Saturday, 7 pm, I had sat down to dinner with my Icelandic hosts, an exotic feast glistened through the steaming vapor but I wasn’t too sure what and from where. I could tell it was wild much like my Amazonic hostess, but it wasn’t Icelandic, maybe it was Swedish but that seemed perhaps, unlikely too. Somewhere in-between my big question, in the surrounding neighborhoods, about 250 people, mostly students were preparing for an extra-ordinary event, Journey to the end of the night. This night, hunter and prey would take to the streets of Gothenburg, were-wolves and Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, all characters from the familiar Grimm Brothers fairy tales.
I. Journey to the end of the night, what is it? and how did you hear about it.
M. I was in a bar, I heard someone talking about a [zombie like] game played in the night, people chasing each other through the city…in the beginning your chased by 10 werewolves and you have to pass through five checkpoints through the city to win… there are games at each checkpoint but if you are caught you become a chaser. [This street game of chase originated from San Francisco and was held in Gothenburg this year. ]
Did you meet any strange characters?
Werewolves, witches, a dwarf… and a grandmother.
A real grandmother?
No someone dressed as one.
Were you at scared at any point…and did you survive?
Yes, you’re always on edge, you’re being chased and they don’t give up…at one point we were in a forest, people were coming towards us and we didn’t know if there were chasers or not, you start to get paranoid… I had to dive into a bush.. I didn’t made it to the end, I went through all 5 checkpoints but I was too late!!
What character did you most relate to?
Did you meet a red riding hood?
[pause, smile] There were some cute red riding hood’s.
Mickaël speaks easy, I meet him in August when he first arrived from Mont Saxonnex, France, he’s still got a lot of energy going on after two months in and warm smile to add.
If stories of werewolves seems unfathomable then rest assured because a real life Hansel and Gretel was at work. I decided to go down to Haga, the fairy tale district of Gothenburg. Joining me was Esla, a local girl and Omar, from Jordan, both classmates of mine. We were just meters from the cafe when Omar suddenly interjects “Oh, I can’t eat!, it’s not yet sunset”. Omar who is a Muslim is fasting at the moment but he insists that we carry on and he would just join in with the chatter. “No problem” he smiles “ very used to it in Sweden, and in winter the sun sets quickly” Inside, Elsa is taking healthy bite into a giant sized cinnamon bun, Omar is laughing graciously. I had a strange sensation, a few months ago I was in London, a multicultural city and yet I was alien to many of the interesting and diverse people that kept to themselves, but studying here in a small city with people from the world over, it’s a real connection.
When I returned home that evening, the shared kitchen was overtaken by a sweet smell, my Swedish neighbor a fellow student hands me a bag of 50 or so cinnamon buns, he goes on to explain the 4th of October ‘kanelbullens dag’ Cinnamon Bun Day where the nation bakes huge quantities of buns for friends and family . He tells me that his student group had been in a factory making three thousand buns to hand out, for free, to the students on campus. The prospect of making such a huge quantity of buns just to welcome students shows how important a Cinnamon Bun is! Meanwhile upstairs on the floor above, a group of students were staring at six bottles of hard liquor, they were on another trip all together, they weren’t interested in buns, at least not for another few hours yet, in the time I had finished my feast of amazons they had finished their potent stream of party fuel, ready for the weekend ahead.
One scotch, one bourbon, werewolves and three thousand cinnamon buns, the unusual concoction conjured up by the breakaway student youth of Gothenburg.
Amazonian Recipe (by student Bergþóra)
Three fillets of cod or haddock, generously covered with cashew nuts and mango chutney served with a fruit salad and yogurt blend.