November 17, 2008

Our Fake Family Tree

Today is "Family Heritage" day at my daughter's elementary school. Last week, Camber's kindergarten teacher sent home a letter requesting that each student contribute to the festivities by preparing a short report about the country of his/her ancestors' origin and bringing in a related visual aid.

Camber is extremely unlucky because both of her parents' ancestors come from a country known for bad teeth and fish & chips. I was in the process of helping my daughter make the only visual aid that I could think up on such short notice--a map of the world with colored dots marking all of the places that this country colonized in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries--when my husband interrupted our fun with the declaration that "we can do better."

I have to reach pretty far back on my rather crooked family tree to get to Sweden, but I get there eventually. By the time that I remembered my great-great-great-great grandmother from Stockholm, Ikea had already closed for the night, forcing me to come up with something other than a catalog of assemble-yourself furniture to display to my daughter's classmates.

A search for Swedish desserts online revealed that real Swedish cooks rely heavily upon two ingredients that are not in most Pennsylvanians' pantries: lingonberries and almond paste.

At 7pm, I found a recipe for a Swedish chocolate cake that serves twenty.

"That looks an awful lot like a Texas sheet cake," observed my husband.

Camber looked at me for reassurance.

"It's a SWEDISH sheet cake," I said firmly as I covered the lone star insignia on the recipe card with my hand.

Tim rolled his eyes.

"It's either this," I said, pointing at the cake, "Or the imperialist map. Take your pick."

He picked the cake.


Sandy said...

All you had to do was ask! I have both lingonberries and almond paste in my cupboard.

The Mommy said...

I recently decided to cook a Swedish dinner - to help my kids "embrace" their ancestry (My grandfather is 100% swede). Let's just say...they're not exactly known for good cookin'. However, thumbprint cookies are Swedish. And (Bonus!) easy to make!

Diva Ma said...

Hmmm, doesn't everyone have lingonberries and almond paste in their cupboards? LOL!

Anonymous said...

Swedish meatballs, anyone?

Sants said...

My son has to do this too and I was thinking of sending him with some Bubba teeth.

Janille said...

Can anyone say James Bond? Queen "Bloody" Mary (beheadings and burning at the stake)? Alice in Wonderland? Guy Fawkes Day (trying to blow up Parliament)? Robin Hood and Maid Marian? King Arthur and Merlin (technically Welsh, I know, but it is all G. B. now).

So many good English visual aids here.

Anonymous said...

Get prepared because this topic seems to come up endlessly at school. One of those bad moments I had on rearing my older daughters was when everyone had to bring in a food from their "native country." Our nationality is English, anyway mine is, and I know nothing about Lithuanian food so we went for sometype of roll, I dont even remember what we were trying to simulate but the teacher spoiled it all when he said to my daughter, "Aren't those hostess?" Apparently he had eaten them for lunch out of the teacher vending machine.

Makayla said...

Huh. I thought the imperialist map was rather a good idea... :)

Nikki said...

What the heck is a lingonberry?!?!

Malea said...

Swedish Fish, you coulda picked em up at the closest "Handy Mart" on the way to school.

Lisa said...

The first thing that entered my mind was also Swedish Fish. Probably because we always have a constant supply of them!

tifferbob said...

I have Swedish heritage and in school we always made Swedish tea cakes for those type of assignments. They are also known as, Norwegian butter balls or Mexican tea cakes.

Call them what you like, they are good.

Jana said...

Swedish meatballs?!!!! Why didn't I think of that?