When I thought about doing a homestay while studying abroad, one of the biggest perks I looked forward to was the cultural exchange. I was ready to learn about living in Sweden and integrating into the local culture. One aspect I hadn’t considered is that cultural exchange goes two ways.
Once I arrived, my host family and I decided that since I like to cook at home, it would be a good idea for me to cook once a week. Every Tuesday that I’m not traveling, I share a meal from home that I love with my host family. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Mom’s Pasta: This light pasta dish is one of my favorites to eat at home, and was perfect for my first home cooked meal in Sweden. We typically make it with Israeli couscous or pasta. You start by sauteeing broccoli and bell pepper in olive oil, salt, and pepper until they are soft and browned. This brings out amazing flavor. Then you incorporate your pasta or couscous with the vegetables and a generous amount of butter. Finish with lemon juice to brighten it up, and serve with freshly grated parmesan and a lemon wedge.
- Polish Feast: While grocery shopping in Täby one day, I discovered a Polish deli and decided I would share some of my favorite Polish dishes with my host family, as my dad’s family is Polish. I picked up some gołąbki, or cabbage rolls, and finished them in a tomato sauce with a little ketchup for sweetness. I also bought some sauerkraut pierogies, or Polish dumplings, and fried them with butter and onions. I also baked my Mom’s famous sugar cookies that she makes for every holiday or special occasion.
- Breakfast for Dinner: Every weekend, I partake in a traditionally Swedish breakfast with my host family: a soft-boiled egg, bread, butter, cheese, meats, cucumber or tomato, and a variety of jarred condiments ranging from jam to herring in mustard. I decided to share a traditionally “American-style” breakfast including eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and orange juice. With Lucky Charms marshmallow bars for dessert.
- Southern Style: Growing up in the South gave me a particular taste for Southern food, and working at Very Vera cooking camp for three summers lent me amazing recipes that I wanted to share with my host family. I made Very Vera’s cheddar chive biscuits, oven-baked cornflake fried chicken, peach cobbler, and for the vegetable – oven roasted okra. It may surprise my fellow Southerners to hear that okra is available outside of the States, but it is actually quite popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines as well.
- Hearty Winter Soup: My most recent dish was my family friend’s recipe for Beef Mushroom Barley soup. Cooked low and slow over several hours, it is rich, meaty, and warms you right up on a cold day.