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

One of my favourite appetizers is the Swedish style egg halves. I love the festive and luxurious look of them sitting polite and snug on the plate, patiently waiting for you to pick them up and savour them. They are no doubt, a staple at the Swedish julbord (Christmas table), where restaurants and homes will each have their favourite versions.

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Down peanut butter lane

Chocolate peanut butter jelly cocktail, made with juleøl (Norwegian Christmas beer) and cognac.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

There was only ever one time in my life when I was growing up in Singapore that I tried Smucker´s Goober Grape. I often heard of peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwiches from watching Sesame Street as a child, but growing up in Singapore, the school lunch looked rather more like mee siam, fishball noodle soup and chicken rice rather than peanut butter and jam sandwiches. If my mother would pack lunch for me, it would come in a two compartment tupperware. On one side would be a peeled hard boiled egg, and on the other side, some baked beans. My lunchbox content was considered fairly “western” because other mothers would pack fried rice with spam or stir-fried bee hoon with spam for their children in their lunch boxes. I loved my hard boiled egg.

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Black custard, in celebration of Old Halloween

Black custard, topped with crème fraîche.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

I love blood sausages. I was first introduced to blodpudding in Sweden when I moved there in the early 2000s. Blodpudding, also known as black sausage in the UK is a northern England creation that uses the blood of pigs, cows or sheep, combined with suet and grains to make sausages. Blood sausages are some of the oldest forms of sausages. Recipes of how to make them date back to the 1600s, although I would not be surprised if black sausage recipes date further back to the Viking era. Traditionally, black sausages are made and eaten in celebration of Saint Martin´s day or Martinsmas, as well as Old Halloween or Old Hallowmas Eve, celebrated on 11 November each year.

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Autumn equinox barbeque 2020

Autumn equinox BBQ 2020 along the Swedish west coast, Sweden.
Text Photo & Video © D Neikter Nilsson; JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Our family had the most amazing Bistecca alla Fiorentina experience in 2008 when in Florence, Italy, courtesy of a good friend who had recommended and booked a table for us at the restaurant 4Leoni. Located between Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, in one of the historical pizzas of the region´s capital city, Piazza della Passera, the interior of the restaurant is fairly small, but utterly cozy. It was a double birthday celebration night, and it seemed the full moon was out to greet and celebrate with us in Florence, standing perfectly centre over Ponte Vecchio as we walked by. I remember the food and service at 4Leoni to have been excellent. Our steak arrived grilled to perfection, carved and served with skilled hands. The recommended accompanying wine was just heavenly.

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Weekend breakfast at RISØ, Tromsø, Norway

Weekend sunshine with RISØ´s CEO Arne Risø Nilsen. Arne is co-founder and co-owner RISØ, a café and coffee bar that serves some of Tromsø´s best coffee brews.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

As the weekend rolls around, morning coffee and breakfast at a local café in Tromsø is something to look forward to. It´s pretty much autumn here in the Arctic, where you can typically get a string of grey and rainy days. Depending on personality, I think rainy autumn days are perfect to grab that mug of hot chocolate, cozy under your blanket with your favourite book and read. As it happened, it was a weekend of brilliant weather with sunshine and clear skies. Which meant, a café breakfast morning.

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Pickled cucumber Swedish style 2020

The Swedish Västeråsgurka is a late summer harvest. Often turned into a delicious pickle for sandwiches, we hope this year´s harvest will make enough jars to find their way to the Christmas table.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

It´s rewarding to see your spring planting efforts bloom and fruit. This year´s growing was alright. There was a short strawberry season, literally lasting about a month when we could get strawberries from the garden. But the tomatoes and Västeråsgurka (a variety of cucumbers known to grow in Västerås, Sweden) are still growing, and we get small harvests now and again.

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Summer BBQ, Styrsö, Sweden 2020

Fava bean burger with ketchup, tzatziki and mayonnaise, Styrsö, Sweden.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Swedish summers are marked by numerous BBQ-parties. Sometimes, it can feel as if you´re in an implicit neighbourhood race to fill the air with the aromas of BBQ grilled foods. I was in fact, introduced to the Swedish BBQ-party on my very first trip to Sweden when I was still in my university days. It was mid-May and a warm 10 degress celcius outdoors. I met with a group of young men with beer in hand. They lounged in nothing but shorts in beach chairs pulled up close to the smoking BBQ pit. I wore an orange knitted turtleneck sweater and thought I should really have brought a light jacket with me. I was promptly introduced to the group of BBQ party-goers, some of whom looked at me as if they had questions to ask. My introduction was then followed by “she´s from Singapore”, to which there was an acknowledged round of nods. Even if the smell of meat on the BBQ grill was fantastic, after ten minutes, I politely asked if I could go indoors to warm my hands on the oven stove.

