One of the main things you have to do pre-Christmas, is baking. My mom has always been a baker, and I’ve inherited her enthusiasm for it. According to ancient Norwegian traditions, a housewife with any pride will have at least seven types of “cookies”* made before Christmas. My mom usually makes about fifteen. Today, I doubt the seven-rule applies anymore for most homes, but baking and Christmas are inevitably connected in many people’s minds. Personally, I don’t feel like it’s proper Christmas without having made at least a couple of “cookie” types.
This year we started early. Since I am working most of December, I probably won’t come back to visit my parents a lot before Christmas. Consequently, if I were to participate in any pre-Christmas baking with my mom, it had to happen today, before I return to Oslo tomorrow (which reminds me – I might be scarce for a while, moving and all). Therefore, we embarked upon making smultringer.
Another tricky translation. According to a dictionary, a smultring is a doughnut, but I am here to enlighten you. A doughnut is a ring of fat, frequently with icing on top of it (as though you needed sugar on top of your fat). A smultring is a smaller ring of fat (actually, it’s dough deep fried in lard, but the effect is much like a ring of fat), but at least we would never in a million years as much as consider putting icing on it… As you might suspect, I’m not a huge fan of doughnuts (or icing), and no, I’m not that much of a fan of smultringer either. I like making them (even if the fat steaming up from the pot likely will give me grease stained lungs). I also like eating smultringer, in small amounts, and for Christmas, and ONLY if they are homemade. This might be why I object to doughnuts. Whereas doughnuts in my mind taste like what I imagine the inside of a McDonald’s employee’s hat tastes like, at least the smultring has a flavor besides the grease. And that flavor isn’t sugar. Also, it helps that smultringer are smaller than doughnuts, seeing as I tolerate so little of each.
Despite my slight contempt for the concept of deep fried “cookies”, it was fun to make today’s smultringer, and the outcome was good. We now have one out of seven (or fifteen) in the freezer. Chances are I won’t be around for the next six (or fourteen), so I cherished this occasion, even if the Christmas spirit wasn’t exactly in place yet. Hopefully that will come towards the end of this month.
* “Cookies” is not actually an accurate translation, but I’m having a hard time finding one covering what I’m talking about. In Norwegian, we use the word for “cake” – kake – for both cake and this other thing that I tentatively translated to "cookies", only we add a description. “Cookies” are småkaker [small cakes], while a cake, can, depending on what type of cake it is, for instance be formkake, sjokoladekake, bløtkake and so on. Cookies (as in actual cookies, not the translation “cookies”) is just one type of småkaker (or so it seems to me – having spent just three months of my life in an English speaking country, I cannot say for sure I fully understand the deeper meaning of the word cookie). A potentially better translation could be pastry, but then again, that seems too wide. I’m going to go with “cookies” (complete with quotation marks).