Gothenburg,  Sweden

Kåre Lindqvist in Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg
Kåre Lindqvist
Torsk

The Place: Gothenburg, Sweden

A city cloaked in a rich history, oozing with the vibrance of bright red rooftops, manicured parks, and cafe-lined streets; Gothenburg is what you might call a ‘hidden’ gem. After spending just a day there, you’ll realise it’s a city full of quirks, whether it’s the fact that no one wears white caps because “that’s what the tram conductors wear”, or the strange prevalence of greek statues, like Poseiden in the photo, which play an important part in Gothenburg culture. Take a stroll through their most popular park, Slotskoggen, and you’ll find it doubles as a free zoo, with enclosures for penguins, otters, and more found in pockets along the path. Meandering along the streets, you’ll notice the people of Gothenburg are ridiculously trendy, which makes people-watching that much more enjoyable since it seems like everyone is coming fresh from a Vogue photo shoot; fanny packs, white linen shirts, and edgy jewellery seem to be part of the informal dress code. It’s this quirkiness that makes the city feel alive, and on it’s own incredibly distinctive cultural island that separates it from the rest of Scandinavia. A student-friendly city, its made even more enjoyable by the fact that the Swedish Kroner is weaker than it’s Danish and Norwegian counterparts, meaning you’re money will last you a little longer. So, if you get the chance, be sure to stop by Gothenburg: city of quirks.


Please note that we do not fact-check our interviewees, and that their views do not necessarily represent our own.

The Person: Käre Lindqvist, 20, Aspiring Producer

My full name is actually ‘Käre Pontus Bogren Larsson Lindqvist Öh’, but I usually just say Käre Lindqvist, and I’m an aspiring producer of music. I’ve been playing music since I was like six years old; just basic guitar in the beginning and then I was in music school for a long time. Then when I was around 14-15, I started to lose the magic of being on stage and it became just a thing I had to do for school, but I started actually producing music as a hobby. That kind of spiralled to a point where that became my main obsession.

This area is ‘Hage’, the old quarter of Gothenburg. I’ve lived here in Gothenburg almost all my life, but we moved around in the city a lot.  When I’m not making music I’m usually researching it or trying to analyse different producers or artists. But I’m also very interested in fashion so I spend a lot of time looking for deals in second-hand shops and online. My mum is a designer so I get that from her.

  1. What is home to you?

“…sometimes a song can bring me ‘home’. Talking to a person I enjoy talking to can bring me home in that sense, too. I’m not really sure how to describe that feeling…”

See Kåre's Full Answer

I don’t really think of ‘home’ in like a geographical sense… at least I don’t think I do. I don’t tend to think of home as being ‘this apartment’ or ‘the apartment my Dad lives in’, because we switched apartments a lot when I was growing up so home became a vague sense of when I’m either with somebody specific, or maybe just when I’m in a certain mood… sometimes a song can bring me ‘home’. Talking to a person I enjoy talking to can bring me home in that sense, too. I’m not really sure how to describe that feeling… Nostalgia, I guess. When I’m Nostalgic and introspective, that’s when I’m home. But geographically, I think home can be anywhere for anybody. It’s just about finding what’s home to you, and that’s it for me.

  1. What is special about Gothenburg?

That uniqueness of having two things happen at once; being an old town and a new town at the same time- being a small town but still the second biggest in Sweden. Not having much culinary expertise… but still having some really interesting food to enjoy.”

See Kåre's Full Answer

The mix between the youth and the old, I guess. The fact that there’s rustic, beautiful houses which can be very traditional and “Swedish” in some ways. But the youth kind of takes that and implements it in their own way, with their own culture. That uniqueness of having two things happen at once; being an old town and a new town at the same time- being a small town but still the second biggest in Sweden. Not having much culinary expertise- not many Michelin star restaurants – but still having some really interesting food to enjoy; being “Lagom”: the Swedish word for “just right”.

 

The youth culture for some people here is influenced by immigration, too. I actually say Arabic words like “In shāʾa llāh” without thinking about it because it’s just part of the lingo. That’s a youth culture thing throughout Sweden but the words change depending on where you are. Like “Araba” is pretty unusual in some places but in Gothenburg and Stockholm that’s what some people call a car.

  1. What have you learned from living in Gothenburg?

If you want to be someone creative you have to not only put in the time for the creative work but also connect with people and such. So in Stockholm that’d be going to the big parties and networking with people and stuff.  But here it’s a bit more close and quaint.”

