Friday, April 03, 2020


I first came across semlor, that is, Swedish Lenten buns filled with marzipan and cream, in Dubai. It was March 2015, we were on the return leg from Australia. We stayed for a few days in a cheap hotel at the less developed end of Dubai Marina. The room was a suite, it was huge. In the dim stairwell we admired a gecko -- the yellow-bellied house gecko, probably.

When we dropped down into the Marina, the shop under the aparthotel was, of all things, a Swedish patisserie. It looked like they must cater mostly for big offices and hotels across Dubai, they were surprised to see a customer walk in off the street. And basically they were baking lots and lots of semlor. (All the staff were from India, I didn't see anyone who spoke Swedish.)

[Image source: ]

Having only ever been a summer visitor to my second homeland, I had never come across semlor. If they are anything to go by, then Lent Swedish-style is a long way from fasting.

Semlor didn't seem a very appropriate snack for a pleasant 25 degrees C on Dubai Marina, so I bought a punschroll, familiarly known as a dammsugare ("vacuum cleaner)" -- another marzipan cake, but without the fresh cream.

[Image source: ]

This one turned out to be a highly superior version.

Then we set off looking for lunch proper, which I seem to remember ended up being a fillet of salmon. We were a bit jet-lagged.

(But now I think more about it, I may be importing the superior punschroll into this story from another out-of-the-way Swedish bakery that I once visited in North Yorkshire.)


I regretted that I should go from the garden of the world empty-handed to my friends, and reflected: "Travellers bring sugar-candy from Egypt as a present to their friends. Although I have no candy, yet have I words that are sweeter. The sugar that I bring is not that which is eaten, but what knowers of truth take away with respect". (Saadi's Bustan, "On the Reason for the Writing of the Book"). 


SAT 14th March.

Got up in spacious new apartment at Pearl Marina (discovered balcony late last night). Came down to south end of Marina, looked at Nordic Crown Café then went to eat at Canvas -- delish and cheap, good menu -- while chasing sun from table to table. Sky blue & fresh.

Met up with Jazmin n Colin and taxid to Al Barsha Pond Park where there's a weekly food market. Ate lovely org red & yellow tomatoes under tent of lights, Indian mug and Anatolian beach towel & cinnamon scrub soap & mug mats -- sort of appliqué

Laura cooling down at Starbucks, JBR Mall. Laura had henna tattoo on her hand

administrative      idary    إداري

God I could do with a run round the block now . I'm not going down to the stupid beach . I didn't mean that, lovely beach


A wind blows rippling among
    the palm thorns.
croak in the plane
talks plainly of a
      better past
& a lizard races
   in the room
where they put the
   packing cases.
To know the sea
   you must be by the
or on it, to row upon
  the sea's


Not sure what I was reading by this stage. I'd finished Xenophon's Anabasis on the plane from Perth. Probably Robert Gray (Australian poet), Dodie Smith or a guide to Dubai. Probably I was just swimming in the lyricism of being here.

I had a small guitar with me. Laura played the harmonica. I was playing Wide Open Road, the Triffids song.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger