Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday buns, or fettisdagbullar

For most Americans, Mardi Gras is associated with New Orleans; with beads, masks and parade floats where the colors purple, green and gold predominate. Today, this first-generation immigrant also recalls her own personal set of images and connections, fettisdagbullar.

They go by many names. When Mom made them, they were fettisdagsbullar, or Fat Tuesday buns. In Swedish bakeries they are more commonly called semlor, or Shrove Tuesday buns.

As a primarily secular nation, where Lutheran is the predominant religious affiliation, the true meaning of Fat Tuesday likely mystifies most Swedes. They have, however, fully embraced the cultural phenomenon of semlor.

Semlor are a cardamom-spiced wheat bun. The top is cut off. The insides are scooped out and turned into crumbs. The crumbs are then mixed with almond paste and stuffed back into the bun, which is finally topped with whipped cream. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But they are taken very seriously by Swedes from New Year's Day up until Lent. Traditionally eaten on Tuesday, they are available other days too, because they are delicious. The average Swede eats 5 semlor each year.


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