I have good and bad news: There will be no solid Nobel banquet in Stockholm City Hall on December 10 this year. For Alfred Nobel himself, however, this would be very good news. He hated big dinners and festivities, including for the waste it entailed.
We have to go back to the war years 1940-45 to find the last time the banquet was canceled. This despite the fact that the Swedish king Gustav V had a beating heart for the German side of the conflict. The money set aside for the banquet went to the Red Cross' humanitarian work, which was led by the king's nephew, Folke Bernadotte. Undoubtedly, it was a use of Nobel money that without comparison harmonizes best with Nobel's will. But the will of Nobel, per se, has, as is well known, never been any further relevant basis in this context.
Mother Teresa refused to attend a luxury dinner at the Grand Hotel in Oslo.
Here, however, the awarding of the Peace Prize to Mother Teresa in 1979 should be mentioned, since the main character refused to attend a luxury dinner at the Grand Hotel in Oslo. Instead, she received $ 7000 to cover a Nobel dinner for the poor in Calcutta. It is all said to have gone peacefully. By the way, I have searched in vain for a legal basis in the Nobel will to spend money on gastronomy of this magnitude. However, rumors are that an envelope price of 5000 Swedish kroner will be paid by the individual guest. But I have not yet been confirmed whether to use the Tangen method on this occasion, where one can "represent" for example Statistics Norway or the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, to ease the party budget for themselves and, in this case, for the Nobel Foundation.
It is thus approaching Nobel party time. In Sweden as in Norway. As a long-term friend of Sweden, I have gradually received thorough confirmation that the "sweet brother" would rather forget that Norway was assigned a partial distributor role for Nobel's legacy. But what the nation of Sweden lost in attention and status when the peace prize awards floated west, they make up for with royal festivity for all the other prizes. It is this year's culinary and entertainment highlight for Swedish TV, the Swedish people as well as the Swedish nobility. But not this year.
I know what I'm talking about. Because I have eaten Nobel dinner with former Prime Minister Lisbet Palme at the table – several times even. In a way. In the stately Stockholm City Hall, you can, in fact, eat the Nobel food on private initiative throughout the year. My experienced hostess could also spice up the meal with funny stories from life with the Swedish king and former prime minister and other ministers – stories that the TV broadcast of the official Nobel dinners in the Blue Hall would never get hold of. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs Lena Hjelm-Wallén attended our simple ceremony, are iconic in my private catalog of anecdotes.
The banquets began in 1901 with 113 male diners, and have gradually grown to 1350 guests
But the Nobel dinner for 2020 has thus been canceled. The banquets began in 1901 with 113 male diners, and have gradually grown to 1350 guests in 2019 – of which 200 students from fashionable campuses in the capital.
Let me share my memories of the Nobel chefs' work with, for example, the 2013 menu, which was not a particularly bad year:
- Starter: Guinea fowl mosaic, carrot variation with Gotlandic truffle and chanterelle duxelle with truffle mayonnaise
- Main course: Lobster-filled turbot dome, tartlet with crayfish on cheese cream and spinach bed, lace bowl terrine, lobster sauce and almond mashed potatoes
- Dessert: Chocolate silhouette with nougat and sea buckthorn explosion
Last year, the Swedish master chef Sebastian Gibrand was responsible for the edible (see the menu here) with Swedish raw materials in the center as always: «I really want to highlight our Swedish unique products, our farmers. That we work from root to top on vegetables, to work with the whole products and not just take the best things. It will be a very Swedish dinner with a little international touch in the seasoning ", Gibrand told Aftonbladet.
25 carnations from Italy
Equal attention was paid to the entertainment. It was of course also Swedish: Swedish song tradition with Vreeswijk, Taube and Thåström. The evening's solo artists were Swedish Lisa Nilsson and Magnus Carlson accompanied by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra under the theme «The earth we inherited». Director of Visit Sweden, Ewa Lagerqvist, could only smile at the editing of this year's Swedish marketing event.
It was sustainability and the environment that were at the center, that is, in 2019. Not surprisingly, then, that the 25 carnations (Alfred's lovely flower) that adorned the Blue Hall and the Golden Hall, were composed for the theme «the interaction between man and nature, the natural the cycle and our seasons ». By the way, they were a gift, as usual, airborne from the city of San Remo in Italy, where Alfred Nobel lived his last years.
The Bonnies and the Wallenbergs
A lot has happened since the first Nobel banquet with 113 men around the table. We could add to the list of Swedish participants, from the Swedish royal house, Swedish nobility, Swedish industry, Swedish trade, Swedish politicians – and the 200 Swedish students – not forgetting that now Swedish women are also included, and not just in the Swedish City Hall kitchen.
And if we had known, we would have mentioned what the money for the non-held party will go to. But we can mention that a feast for the Syrians at the beaches in Moria camps would be able to draw Swedish media and newspaper headlines and show that the humanitarian superpower Sweden delivers when the world shouts. The flower gift from San Remo would definitely qualify as "short-haul", so that the environmental flag can be hoisted again. And the Bonniers and the Wallenbergs and the Social Democrats can once again toast the Nobel's memory.
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