“More Swedish than Sweden” was the title of an exhibition at the museum Kulturen in Lund (Sweden) many years ago. At the time, I was hanging out with mostly Americans, and curious about everything that tied Sweden and the US together. One of the display cases was jam-packed with coffee pots from the 19th century. The sign mentioned “egg coffee”.
Every Swede, or descendent thereof, knows Swedes drink a lot of (strong) coffee. But what was “egg coffee”??? I asked the staff but they had no answer. My American husband and I were on a quest to find out what “egg coffee” was (this was before google). We asked Swedes from Norrland, Gotland, Halland, Skåne and anywhere in-between but only got confused looks in return – for 12 years. Finally, after we moved to the US and visited Apple River Fort we found out. While the kids were making noodles, we chatted with volunteers in period costumes and we jumped high for joy when the conversation stumbled upon egg coffee. Egg coffee is simply what you get when you pour an egg over the coffee grounds in the pot to bind them and keep them from getting into the coffee cup. This was before coffee filters and French press. Today, “Egg coffee” gives 84,000 google hits and it is obvious from the comments, e.g. here, that it is truly a Swedish-American phenomenon, not a Swedish tradition.
Last Sunday morning, there was a stream of Facebook posts with adorable Swedish Princess Leonore being Christened at the Palace of Drottningholm. When I later that day arrived at the Swedish American Museum and the Andersonville Midsummer Festival in Chicago (two weeks before midsummer, but ok…), I was asked about the tradition of a Midsummer Queen. Midsummer Queen? My first thought that Sweden has a queen every day, so why a midsummer one? Swedish midsummer is about inviting family and friends to your summer cottage, about going to the neighborhood midsummer pole event and dance, about dancing all night during the night that goes directly from dusk to dawn and about girls picking 7 flowers to hide under her pillow to dream about her future husband ;). On midsummer eve, Swedish cities and towns are empty, very empty, and festivals or midsummer queens are only found abroad. (Watch “Swedish Midsummer for Dummies” if you don’t believe me.)
It seems hard for some of my American friends to imagine kings, queens, princes and princesses being an everyday reality as it is in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and several other European countries. Maybe there is less need for “festival queens” when there is a charming royal family to pay attention to instead? Princess Madeleine, the youngest of the King’s children and mother of Princess Leonore, lives in New York with her British-American husband. I wonder what it is like to be a real princess in a country without princesses other than in fairy tales? Today happens to be her birthday; Happy birthday Princess Madeleine, enjoy it with your family in Sweden!