Last weekend, Rob and I crossed another item off the Oregon Bucket List, and one that I have been dying to see since moving to the Oregon Coast. After a hard work-week (at least for Rob), we set off Friday morning for the 5-hour drive up the rugged and winding Oregon Coast road ending in Astoria, one of the most unique, genuine, and culturally robust cities in the state.
I have been in love with Astoria since I visited it during a sidetracked detour from a work-related conference. It was February; cold, windy, dreary, and yet the energy was strong and alive in the old, small cannery town. Better even, the Scandinavian culture drew me in at the first sight of a Finnish flag standing downtown waving at full mast. At that I-belong-here moment, I vowed at some point in my life, to live in Astoria.
Granted, and obviously, I haven’t yet lived in Astoria. But I Rob and I did make it up there for the Scandinavian Festival. It was a fantastic weekend, and I think Rob saw a side of me that was new to him. Here were some of the highlights:
– Immediately being recognized as a Finn.
– Rob lighting up when he was told he could “maybe pass as a Viking.”
– Listening to folk music from Swedish and Finnish fiddle and accordion bands (a great spark for memories of polkaing with my dad).
– Watching the Astoria Opry pay homage to the Scandinavian married life (according to them, it costs $500k to get a divorce from a Scandinavian – because, “it’s worth it!” Yikes!)
– Seeing giant, giant men walking around. Seriously. Like, Thor, Magnus, and Ole-type giant.
– Being kissed on the cheek by a giant Finnish man masquerading as a Troll.
– Seeing Rob getting kissed by the giant Finnish man masquerading as a Troll.
– Eating many, many meatballs.
– Eating lots and lots of berry jams.
– Eating lots and lots of pastries.
– Eating as much Finnish Fruit Soup as my already-stuffed belly could handle.
– Hearing the story of how a wood-worker was not able to sell his products at the festival until the committee found out his wife was half-Finnish, half-Norwegian (he was German and clearly tried – though not with much avail – to stifle feeling miffed. His wife, with her typical Scandinavian stoic, strong, and you-know-I’m-always-right-and-you-better-be-thanking-me look, just sat in a chair in the back of the booth and gladly took our money).
– Finally, realizing I’ve been naturally, and unknowingly, cooking Scandinavian style foods and dishes for most of my adult life.
Enjoy some pics, and recipes to come!