Finally caught up with Scandimania, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘investigation’ of what makes Scandinavians so damn happy. I had no idea they were supposed to be such a jolly bunch. But then pretty much everything I know about Scandinavians is based on tv dramas, crime novels, one Danish friend, one Norwegian friend, one Finnish colleague and a couple of city breaks.
I don’t know what percentage of Swedes have been to Ekstedt, where everything on the menu is cooked over a wood-burning fire, but that’s where HFW begins his Swedish adventure with some fiery and very expensive Nordic nosh. Just to give you an idea our completely different approach to things, my Swedish gastronomic journey kicked off at Fotografiska with this little gem of an open sandwich:
So, belly full, HFW flies to Umea and goes hunting with a local group who are assisted by an elk-loving dog equipped with a GPS collar. It’s all very hi tech and nothing like the hunting I saw in Kjell Sundvall’s Jägarna (The Hunters – available on UK Netflix). Keeping an eye on the little doggy icon on his Garmin, Hugh whispers quite earnestly to the camera in his best David Attenborough impression, “So the dog is quite close now – 125m and getting closer. And if it’s with an elk that means it could be coming within range quite soon.” It was all I could do not to fall off my chair laughing. I could almost see myself enjoying this Swedish version of hunting which seemed to mostly involve sitting around by the fire, drinking coffee and eating berries. But then somebody actually shot an elk and they did the gutting. Nothing like a steaming pile of guts to put you off this rural lark. And then Hugh cooks up the elk’s liver for the hunting party. Can we go back to the city now, please? Of course we can. Let’s go to Ikea.
I quite like the flatpack houses of Gothenburg. They go up even faster than the new builds in my part of east London. Better insulation too, I’ll bet. I’m bitterly disapppointed that he didn’t make it to Malmo. According to my Danish friend, it is home to the best falafel in Europe. But otherwise, Hugh, not bad. Not bad at all. Bring on the Danes.