Give peas a chance

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Staying in

There are a lot of customs and traditions around food. In Sweden, one of them is having pea soup with bacon on Thursdays. Pea Soup Thursday is particularly popular in public kitchens, like schools and hospitals, and in the army. For the hardcore fans, it should be accompanied by Swedish punch (liquor with arrak, not to be confused with the kind that comes in a big, colorful bowl and gets you so much drunker then you ever thought possible, because who ever only had one glass of fruity punch, seriously?). It’s a little unclear why this Thursday-thing started, but one theory is that way back when, when Sweden was Catholic, Friday was fasting day. Therefore, you needed something sturdy the day before to pull you through.

Pea soup, which is made of yellow peas, is typical husmanskost. Like most of these dishes it’s cheap and pretty straightforward, it used to be your everyday food. I live in an old prison, and in the hallway there’s a framed old menu from 1848. Those interns would eat either pea soup or porridge every day. If they were lucky, like on Sundays when the attitude was a little bit more forgiving, the porridge came with bread and the soup with bacon. Of course now, like a lot of these traditional dishes, it’s becoming more rare, even in restaurants, and few people seem to bother to make it themselves. Like I said, it’s not hard, it just takes some time and planning ahead since the peas should soak for at least six hours before cooking, preferably even over night.

I have actually never made pea soup myself, I’ll have to give credits to my mother for what you see in this picture. She makes it the proper way: served with mustard and punch and with pancakes for dessert. Since I am a natural born pancake-maker, I guess I should just go ahead and make the soup too. If I fail with that, at least I’ll have the pancakes. Everyone knows the most important thing is to have a strong finish.

What are you national traditions when it comes to food and eating?

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Malin Ågren is a copywriter living in Sweden. Food is her number one hobby.

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