One of the Swedish newspapers that I read, Dagens Nyheter or DN for short, has an etiquette column written by a famous etiquette expert called Margareta Ribbing. I find it absolutely fascinating to read the questions sent in by readers, the answers written by Margareta and the sometimes outrageous debates that follow through the readers’ comments.
Maybe I have been away too long from Sweden and have gotten used to adapting to foreign cultures with different traditions, or maybe I am completely oblivious to the trail of insulted Swedes and foreigners I leave behind me?? Nevertheless, I am often astounded by the etiquette issues people have. You would assume that common sense and communication would be enough to solve most problems – especially when living in a relatively homogenous society such as Sweden. Why not actually ask people what they expect from you – do they want you to take off your shoes or not, split the restaurant bill or calculate everyone’s share by the decimal…
I don’t know if this is a typically Swedish phenomenon or if people all over the world encounter the same dilemmas in everyday life? We usually say that we Swedes are so afraid of confrontation and making fools out of ourselves, is that why etiquette is so important? I am not saying that etiquette wouldn’t be important abroad, but are Swedes more anxious to not make etiquette blunders?
And do you expats, Swedish or not, find it easier or more difficult to interact with your countrymen after having lived abroad? And how do you deal with etiquette issues with people in your adoptive country? Sometimes it might be easier to be a foreigner and blame your faux pas on that!? Are the so-called unwritten rules in Sweden stricter than abroad?
My new idea for the Wednesday posts is that I will continue publishing recipes but also polls on etiquette to see how you reason around these, at least in Sweden, hotly contested etiquette dilemmas! I know that most of my readers, or at least the ones that comment, are Swedish expats but let’s see if we all agree or disagree with Margareta Ribbing and her readers… Every Wednesday I will choose one of the questions from Etikettfrågan (The Etiquette Question) for you to vote on. Let the debate begin!
The first etiquette question:
Do you bring your own sheets & towels when you stay at friends’ places (this is a link to the original question in Dagens Nyheter – in Swedish of course)?
Do you assume that if the host doesn’t mention sheets, it means that you should bring your own stuff? Or the other way around? Does it matter if you are visiting friends in a summerhouse (maybe without a washing machine) or at their permanent home? Do you even bring your own pillow and duvet? In other words, what is your sheet & towel principle?
And now to the Wednesday recipe, which once again is one of O’s recipes! One of the many reasons why I love my O is that he is a great cook, I find that very attractive in a man! We both enjoy cooking, and as you might have guessed by now from the recipes I publish, we prefer simple recipes. This is not a recipe for an actual dish but can serve as a future ingredient in all kinds of dishes – salads, frying meat, fish or vegetables…
O’s Spicy Olive Oil
– a clean empty glass bottle
– olive oil
– fresh herbs – for example rosemary or thyme
– a few peeled cloves of garlic
– sundried tomatoes and / or a few small dried chilis
– peppercorns, preferably a mix of red and black etc
Put all the ingredients in the glass bottle and add olive oil. After just a day or so the oil will have a wonderful flavour from the spices and herbs!
NB. I found that the rosemary sprig that sticks up in the air above the oil level started to grow mould – so it is probably better if you don’t use entire sprigs of rosemary (i.e cut them in smaller pieces) or regularly add more oil.