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Black turtle beans with Herbs de Provence marinara sauce

Black turtle beans or svarta böner as they are known in Sweden, baked in the shape of spheres, served atop fresh tagliatelle. The baked black turtle beans are smothered in a marinara sauce infused with Herbs de Provence and parmesan. The delicate green leaf-stems on top of the dish is Olivenurt (Santolina Viridis). This herb is native to the Mediterranean and in this case, was imported from a cultivator from Denmark. It is highly aromatic of olives and popular uses include pasta, pizza, salads, meat / fish cooking.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

An pan (Japanese red bean bun), Dou Sha Bao (Chinese sweet, steamed, red bean buns), Penang Tau Sar Piah made with savoury green bean filling and Ling Yong Bao (sweet lotus seed paste steamed buns) are some identifiable warm aromas of the Singapore morning hawker centres, usually located adjacent to wet markets. These sweet and savoury food items were also some of my early childhood favourite eats.

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A walk around Marstrand island, Sweden

Onboard a ferry, going across to Marstrand island, Marstrand harbour, Sweden. The ferry ride is about 5 minutes, crossing the channel.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

The high cirrus clouds signalled fair weather for the day and it looked perfect for a drive up along the Swedish west coast. We headed for Marstrand, a pearl of an island for summer visits located in the Kungälv Municipality of Sweden. This island is a well loved tourist destination. We too, love this place and this day’s drive would be the second sweep around Marstrand to see if we would make it out to Marstrand island this summer.

Under the global circumstances of uncertain international travel and increased domestic travel in 2020, an indication that it was a good day to hop across to Marstrand island was the short and quick moving queue of people waiting to board the ferry. There are 2 ferries that run consecutively, which allows for fewer passengers onboard, without the sacrifice of travel time to Marstrand island. In the summer of last year, the ferry queue snaked around the ticketing house and up into the lanes where the nearest grocery store is located. On this visit, the ferry queue was short, going about less than 20m from ferry terminal to where the fruit stand was located. For sale at the fruit stand were locally grown, organic strawberries. Lovely and delicious reds in boxes if you wanted to bring some with you to Marstrand island.

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Sinnenas Trädgård, Marstrand, Sweden

At Sinnenas Trädgård, Marstrand, Sweden.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

After completing the morning’s errands of some grocery shopping, the brilliant Swedish west coast weather beckoned us in taking a slightly longer drive up the length of the coast. We decided to head to Marstrand, which was a comfortable distance from our grocery shopping place of the day. Driving up into the roundabout of the ferry terminal to Marstrand, we noted that it was not overly crowded. Perfect indication to buy two ferry tickets to cross over to Marstrand.

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Kungälvs Havsdelikatesser, Kongahälla Shopping Center, Swedish west coast 2020

Shrimp, salmon and cheese salad at Kungälvs Havsdelikatesser, Kungälv, Swedish west coast.
Text Photo & Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Although culinarily fairly homogeneous (take for example, varieties of preserved herring and boiled potatoes and/or meatballs with lingonberry jam), the food in Sweden does carry regional variations and characteristics. Seafood and fish tend to distinctly characterise west coast Swedish regional food, not only in terms of the variety of food types but how they are prepared, plated and eaten.

There is little chance at getting bored with the vareity of pescatarian food creations in the Swedish west coast region. This year’s new find is Kungälvsröra and the Kungälvsbakelse from Kungälvs Havsdelikatesser. Kungälvsröra is a creamy mixture of shrimp and mayonnaise with red onion and dill. Kungälvsbakelse, is Kungälvsröra served on top of seeded dark rye bread and topped with savoury lemon gel. These delicious mirror glazed lemony confections are sold in neat squares that on quick glance over the counter, resemble a sweet lemon curd dessert.

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Styrsö Bratten, Styrsö, Sweden

Text & Photo / Video © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

A morning view from a ferry from Styrsö Bratten. Styrsö is a southern archipelago island to the city of Gothenburg, located along the Swedish west coast with about 1400 inhabitants. The island has several popular summer bathing spots that include Uttervik (north-west of Styrsö), Sandvik (north) and small sandy beach pockets right at Styrsö Bratten (north-east of Styrsö) where the boats dock.