See Kåre's Full Answer

I think just to not stress about things. We are a small town, but a big town at the same time. You do have to get things done in order to progress in life. If you want to be someone creative, you have to not only put in the time for the creative work but also connect with people and such. So in Stockholm that’d be going to the big parties and networking with people,  but here it’s a bit more close and quaint; a bit more intimate. So we have these aspects of big-town life but they’re like reduced down, kind of like you would a stock: it simmers down. You can have a more slow-paced plan here in Gothenburg compared to somewhere like Stockholm.

  1. Have you been outside of Sweden and where is your favourite place to go?

Norway actually. It’s sort of familiar but… It’s a different take on Scandinavian life”

See Kåre's Full Answer

I really enjoy being in Norway actually. It’s sort of familiar but there’s a lot more “things” I feel happening than in Gothenburg. It’s the same in Stockholm but we’re talking outside of Sweden. It’s a different take on Scandinavian life, but I don’t like the prices though. I go to Norway occasionally with family, sometimes to visit my godfather. Whenever I’m there it’s really enjoyable.

  1. Can you think of a time you have been proud of Sweden?

Gothenburg is fairly warm-hearted and open to disenfranchised people. I know a lot of people from churches and such that have taken in refugees with open arms.”

See Kåre's Full Answer

With pride over things you haven’t done in general, like saying “I’m proud to be a Swede” and things like that… I try not to think about it that way, because I feel I personally haven’t accomplished anything, so should I be proud? I might be very happy that Swedes or ‘Gothenburgians’ acted in a certain way, and feel very positive about it, but “proud”? I don’t think I can claim pride for something I personally haven’t done.

That being said, I think Gothenburg is fairly warm-hearted and open to disenfranchised people. I know a lot of people from churches and such that have taken in refugees with open arms and stuff like that. That really warms my heart, to see the human condition break through in that way.

  1. What is your main concern or worry about Gothenburg or Sweden?

It’s pretty silly when people get extremely angry for people voting for other people. But I also think it’s extremely silly that some uninformed vote for the Swedish Democrats (a racist party) because they think it’s not going well for them”

See Kåre's Full Answer

I have a concern with Sweden about the rise of the right-wing parties. I understand that people want to vote what they want to vote for, but I think extremist factions in general aren’t the solution. It’s pretty silly when people get extremely angry for people voting for other people. But I also think it’s extremely silly that some, most probably uninformed, people vote for the Swedish Democrats (a racist party) because they think it’s not going well for them under the current government. The Swedish Democrats are growing, and they’re the furthest right party we have. I don’t like extreme to the left either, but I don’t really want to get political: nobody wants to read a political statement from a 20-year-old.

 

With Gothenburg, I have some worry with the modernisation of the city – we’re doing projects to make it a “big, big city”- the quaint, warm feeling might be a bit lost. I’m hoping that they’re going to leave older places like Hage intact. I do realise that a city has to grow, but these little parts of the city make it uniquely what it is, and I kind of want to keep the essence of that.

  1. How would you convince a tourist to visit?

If you’re an American, I’d say it’s a quaint city in a way I don’t think you’ve seen before. If you’re a Brit, I’d say you can get f****d up here and it’s no problem.”

See Kåre's Full Answer

That depends where they’re from. If you’re an American, I’d say it’s a quaint city in a way I don’t think you’ve seen before. If you’re a Brit, I’d say you can get f****d up here and it’s no problem. Generally it’s a really beautiful city in a way that’s gonna surprise you. It’s not stereotypically beautiful. It’s very unique in that way.

  1. What are your thoughts on Stereotypes of people from Gothenburg?

We’re really “brötig”; loud and obnoxious. We make puns all the time. We talk very loudly. But there’s some nice ones, like us being a cheery, happy, warm group of people.”

See Kåre's Full Answer

We’re really “brötig”; loud and obnoxious. We make puns all the time. We talk very loudly. But there’s some nice ones, like us being a cheery, happy, warm group of people. I think it’s 50/50 as to whether it’s true or not. There are a lot of dudes working in the harbour, and admittedly they have a really hard job so I’d be pissed off if I was them and someone called me a happy Gothenburgian. So some people think we’re like the harbour-worker type dudes, and some like the cheery people.

  1. What is the best thing to ever come out of Gothenburg?

“The punk and metal scenes when they were up came out with really rebellious, aggressive music. Like fläskkvartetten – that’s a band; the Swedish people will know who I’m talking about.”

See Kåre's Full Answer

I think the music is really cool that’s coming from here. The punk and metal scenes when they were up came out with really rebellious, aggressive music. Like Fläskkvartetten – that’s a band; the Swedish people will know who I’m talking about. There was a lot of weird music, like “Prog”: progressive rock with organs and klinky guitars and such. So I think the music scene is the best thing to come out of Gothenburg. I think culturally we have a lot of stake in that. We have a lot of what we call “kultureliten” – the cultural elite. We provide a lot of music that always sticks. It persists no matter what it is when it comes from Gothenburg. If ask this question to a 40-year-old, they’ll say the best band ever was from Gothenburg. A 16-year-old will say the same thing.

