Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pea soup, pork, rye bread and cheese

"It's Tuesday let's do pea soup"
"It's not Tuesday"
"Yes it is. It is Tuesday"
"No but, I mean Tuesday is not pea soup day"
"Yes but, you said 'It's not Tuesday' which is wrong because it is Tuesday"
"No but, what I ment to say was Thursday is pea soup day"
"Then why not just say it then, instead of saying 'It's not Tuesday'"

Yes Thursday is indeed pea soup day. All over Scandinavia you have pea soup on a Thursday and pancakes and jam for afters. It is strange that certain days of the week are associated with certain foods. Fish for Friday was a catholic tradition in the village where I grew up.

So why have pea soup on Thursdays? Well here is a thought. When Sweden was converted to Catholicism, pea soup became the traditional meal for Thursday dinner--thick and hearty, especially "och flask" (with pork) to tide hardworking farmers over the Catholic fast on Fridays. Pea soup has continued to be eaten as a standard for Thursday dinners even to today, traditionally with brown mustard and crisp or hardcrusted bread, with a strong cheese.


Steep the Peasoup peas in water over night. Rinse peas well and strain the remaining water from them. Pour water into a saucepan. Add peas and smoked bones or knuckle of pork. Cook gently for 2-3 hours. Take a smoked knuckle from the saucepan, separate the meat and cut into little pieces. Chop onions and carrots and add them to the saucepan with meat, cream (not necessary but gives smooth taste), black pepper, and marjoram. Cook gently for half an hour. If you like, you can put a little bit of mustard into the soup. Traditionally pea soup is served with rye bread and cheese.

An American friend was a bit sceptical of pea soup and pancakes but he said he would give it a go. He took a spoonful of soup and directly afterwards took his knife and fork and cut himself a bit of pancake with some cream and jam on it. And so the meal progressed... spoonfull of soup... mouthful of pancake. It was such a wonderful and unusual sight I just let him get on with it. He enjoyed the combination and made a reputation for himself every Thursday as the peasoup/pancake man. People would smile when they saw him eating, and he was totally bemused at how friendly and smiling the Finns were towards him on Thursdays. I did not have the heart to tell him he should have eaten the peasoup first and the pancake afterwards.

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