Tjörn and Restaurang Tjörnbron, Sweden

Along the Swedish west coast across the islands of Tjörn and Orust, Sweden, Summer 2020.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

If you take the E6 expressway from the city of Gothenburg by car, you’ll get to the islands of Tjörn and Orust in about 45 mins. The twin islands are perfectly charming places to visit particularly during the summer months, with many antique shops for browing, and cafés to serve as rest stops.

It was just about lunch time when we drove across the Tjörn bridge, so we thought to try lunch at Restaurang Tjörnbron. Known for its excellent menu and friendly service, Restaurang Tjörnbron is located at one of west coast Sweden’s most scenic spots, at the top of a lookout point into the waters of Tjörn, right at the corner of the bridge.

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Creel caught Scampi (Langoustine): A Swedish west coast delicacy

Scampi (Nephrops norvegicus) is a stable population European crustacean that live primarily in the Nordic oceans. Differing from sweet water crayfishes, this crustacean is available all year round only depending on demand and weather. These scampi are KRAV-certified [1]. KRAV is a sustainability standard for the labelling of fish that has been farmed / harvested ecologically in Sweden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

While food quality has always been a topic of discussion, food sustainability has in the past decades become a subject of increasing interest for consumers [2-4]. Consumers today are more educated on food ecology and the impact of food production on the environment and climate. They often inquire at the shops after product origin and methods of harvest / farming. They also want to know about plant (how much use of pesticides?) and animal (how humane were the animals treated?) welfare. In the Nordic countries, even prior to Covid-19 travel and trade restrictions, short food supply chains (SFSC) were in the early 2000s, being discussed and implemented as means to sustainable food consumption and food safety [5]. In Sweden, “närodlat” (regionally produced) and in Norway, “kortreist” are selling arguments that allow for agri-products and food services to command higher prices.

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Midsummer’s reflections 2020

Pickings from the garden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

On Saturday, 20 June 2020, Sweden celebrated Midsummer’s Day. A celebration that traditionally coincides with the summer solstice. Usually the inevitable – How’s your Midsummer this year? question, would be answered with the similarly inevitable reply; – As usual. Plus 10 degrees, and rain. – Ah, same as New Year’s eve then, – Yep.

It might sound sarcastic but really, I can’t think of a sunny Midsummer’s Day since I first landed in Sweden in 2002. I remember when I first landed that I wrote home to my parents and told, “Sweden got only two seasons leh”. They had winter, which was cold and wet, with possibility of some snow, and summer, which was cold and wet, with no snow. This year was certainly different. There’s been as much sun as you could wish for, in Sweden. I can only assume that this, in some kind of quantum entanglement of weather, is dependent on me having relocated to Tromsø, the very arctic part of Norway. Living in Tromsø by the way, has given me a completely new understanding of winter, and summer. Tromsø also has only two seasons. Winter, without daylight, and summer, with daylight. Endless dayligt. Sunrise in February and sunset basically in November. This said, to be fair to Sweden, I have over the years managed to get some nice midsummer pictures in my album labelled “Sweden”.

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Midnight sun, Tromsø, Northern Norway

This was filmed at ca. 0130 in the morning. Tromsø coast, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

“It must be so romantic, to experience the Arctic midnight sun!” She said.
“Yes, it is.” the Other She replied. “But you can´t sleep either.”

The prosaic quips above reflect but only a partial reality of what I find unique about living in this compact Arctic city of Tromsø in Northern Norway.

Special on this part of the globe is the shifting polar light from spring/summer to autumn/winter. Most travel brochures speak of the spectacular Northern Lights that appear when the skies darken over the winter months, and when the sun hardly rises above the horizon. At this time of year however, it is the opposite. The sun hardly ever sets. From 18 May to 25 July 2020, the sun does not go below horizon in Tromsø. The midnight sun is not much advertised in travel brochures as an experience to be lived for long because for those who are sunlight sensitive with functioning circadian rhythms, this might mean a whole lot of lack of sleep days. It is not unusual to observe nightlong parties and people out on the streets of Tromsø at 0200 hrs, as if it were late afternoon in southern Europe.

