Well, it has been a shameful 22 months since I last posted! My excuses: finalizing (so I thought) my PhD manuscript, pregnancy and motherhood. Maternity leave finishes shortly and I will return to the first ‘excuse’, finishing my manuscript on my own time. The second and third ‘excuses’, which incidentally bring an immediate smile to my face, have been pure pleasure.
The inspiration for hitting the keyboard again today has been my mothers’ group that I joined in the latter stage of my leave. The ladies are a group of extremely creative, intelligent, fun-loving mummies and have been so wonderful to have around for many reasons.
I am now qualified to say that there is nothing like having a baby to make one starkly aware of ones own values, identity and culture. In Denmark, the social system provides new mums with a health visitor at various intervals during the child’s first few years. She also puts them in touch with other women who have given birth around the same time to form a ‘mother’s group’. I asked that I be put into a Danish speaking group= as, since being in Denmark, I have never consciously sought out English people or foreigners (despite my friendship circle being distinctly multinational). I like being a ‘local’ foreigner. Our Danish-speaking group unfortunately just did not gel and after two or three months I decided to leave it. At the meet-ups I did attend, I realized how entirely differently I interacted with G compared to the others, and that I was not going to find the empathy I needed from such a group largely, I felt, because of cultural differences.
For the first time in my 14 years in Denmark I decided to look for an English-speaking group to socialize with. I needed to find mums with whom I had more in common. I had a brief look on line, and, coincidentally the following day, I met a British woman on the bus I had encountered once before at Torvehallerne. She approached me both times as she has her own company selling products for people with natural hair. We got chatting as we realized our babies were about the same age, and she invited me to her next mother’s group meeting that she would be hosting at her apartment in the city. The group was international and English-speaking with mummies from UK, South Africa, France, Hungary, Germany, Turkey and the US. I went and had a lovely couple of hours with the ladies who were able to attend. I left that day with a feeling that as well as receiving the maternal support, I may also form some new friendships.
Since then it has been Felicity (UK), Cathy (UK), Sez (SA) and their respective little bubbas who I have spent most time with. Both G and I have benefited equally from having them in our lives. It suddenly seemed so much easier and comfortable to chat about the ups and downs of it all. I had been missing interaction with mummies who were culturally similar to me. The need for that Anglo-Saxon input was a complete surprise.
Apart from this nationality-based cultural similarity, Fliss, Cathy and Sez are also all freelancers or rather independent professionals. Felicity works in media, Cathy a journalist and Sez is currently starting up her own business restoring and selling vintage jewellery and clothing. Does it take a certain ‘type’ to be freelance? I don’t know what ‘type’ it is, but for sure it is not for everyone, and, more to the point, it meant that there was another major aspect of life (work) where there was greater understanding. Another common thread is our love for second-hand items – from baby clothes and toys, to furnishings and (as far as I gather) good quality clothing too. That’s not to say there isn’t any impartiality among us to luxury items in the same categories too!
Cultural similarity is absolutely unnecessary in order to form friendships and relationships in my world, but thankfully when I needed to find it, it came around easily. Sure, a lot of luck was involved, but I have always said that one of the great things about Copenhagen is that it is a big village and so very easy to find what you are looking for. Making these families’ acquaintance and G having some babies to play with in the run up to starting at day care has been invaluable.
Thank you ladies & babies for your support and friendship thus far!
My recipe this time is the main dish I prepared for the lunch one Friday with the mummies. One of them has already made it for herself and partner and said it was a hit! I literally put this together with the leftover ingredients we happened to have in the fridge. I am not writing the measurements as I think you should just put as much or as little of each in as suits your taste …
Prawn Rice Salad
- Cooked and refrigerated basmati rice
- Prawns (I used the peeled and cooked ones you buy in the plastic container, but good quality frozen cooked ones, or even better freshly peeled ones will work. Just make sure you defrost naturally and squeeze a bit of the water out of the frozen ones)
- Gem lettuce
- Fish sauce
- Fresh small hot chillies
How to make it
- Mix your rice and cooked prawns together using a metal spoon. I used a little bit of the water that the prawns were in as well.
- Chop and add the coriander – not too finely as you want to be able to taste the leaves without overpowering the whole dish. I use the stalks as well.
- For a good large portion for four people, I only used half a gem lettuce – cut it lengthways and then slice it finely from top to bottom.
- Grate and add the cucumber – I used about half a medium sized one.
- Slice the chillies, not too finely, and add them to some fish sauce to use as a dressing on the side.
- If I had had any on the shelf, I would have added a splash of sesame oil to the rice, but it is delicious and fresh without any additional dressing or seasoning.