The climate this far north of the arctic circle isn’t suitable for growing very much. In the summer there’s a good rhubarb harvest – locals tend to grow it for its appearance, rather than its taste – and we’re blessed with many wild berries out in the fjäll areas. There isn’t much else grown around here though. In the winter production focuses mainly on produce which is white, flaky, icy, or powdery.
Some kinds of snow tinsel grow well in mid-winter conditions here. After a period of slight humidity, snowfall, and then sudden intense cold, this kind of tinsel grows readily on the trees. We try not to disturb it until February when we collect it in large wicker baskets, pack it up carefully in frozen containers, and then sell it as a tree decoration for Christmas next year.
It’s also been a good year for snow mallows. These benefit from cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, and strong circular winds. Every year we set aside an area of land especially for them and they don’t need much encouragement to get going.
The snow mallow resembles a marshmallow (hence the name), only in this part of the world they’re much larger, softer, more sumptuous. You begin to see their swirly peaks pushing up early in January and then they continue to spread and grow for several weeks before we harvest them towards the end of the month.
Snow mallows grow wild in large numbers outside the town, where they’re usually left to grow undisturbed and can spread out to over 20 metres before shrinking again and dissolving in the warmer weather.
Snow mallows have diverse uses in cooking and baking, but we use them for cake decoration mainly. (See following recipe.)
Take two smooth, rolling hills,
and smother in layers of soft white snow,
folding gently until stiff peaks form.
Allow the mixture to marshmallow out, slowly.
Sprinkle with birch twigs and sticky pine, and chill
under a dark and pulsing sky.
Cook a ball of gas, seven parts hydrogen
to three parts helium, heat to sixteen million
degrees, and reduce, to a cerise and tangerine sauce.
Pour in thick syrupy dollops, and serve
before the hills melt.