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20200523 Weekend walk along Tromsø coast, Northern Norway

Outdoor gym and meeting seagulls on a weekend walk along Tromsø coast, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

It´s been some frustrating weeks for everyone with the current global health pandemic that has led to disrupted lifestyles and socioeconomic consequences. In Northern Norway, society is cautiously opening.

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Telegrafbukta, Tromsø, Northern Norway

Telegrafbukta / Telegraph Bay, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Telegrafbukta was one of the first places I visited when I landed in Tromsø. Known as Northern Norway´s Gran Canaria, Telegrafbukta is the choice location of the annual Tromsø Bay Festival, one of Northern Norway´s most popular music festivals. It has also been the case that every time it´s been decided to gather at Telegrafbukta, the weather decided otherwise. Windy and icy-cold, it gets difficult to hold a coherent conversation when your teeth literally chatter.

Short walk by the beach at Telegrafbukta. Beautiful when warm, but when it gets clouded over and it´s windy, it is cold.

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Lapis lazuli to steel grey, Tromsø, Northern Norway

Spring in Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

When I moved to Tromsø just over a year ago, it challenged the notion I had that tropical Singapore was the only place where you could have rain in your backyard and sunshine in your front yard. This Arctic island city has minute shifting weather. Clear blue skies one minute and in another, clouded over, threatening ice-cold rain against a background of steel grey.

But I´ll take the moments in time. It´s spring. The lapis lazuli of the ocean hypnotizes.

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20200413 April snow, Tromsø, Northern Norway

In April snow, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

From the pages of Ken Wilber´s One Taste [1]:

“As the Witness, I-I do not move through time, time moves through me. Just as clouds float through the sky, time floats through the open space of my primordial awareness, and I-I remain untouched by time and space and their complaints. Eternity does not mean living forever in time—a rather horrible notion—but living in the timeless moment, prior to time and its turmoils altogether. Likewise, infinity does not mean a really big space, it means completely spaceless. As the Witness, I-I am spaceless; as the Witness, I-I am timeless. I-I live in eternity and inhabit infinity, simply because the Witness is free of time and space. And that is why I can drink vodka in New York and get drunk in L.A.

So this morning I went jogging, and nothing moved at all, except the scenery in the movie of my life. (p.68)

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Hemgjord leverpastej and pâté de campagne

A Swedish hemgjord leverpastej [1] is a rich spreadable pâté that complements most festive tables in Sweden from Christmas to Easter. Here, it´s served with cumberland sauce and French cornichons.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

In the midst of my 2019 Christmas marketing in Gothenburg city´s oldest market place, Saluhallen, I picked up by chance, the most wonderful rustic/country pâté made with the livers of duck, chicken and pork. The terrine that sat on the market counter simply read “3 Confit – Duck, Chicken, Pork” and it looked like a fine spreadable pâté. We bought some, took it home for our Christmas table and it was such a treat that I went back to Saluhallen, determined to wrap some to bring with me to Northern Norway for after the New Year´s. But there was none to be had, with the reason given by the charcuterie, “That is a very special dish, we only order it for Christmas.”

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Marina in early April 2020, Tromsø, Northern Norway

April weather in the Arctic. Snow dusted over a thin layer of ice in this marina along the coast of Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

Different from the Swedish west coast marinas and Tromsø marinas is how the boats remain moored through the winter season. On my walk this morning, I found several people tending to their boats, doing spring cleaning of sorts on the inside. Temperature outdoors this day is around -3°C with alternating snow and sunshine. Along the Swedish west coast, no one would consider tending to their boats if temperatures were in the minus outdoors.

Thursday, 19 March 2020 marked the spring/vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere. In Tromsø, you can feel daylight stretching to cover more hours over the day. There´s still snow outside but there´s much more sunlight too, which cheers people up some. I wonder if the neighbour´s heavy dragging of metal over the balcony floors meant they were readying the barbeque grills for the summer? Here in the Arctic, seasons don´t really languidly morph from one to another. Overly long winters means that summer rather rushes up at you as a concrete floor to your face when you´re in free fall, so best to bring out those summer things already now.

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20200328 A different bruktbokhandel in Tromsø, Northern Norway

A Saturday used books haul, Tromsø, Northern Norway.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2020

In the past week, I´ve returned to reading some of Ken Wilber´s works that appear in scientific journal articles. In particular, my favourite paragraph thus far is from an article of his that appeared in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology in 1982, when Wilber unpacks structural analysis and deep structure in cognitive development:

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