 

  1. What do you eat during the Holidays here?

See Kåre's Full Answer

We eat “Sill”, it’s herring fillet. Who’d have guessed that we eat fish in Scandinavia! You Americans, you do Turkey, right? That’s the main thing on thanksgiving. There’s other stuff on the side but the main thing is the turkey. Or ham on Christmas. But here, we do tables of things. There’s some traditional things you always have. In winter, you have meatballs, red beet salad, some fish, tiny hotdogs and ‘Janssons Frestelse’, which is herring and potato that’s put in the oven and becomes crispy on the top and creamy on the inside… super good. We have these tables that are very Swedish called a “Julebord” – a “Christmas table”. We also have crayfish and drink schnapps a lot. But the rules are very strict on what you have. You stick to the traditions here. Unlike Norway, we barely have pinnekjøtt here.

  1. What is your favourite Swedish Dish?

See Kåre's Full Answer

It’s probably the sill. It’s tiny fish- tiny herrings and you have it with different sauces. It’s boiled, but you eat it cold and you get it in a can. You have them with French onion sauce or mustard or something like that, maybe some curry sauce. You typically have 10 lots of them on a table.

  1. And your least favourite?

It tastes horrible. It tastes like rotten fish. It doesn’t bullsh*t you. It tastes like fish that has been buried for six months. It tastes like a body that was dug up.”

See Kåre's Full Answer

Surströmming. That sh*t is f*****g disgusting. Whoever invented it should be shot. I don’t know exactly what the process is, but you essentially take herring, ferment it, and bury it in the ground for like half a year. Then it just smells like death. People actually open it up and say “oh, that smells like a dead body.” Stereotypically, old people like it. They have on sandwiches or hard bread. I guess the aim was just to see if we can bury something for six months and then eat it. You eat them whole. It’s nasty. It looks like death, too! It tastes horrible. It tastes like rotten fish. It doesn’t bullsh*t you. It tastes like fish that has been buried for six months. It tastes like a body that was dug up.

Reccomendation:

We’re gonna go to Sgöbaren. They serve Gothenburg fish-based stuff. It’s all from the ocean. Like clams, shrimp and fish. It’s local, really fresh and really good. The plate that is recommended to you is the Fiskegratin or the Blue Mussel Soup. The fiskegratin comes with lemon on top, dill and shrimp in the middle. It’s creamy with potato and fish… kind of like Gratin Dauphinois with fish.

Life According to Locals #Gothenburg #Sweden #InterviewsWithLocals Click To Tweet


The Plate: Torsk at NOBA (Not Sgöbaren)

We learnt a hard lesson in Gothenburg. If you want to go out for dinner anywhere – and I really do mean anywhere – play it safe and book in advance. Our first recommendation from Kåre was totally booked, so we went to his second… and then his third. There, we had a little more luck, and we were still able to sample some of the finest local food Gothenburg has to offer.

I have to admit, Torsk was easily my favourite “Plate” so far, which surprised me because I struggle to cope with the fishy punch delivered by some types of seafood. For those not familiar with the language, Torsk is Cod, but, unlike the hearty Scandinavian dinners you’ll find in much of Sweden and Norway, this particular dish was in the form Nouvelle cuisine. What does that mean? Well, what you’re going to get is going to look fantastic, but it will not fill you up. Nouvelle cuisine was originally a French approach to cooking, which puts a lot of emphasis on presentation. So, when I received  two peelings of cucumber fanning out across my plate, chick pea puree, a dusting of paprika and what must have been some kind of dill sauce, I was taken aback, and slightly concerned I’d have to order seconds. What was lacking in quantity, however, was made up for in quality. On my first bite, I braced myself for the fishiness to greet me… it never did. Instead, what I found was a gentle experience with soft and unintimidating flavours that will guide you into a state of relaxation and appreciation for a unique take on Swedish food. Paired with a local beer like “Tail of a Whale” or “Great White”, and you’ll feel like a true Gothenburgian.


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Attempting to cycle from Tromsø in Northern Norway to Baku, Azerbaijan while interviewing locals en route. Despite my chequered history with bikes, here’s to me returning home with an intact facial structure and at least as many body parts as I left with.

2 Comments

  • Hilda

    I like the sound of Kare and particularly his own definition of home. Gothenburg also has an appeal – might make it one day, especially with so many restaurants to visit

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