LILLEMORS GOT BAK
Our next story in Sweden begins where our last story ends. Right as we leave Berglunds Bageri, I discover a giant book about the size of Leila. This book it written by a Swedish incubator for artisan food called Eldrimner. It has photographs, stories and maps of local, artisan producers. As The Recipe Hunters, we could not have come into contact with a book more useful, it's like a map to all the traditional recipes!? The book is called Smaklust but to us it is a sign for a… ROAD TRIP!!! To plan, we open the book and pick a few places to call in the local area. Worst-case scenario is everyone says no, and we go on a road trip in search for Leila’s moose (every time we drive through forests she obsesses over spotting one). Our eyes focus in on an ostrich farm picture with Ostrich egg ice cream...DONE. Next I start chanting “Ostkaka, Ostkaka” and we chuckle at how it sounds in English, so we call Astrid who invites us to come. We read further into the profiles and after a week of eating delicious Swedish flatbread we decide to reach out to Lillemor: a local, homemade Tunnbröd producer. Guess what, she says yes!!
Tuesday morning arrives and I wake up at 5:30 am to hair dry my newly washed pants and make some coffee. We jump in Marjo’s car, drive through the morning midst of the Swedish forests, listen to the Omnivore’s dilemma on Audible, and keep our eyes out for moose.
Two hours later, we arrive at Lillemors Bak and are met by a beautiful woman, with a bright presence. After we are greeted with a hug, Lillemor apologizes for being so awkward on the phone and for talking so slowly but she has been receiving spam calls from fake Microsoft telemarketers. All I can do is laugh as I think to myself, “Do I really sound like that?” We follow Lillemor to the woodshed where she picks up her axe and begins to chop firewood. I naturally ask to help, but she insists on doing it herself. We ask why she named her Bakery Lillemors Bak, and Lillemor laughs. She tells us that “Bak” is short for bakery but is also a play on words meaning back-side. She tells us a friend nicknamed her Bak and that we can take it for our own interpretation (Lillemor’s got Bak!). She fills her hands with the newly chopped wood and carries the stack to Lillemors Bak, where she sets the fire in her traditional, clay-stone oven. We are immediately impressed by the prowess of this Nordic independent woman.
As the clay stones begin to heat, Lillemor prepares the dough and recounts her transition from school bus driver to baker. After many years of service, the monotonous drive to and from school began to take a toll on Lillemor. She yearned to “create something special” and to spend more time around her children. At the same time a mentor advised, “Lillemor, you should make something with your hands.” Inspired by these words Lillemor quit her job, went to the library, took an online course about business, and started experimenting with bread. She bought a mixer (that she no longer uses) and her husband installed a wood burning stone oven in her household bakery. In pursuit of the perfect tunnbröd recipe (Swedish flatbread), Lillemor attempted combining her favorite assortment of spices and cheeses and after numerous tasty trials, Lillemor finally struck gold. Upon biting into this particular tunnbröd recipe, she cried with astonishment “this is damn good!” or “Lymmla Gott!” and this has been the name of her locally loved tunnbröd recipe ever since.
As we wait for the oven to heat to the right temperature, Lillemor brings us to her family den. The room is decorated with maps of all shapes and sizes. She explains that she has always been interested in traveling and books. She recounts a childhood story of how her father would yell at her for not helping outside because she was inside reading. She circumnavigated her angry father by throwing her books out the window so she could read them while “working” on the farm. Lillemor goes on to tell us the story of her mother, who at age 5 took an overnight train from Finland to Sweden with her twin sister to escape the Winter War during the 1940’s. Upon finishing the story, Lillemor exclaims, “my mother is a stronger woman than I will ever be.” We now understand where Lillemor gets her vigorous, independent mentality from.
After two cups of coffee, 3 hours of chatting, and a tour of her house, we return to the bakery. On her oven is inscribed, “Vad tjänar all människans kunskap till om hon inte vet varifrån brödet kommer - Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi” which Lillemor translates to, “what is all mankind’s knowledge worth if he does not know where his bread comes from.” Well today, we surely know where our tunnbröd comes from! Lillemor cuts heart shapes into the dough, sprinkles on the ingredients and swiftly rests the tunnbröd onto the hot clay stones. A few minutes later, the aroma of roasted sesames, fresh bread, and melted cheese fills the room. Our mouths water as she hands us our heart pieces and encourages us to try them while still warm. I bite into the tunnbröd and the bread crunches. I am met by the combination of the richness of the oils from roasted sesame and poppy seeds and the savory, melted cheese which holds all the crumbs together to ensure I do not miss a single seed! To Lillemor’s surprise I shout, “this is some damn good bread.”
With her new heart shaped tunnbröd, she is ahead of schedule for the next farmer’s market, and is elated to show her customers the new designs. We embrace and feel a strong connection to our new friend. We explain that we are going to check out an Ostrich farm and return tomorrow morning to meet Astrid in the neighboring town. Before we could finish talking, Lillemor insists that we stay the night in her newly purchased camper. We cannot decline the offer. Playing it by ear seems to have worked out! As we head to the Ostrich farm we crunch on the Lillemors Lymmla Gött Tunnbröd that is most definitely Made with Love in Sweden.