In Sweden, my friend groups are predominantly Swedish instead of being made up of fellow expats. There are, however, a few notable exceptions, including my friend Steve from Michigan.
Steve is a special kind of American expat, because he is the most crazy mix of integrated and not integrated that I have ever seen or heard of in my life. Swedish friends, Swedish job, Swedish roommates—but until earlier this summer, he could hardly speak a word of Swedish. And thank goodness he’s that way, because while we love our lives in the midst of the Swedish masses, sometimes we need to join forces for a little Americana.
Enter the American brunch.
To celebrate summer, to celebrate glorious travel plans, to celebrate a treasured weekend tradition, we (plus one of Steve’s Swedish roommates, M-Lou) threw ourselves a brunch to be proud of.
While a love of brunch is obviously not limited to Americans (see: Brunch Stockholm), I would argue that our particular brunch traditions have elevated it beyond its basic definition as a half-breakfast, half-lunch meal around mid-day. Firstly, the range of options is staggering. Secondly, the amount of food is staggering. (Both of which are reasons why most people stagger home from a successful brunch outing.)
What did we have at our brunch? All the American classics, but with a Swedish twist.
American pancakes two ways: with lingonberry jam and with honey and fresh fruit! Mimosas with elderflower cordial! Super-crispy bacon made from Swedish pigs! A pitcher of Bloody Mary, made spicy and with orange juice by a Chilean-Swede-Barcelonan transplant! Coffee brewed to Swedish levels of intensity! And then a few favorites we didn’t mess with: hash browns a la Kate, scrambled eggs a la Steve, fruit salad a la M-Lou.
Holy moly, Captain America in Sweden.
Brunch was delicious. We ate and drank and listened to music, watched the cats play, talked about summer travel plans and enjoyed the sunshine coming in through the window. Post-brunch staggering ensued. We tried to ease the strain of our overstretched stomachs by drinking coffee and listening to Motown. For some reason, it seemed appropriate at the time.
As I slowly made my home, I thought about all the brunches I have been to at my house in the States or at restaurants, with family and with friends, to celebrate special moments and to commiserate about our hangovers. Our brunch may not have been the typical American fare you’d find in the United States, but it satisfied our need to be nostalgic for home. Even better, by becoming an American-Swedish hybrid, it reflected the state we find ourselves in today: a little of this, a little of that, a mix of all the places and people we love.