Having grown up in the upper midwest I am accustomed to having relatives, friends and neighbors who have Scandinavian backgrounds; and who typically adhere to the customs of the old country including sometimes speaking the language of their ancestors.
I know I can sometimes be parochial; I was surprised to learn of a thriving pocket of Scandinavians located in near Santa Barbara, CA. The town of Solvang, CA is just such a place. The community is comprised of Danes, Norwegians, and some Swedes too. These folks have shrewdly developed a tourist enclave that sells culturally specific wares made both locally and in their mother countries.
We spent the better part of a day wandering from shop to shop looking at art, jewelry and other products produced under a Scandinavian country’s banner–particularly Denmark. As I am wont to do I chatted up many of sales workers as we traipsed through the town. Turns out many have some Minnesota familial connections–in towns or on farms near places like Bemidji, Kenyon and Uland MN.
Perhaps the most popular industries in Solvang are food related- bakeries and restaurants. The bakeries sell every type of Scandinavian cookie (often by the pail) and pastry that we see here in Minnesota; the restaurants offer tasty delicacies that rival what we have back home as well. In fact, we lunched on pancakes at Paula’s Pancake House that were scrumptious. The homemade whipped cream was to die for–seriously!
All in all, we had a wonderful time: