Schwiezs Guld (och Blå)

“You are not going to buy any Swedish food,” I tell myself resolutely as I walk into IKEA, Geneva.*

Switzerland is a land where freshly baked baguettes and the best Gruyere cheese straight from Alpen cows grazing Heidiland are found on every corner supermarket shelf. Where ripe red tomatoes come from Italian fields and juicy apricots come from Spain (danger!). Where we are really not all that far from France, the birthplace of the modern conception of cuisine. Where restaurants serving the food of almost every culture under the sun are within walking distance from your apartment. Where even the CERN cafeteria (which I can officially not afford to eat at) is a culinary éxpériéncé.

Let’s just say the likes of Präst ost, Kalles Kaviar or Senap Sill seem, ahem, out of place. Let’s just say that Kex Chocklad is not quite up to par with the world’s finest Swiss Chocolates.

Walking into IKEA, Geneva, all of a sudden I think that all the prices are in kronor (500 for a sofa? Wow!! Oh, wait…), until I remember that the sign above the “Entreé” read “HEJ! Bienvenue à IKEA.”  Sure, IKEA is always a somewhat of an international constant, at least in the West. Everything is as expected, except for this IKEA is a little smaller (but you know, still huge), and there’s an omelet on the cafe menu instead of a shrimp sandwhich. After all, the world is the world is the world, and it’s really only the little differences that matter.

After getting What I Came For (a bedsheet) I can’t help but see what the food section holds. Lingon saft, Fläder saft, skorppor, köttbullar, knäckebröd, pepparkakor….precis vadsomhelst.

All of the usual suspects. However, I  notice that this IKEA sells Norrlands Guld, the official Redneck beer of Sweden. I have to laugh: Such a thing would have never happened in Sweden. Yet there it was, gleaming gold on the shelves, like some sort of stylish import. At 1.50 a can, the Genevois ladies in line in front of me were buying lots of it. In this land where the finest wines are produced just a hop, skip, and a jump away, Norrlands Guld? Really, fancy Genevan ladies? Really?

As it happens,my resolve to not buy any kind of Swedish food holds up just about as long as fancy Genevan ladies in front of a shelf of Norrlands Guld.

Ibland är det så att allt i livet man vill ha är lite svenska godis.

In my defense, Salt Sill is, as far as I can tell, not available in the US.  Also, that fish looks uncomfortably smug.

Sometimes, nostalgia wins out over actual quality. And god, that lingon sylt I bought is gonna be good in my gröt tomorrow morning.


*Yes, one week here and I’ve found my way to IKEA. I would’ve gone sooner if I’d had the chance. Not ashamed.


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