I have been meaning to write about the freezer habits of Swedes for a while, and then Marianne in Cairo wrote [in Swedish] about their big shopping spree and filling up the freezer, so here are my thoughts on freezers and food storage – a fascinating cultural issue, I tell you! 😉
I never thought of a full freezer as a cultural difference between Swedes and Spaniards until O pointed it out! For him it is really strange that we buy fresh bread, meat and fish, and then chuck them in the freezer! However, he does agree that it is really practical and handy to just take out half a loaf of bread when we need it. And shopping at Costco means that the meat and fish are packed in huge portions, so we always cut them up and freeze individually in dinner-for-two-sizes.
In O’s parents’ home in Spain there isn’t a big freezer – but a huge, industrial fridge stands in the former garage though. The garage has been converted into an enormous larder, full of canned, dried and fresh food! There are hams hanging from the ceiling, on the shelves you find big bottles of olive oil and wine, the biggest cans of olives, tuna and red peppers, big boxes of fruit and nuts… In the fridge there is bacalao, chorizo, yoghurt, lettuce.. The list is endless! I am amazed by the amount of food, I can understand that it was needed when the 5 children were living at home but now – and does it really keep fresh?
In my parents’ basement, there is a big freezer box and a free-standing freezer, as well as an extra fridge. The freezer is full of homemade cakes, buns and rolls, sliced bread, ice cream, meat, fish, stews, fruit and berries from the garden… My mother will always have some homemade cake or buns to take out for a fika when we come home.
Could the difference be climate? In the cold north we are used to keeping food “fresh” by freezing, in the hot south they dry it? The Spaniards also like eating pickled food, either in vinegar or oil. O is a firm believer that anything that is kept pickled or dried (dry ham or chorizo) will never go bad… We have quite a few discussions about eating old food, not to mention when I throw away food stuff – that is a very sensitive issue! And I still don’t understand why you would chose to eat dry, salty cod (bacalao*) when you could have fresh (or just frozen) fish..
It is an interesting topic, and how is it in other cultures? I guess in some countries the freezers are packed with ready-made meals and store-bought food? Personally, I have become like my mother and my grandmother, I try to freeze a few cakes everytime I bake!! I made some carrot-muffins** this afternoon, in the new big muffin non-stick cookie sheet (a bargain at Marshall, of course!) – they were very yummy, and I will stick a few of them in the freezer…
I might serve my carrot-muffins with a little cream cheese frosting, just like my favourite carrot cake!
*) They do soak the bacalao in water and de-salt it before cooking but it still tastes a little dry and salty.
**) Sorry, the recipe is only in Swedish – I used graham flour to make them a little healthier, and flavoured with my favourite spice – cardamom!