The Scandinavian countries have long been known as the capital of furniture design and architecture., which is understandable since they have to spend a long time out of the year indoors, with dark, cold winters ruling them for more than half the year.
Recently though, the tide is changing. This Economist article goes into the different industries that are being taken over by Scandinavian forces in the recent years. There is an explosion of mainstream culture in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.
Maybe your favorite novel’s author is actually from Sweden. Did you know that the restaurant considered the best in the world is Noma from Copenhagen? How about the music industry, it turns out that about a third of the records in the Billboard 100 bestsellers have Swedish fingerprints on them. How about fashion? Well, this blog from Helsinki, Finland is one of my most inspiring street fashion blogs. It is so unique and stylish, so hard to put a finger on what kind of style it is!
There is so much we can learn from being interested and open-minded about the world. Enjoy exploring the world of cultures!
Above photo is one of the dishes served at Noma, courtesy of this BusinessInsider article
Whether you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or not (which is coming up on March 17th, btw), it is a good time to think about the delicious Irish-American dish of Corned Beef and Cabbage. Even though I did not have any Irish heritage, my mother would make corned beef with cabbage at least twice a year, and I have very fond memories of the comfort food served along with rice pilaf made of butter and dried scallops.
So what exactly is the history of corned beef? Is it really Irish? Well, it turns out that it is not so authentically Irish after all. According to the recent History channel article here, from the arrival of first immigrants from Ireland to the United States in 1762, over the next 100 years, Irish immigration to the United States exploded. The new wave of immigrants brought their own food traditions, including soda bread and Irish stew. Pork was the preferred meat, since it was cheap in Ireland and ubiquitous on the dinner table. The favored cut was Irish bacon, a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. But in the United States, pork was prohibitively expensive for most newly arrived Irish families, so they began cooking beef—the staple meat in the American diet—instead.
So how did pork and potatoes become corned beef and cabbage? Irish immigrants to America lived alongside other “undesirable” European ethnic groups that often faced discrimination in their new home, including Jews and Italians. Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork. And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare.
Corned beef and cabbage is another evidence of good things coming out of crossing cultures.
Here is an easy recipe from the Today show to try at home, along with a recipe for Gur cake as well.
If you’d like to try the traditional dish at a restaurant, you can try a local Irish pub, or any of these restaurants in the New York City area.
Photo from the History channel article
I recently came across 2 news articles about 95 year old men that show remarkable physical agility at their age. One was a man from Finland, his name is Nils-Olof Eklundh, started skiing in 1937, and still hits the slopes every weekend.
And then there is the British 95 year old that just set the record for 200 metres at the British Masters in London, as you can see in this BBC news.
What is the secret to their health and vitality? Well, despite his active lifestyle, Mr Eklundh says he doesn't have any secrets for being healthy in later life, and instead puts his longevity down to good luck. "If anyone eats unhealthily, it's me," he says. "In my entire life, I haven't eaten anything green." Instead, he favours "lots of sugar and butter", and a hearty breakfast: "In the morning, always five slices of traditional sweet Finnish bread, and tea."
Having an active lifestyle is so important at any age, the body is made to move and work, not to be sitting at a desk all day… These amazing people around the world definitely reminded me to walk, run, ski or jump at every opportunity.
Above picture from the BBC article about Mr. Nils-Olof Eklundh
Unicultural team and trainers, sharing our views and experiences on everything cultural.