When I was young, my parents hired a bunch of au pairs to take care of my siblings and me while they were at work. They came from all over Europe: Spain, Sweden, Germany, Holland. Does that seem like a lot? It is. Technically, they were each supposed to stay for a year, but my two brothers and I were never “easy” children, so any given au pair lasted for a maximum of six months before she sent herself back to her home country.
That is, all but one: a Norwegian woman who not only lasted the full year, but somehow even liked us. After she left, she would faithfully write us letters (imagine the pure joy of receiving an airmail envelope when you are eight-years-old) and, better yet, send us Christmas care packages every year. It didn’t matter that we were Jewish. No dreidel-wrapped toy could compare to our annual Norwegian God Jul bag of marshmallow ropes, caviar in a toothpaste tube (for one brother who adored the stuff), and cartons of licorice all-sorts (which none of us touched).
Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, my family still keeps in touch with this babysitter, and I’ve always felt a sort of kinship to Norway because of her. In fact, one of the things that drew me to N. when we first met was that he has a research fellowship in the same Norwegian city where she is from. Coincidence? I think not. Okay, maybe.
So when I heard about Bakeri, a bake shop opened by a Norwegian, whose name means “bakery” in Norwegian and which stocks treats like Fjørd bread (a loaf chock full of imported whole grains) and skolebrød, I couldn’t wait to check it out.