One of the preoccupations of this season in America, Epp's third Christmas here, has been finding her the necessary blood sausage to satiate her need for something festive. Blood sausages, or verivorstid, are the main course at most Estonian Christmas Eve dinners, and they are basically blood, barley, and leftover animal parts mixed into an intestine and served with a little jam. Like any food, if you bake it enough and add enough salt (or jam) it tastes Ok, and it sure beats Danish medister (a nasty sausage I wound up consuming) and Dutch Filet Americain (which has nothing to do with America and is in fact, seasoned raw meat).
And so, to make my Eesti Naine comfy in our gluttonous homeland where she regularly is forced to consume large quantities of olive oil and garlic, I made sure I picked up $28 worth of blood sausage at the Estonian House on 34th Street. I asked the Finnish lady selling them why they were so expensive and she just whispered "because they are so good." R-i-i-ight.
Anyway those were gone the next day. We (meaning my wife) ate them all. They were good too, just as the Finnish lady had promised. But in an effort to make our Eesti Naine feel more at home my mother attempted to procure some of the mysterious sausages from a German deli on Long Island. I was then asked what kind she prefered - "rice or oats" - "snouts or no snouts." I chose oats and no snouts. The thought of biting into a sausage with a nostril in it was a bit much. It could have even spoiled Christmas!
But when she cooked them up they weren't that good. Irish blood sausages. It figures that they would suck, given the reputation of Irish food. Have you ever seen an "Irish breakfast"? Runny eggs, Heniz baked beans strait out of the can, some fatty bacon, and soggy toast. And murky tea. Luck of the Irish.
Why is it that people from rainy cand cold climates eat gross stuff? The Inuit eat raw seal blubber, the Icelanders fermented whale meat, the Scots have their haggis, and the Estonians, well, they have their jellied sült, salt porridge, and herring. Yum yum. I hate to say it, but Greek food is much better. Turkish food? Better. Indian food? Way better.
Now on to Falck. Did it ever freak you out that much of the security in Estonia is handled by faceless guards wearing uniforms with the name Falck on it that are wholly private, ie. not really accountable to the government? I know that Estonia is supposedly the right-wingers' flat tax paradise, but is a private police force part of that ideal? Falck is everywhere in Tallinn, so common they are easily confused with the regular police. But there's more...As I did not know until a few minutes ago, Falck is actually a Danish company. Here read for yourself:
Falck is a Nordic-based organisation that provides assistance, rescue, healthcare and training to the public sector, private members, business subscribers, insurance companies, pension companies and international clients. The company ambition over the next few years is to develop Falck into a pan-European organisation, and to achieve global status in certain sectors.
One day in South Tallinn we were stopped by Falck and taken off the bus we were traveling on for not having punched tickets. Then we were loaded into a van near the bus stop where we were forced to endure about half an hour of verbal barrage from Sirje, the crazy Falck "officer" who said she had seen Epp before and that she was lying to her that she hadn't. (It was totally nuts..surreal!). I personally received a write-up because I refused to sign any paper they gave me because I didn't know what my "charge" was (I get really legalistic and can be a real asshole when I am in trouble with the law). In the end I wrote a nasty letter to the organization about the employees' behavior, and got off free, but - how sketchy is that? Sure Falck didn't beat me up and leave me in a ditch, but, having been to Mexico where the police drive around in the back of flat bed trucks with machine guns and beat the hell out of people they don't like - you've got to wonder, what can Falck get away with? The Estonian police department is under regular press scrutiny - I mean police chief Robert Antropov had to step down because he improperly drove his parents around in a police vehicle - but who is looking after the mysterious, multinational police force Falck? I'd just like to know...