By Diane Ako
It's that time of year again, when birds fly south for the winter, bears hibernate, and Danes flee to tropical destinations. Yes, my in laws and my friend/former housemate all coincidentally arrived at my house on the same day!
I had so many Danes entering my domain all at once, I felt like Sweden circa 1600.
What does living with Danes look like? Well, for one, there is a lot of alcohol in the house. A LOT. It makes a newsroom look like the Bible Belt on Sunday.
There's also a constant supply of, or search for, that super hard, dark bread called rugbrød. It looks like a brown brick. I'm not used to it, but they die for it.
Once, Jul went to the mainland and got a bunch of cartons of multigrain bread baking mix - BRÖDMIX FLERKORN- at Ikea. It's Swedish, but it's as close as they can get.
Then he and my mother in law kind of fought over the last one. She thought he wasn't baking the breads fast enough, so she wanted to bake the last packet and they had words.
I like that they always bring my favorite Danish candy, Anthon Berg marzipans.
Did I mention the alcohol?
In return, we try to Dane-up the house a little bit. My mother in law embroidered a gift calendar a long time ago, and it's my daughter-in-law obligation to get that thing out where she can see we're using and appreciating it.
Every gift she's ever given us gets rearranged, dusted, and placed in a prominent position. Family portrait shoots are scheduled.
The in laws are here for nearly seven weeks. Jul and his girlfriend have come and gone already.
It's always a little bit of a cultural exchange when they come. Most of the talking occurs at the dinner table, and on this visit so far, I've learned the Danes consider Germany the Costco of Western Europe. My in laws drive to Germany for good prices on alcohol and other things and go back home with a full carload.
I've accidentally taught them about banana bread. It never occurred to me that banana bread is not known throughout the Western world, but when I mentioned it, they asked, "What do you do with the bananas and the bread? Is it sliced and on top the bread?" Which I thought was logical and cute, but it still kind of blows me away that banana bread is so uniquely American.
They've also unintentionally given me my new favorite substitute curse word: frikadeller. It's actually Danish meatballs, and my mother-in-law's best dish, but it's just so angry sounding to my American ears. I think I can use that right along with mother... of pearl.
Do you have foreign house visitors and what do you learn from them?