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Monday, January 08, 2007

Seems retailers are catching on to my expatriate sensibilities

Do you want your clothing to reflect your deep love of Scandinavia? I sure do! Here at The Great American Bakery Hunt, we have a great appreciation for all things Scandinavian, largely (but not solely) because of the amazing Scandinavian bakeries that make this world a better place.

Enter Norwegiantees.com, an online retailer dedicated to Norwegian inspired t-shirts. Each shirt has a brief English explanation that describes how Norwegian culture influenced the design. Many of the designs capture the carefree, honest humor that is often associated with Scandinavian culture.

For example, a t-shirt featuring a moose design includes a caption that reads:

"The moose is the largest animal in the deer family which trots around the Norwegian woods and is called the king of the woods. Did you know that "hollering for the moose" is Norwegian slang, which means puking after a night of partying on the town? You do now..."

I can't say that I have any sentimental value for that phrase, since I was a resident of Denmark (Although I will surely be flaunting this new lingo around the streets of Orange County. "Did you see ___ last night? (S)he was hollerin' for the old moose like there was no tomorrow!, or maybe "Better not have one more drink, Bob. You'll be hollering for the moose by midnight at this rate.")

One of the shirts really struck a chord in my Scandinavia-obsessed heart:

My favorite is the ostehøvel tee, a wearable ode to cheese and the tool that makes eating it possible. When I lived in Denmark, there was nothing better than a warm home-baked slice of bread in the morning topped with butter, jam, and a stinky (and I mean that in the best way possible) creamy slice of Danish cheese.

Sadly, I do not know how I can replicate this breakfast concoction here in the states. Not only am I lacking fresh home-made bread made by my jolly Danish host mother, but I have no idea what that glorious stinky cheese is called! It never had a label, but always remained a mysterious, lovely presence in our small Danish fridge-- a big block of dairy greatness.

On most mornings in Denmark, I grabbed my open-faced cheese, butter, and jam sandwich as I ran out the door to catch my bus to school into Copenhagen. When I think of mornings in Roskilde, I think of that cheese, my voracious morning appetite, and how I was certain that the bus driver sniffed it as I took discreet bites and tried to bypass the "no eating" rule. (On a somewhat unrelated note, I also recall the theme song of a silly Danish children's show playing in the background as I struggled out the door each day with bookbag, breakfast, madpakke (lunch bag), and overcoat in tow. My host sister was a loyal morning viewer of "Martin og Ketil", a show that featured Martin, and his friend Ketil in a sort of Space Age hyperactive version of Mr. Rogers. Although I could rarely understand what they were saying, it was probably one of the funniest children's shows I ever layed eyes on. The two grown men went through a ritual each day, where they mixed a seemingly random, and often disgusting, combination of ingredients in their blender, which sat in the center console of their spaceship. I never found out why.)

Anyhow, those morning bus ride breakfasts live on in my memory: the thrill of defiance as I nibbled on the soft middle of the bread (the risk always worth the payoff), the perfectly chewy outside crust, my DSB transportation pass smeared with the residue of delicious, heavenly Danish butter, and the jingle of the Martin og Ketil theme song dancing around in my head. The simple ingredients were so satisfying, and as I sit here blogging, it's very possible that if I don't stop daydreaming, I will drool on my keyboard at the very thought of it.

That's all I can handle folks. It is with a heavy heart that I conclude this post. I would love to wear my ostehøvel shirt and support the young Norwegian designers that run Norwegiantees.com, but $40 (including shipping) for a t-shirt is a little too steep for my budget right now.

I am hoping to actually travel again in Scandinavia, and I best be saving up since Copenhagen will hardly be easy on the billfold. If anyone wants to buy ostehøvel for me, I promise to write you a nice thank you letter with a heartfelt "Tusind Tak" inside. But I would suggest buying one for yourself to keep the folks at Norwegian tees in business.

Clearly, a Norwegian tee is a wonderfully clever and whimsical gift, one that keeps on giving. And if you don't get it at the $40 price now, you know the t-shirts will be retailing at some outrageous $80 price at Urban Outfitters later on. I wish I was joking, but it is destined to happen. (I find that the trendy retailer is often exploiting the desires of wannabe expatriates like myself. Take this Europe themed hoodie , for example, an item that preys upon my aspirations to be an adventurous jetsetter. But how will I travel if I spend my money on $54 hoodies? Lucky Brand already snatched up my hard-earned dollars this year by designing a Paris-themed Eiffel Tower t-shirt. This madness has to stop somewhere.)

And so, my heart gets heavier, as I long for wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen once again, and hope that someday, I will return to Europe.
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