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Jeanine Fritz

OSLO, Norway -- Where food and a bald dude named Harald are king, the Olso borough of Grünerløkka seems designed to facilitate fresher grindage than I'm used to.

Veggie vendors and tiny mom'n'pop grocery stores sprout up on every block and the restaurant-to-retailer ratio is grossly in favor of cuisine.

I blame the refrigerators.

The weensy-teensy things look like two stacked dorm fridges. The upper compartment is a set of wee shelves virtually forcing you to go out and buy small amounts of fresh food every couple of days and then eat it. (The horror!)

Under the shelves are two drawers, which we've filled with mushrooms and cucumbers and Left Hand Brewery wheat beers smuggled in from Sweden.

But when it comes to the freezer, it's a good thing I can't find a lot of the stuff I used to maw in Boulder. Hungry Man meals, 100-count boxes of Otter Pops, the Big Girl bottle of Smirnoff -- none could find purchase in these diminutive cubbyholes.

And there aren't any ice trays.

I can give up the Otter Pops, but I need ice for morning and evening waters, midday coffee, the occasional Coke and Mamma's Havin' a Bad Day Crooked Waters.

I knew ice wasn't a big deal in Europe proper. But Zeppelin called Scandinavia "the land of the ice and snow." So you'd think a sister could find some of that in the kitchen.

And with the stress of relocating, I've needed Crooked Waters: a cup filled to the brim with ice, a splash of vodka, soda water nearing the brim and then a whisper of orange juice.


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I needed to stop, collaborate and listen -- and then get my ice back with a brand-new invention.

At a local shop, I found purple rubber trays, designed to create funky, stacked blocks, like Incan temples. But the little pyramids didn't want to pop out and after running hot water over their backsides, so I only yielded about 12 pea-sized bits.

Not gonna work.

Next up were little plastic bags to hang under the faucet. Once the little built-in pockets fill up, you tie the top of the bag, toss it in the freezer (taking up one-third of the space) and wait till your little pillows of ice are good to go. While fun, it's hard to enjoy Crooked Water when the bags go to a landfill or maybe into the water, choking some poor herring.

Desperate, I rolled up my sleeves and hit IKEA. No matter when you go, IKEA is like going to Target the week the University of Colorado students are back in town.

After elbowing my way through the labyrinth of lamps and chairs, I found ice trays. While there are no less than 50,000 sofas, IKEA figured four ice trays would do the job.

I bought two of them -- one that makes sticks of ice, which could be devastatingly cool, and one that had little fish shapes. They are now in the freezer, and when I get home, I'll do my little "Ice, Ice, Maybe" dance.

If there is a problem, yo, I'll solve it.

Boulder expatriate Jeanine Fritz's weekly musings on life and kitchenware in Norway appear in the Colorado Daily every Friday.