Are lingonberries and cloudberries the same thing and what do they taste like?
Lingonberries and Cloudberries are from the same family and are typically served in Sweden and Norway. Lingonberries are slightly bitter and tend to be served as a condiment with savoury dishes. The most typical is meatballs with lingonberry although they're good with venison and gamey meat. Cloudberries are much sweeter and are usually served as a dessert, sometimes as a mousse or a parfait. There are also some wonderful chocolates with cloudberry liqueur filling available in Norway and it goes very well in jam.
They're eaten in Finland as well.
They don't seem to be very close relatives. Lingonberries are related to cranberries (and bilberries, which are a bit like blueberries), though they're smaller and taste a bit different, though they are about as unsweet as cranberries. They're juicier, I think. Cloudberries are related to raspberries and look like yellow raspberries, their taste is very different though and I don't really know anything else that tastes like that. Very nice but as they only grow in certain places they are very expensive.
Lingonberries grow in most places here, like in the woods near where I live (in Finland you can pick berries and mushrooms everywhere, provided that you aren't too close to a house), though picking them is so dull that I buy them from market, 10 litres is about 20 to 30 euros. In contrast a small container of cloudberries is something like 6 or 7 euros. I have a huge glass jar of crushed lingonberries in my fridge, they contain some preservative that makes them last long, you can eat last autumn's lingonberries in March and they'll be fine, spending the winter under snow just makes them better. I eat them like I eat all my berries (I buy strawberries and pick bilberries and wild raspberries), at breakfast with plain yoghurt and some banana (that is not a traditional use). Other people may use them with meat dishes and when I was a child I used to eat them with blood pancakes (which I wouldn't eat these days).
My stepmother is from Lapland, where cloudberries (and cranberries) are more common, the best places are well kept secrets and part of her inheritance is a hillasuo, a marsh with cloudberries.
Sankta Lucia is a big part of Finnish Swedish speaking culture as well and even in my primary school without any Swedish speakers we still celebrated it with a parade, I was once one of Lucia's attendants (because I was a tall child). These days the crowns tend to have electric candles, I think.
I have a few questions:
I've done some baking from American recipes and I've noticed that the results seem to be less sweet than what we would make here. Is that true or is it just the result of substituting American ingredients badly?
Do towns have markets squares? I think that they're probably common throughout Europe, though some places seem to have set market days. Here in some places the market is important part of shopping, in my town they start in maybe April and continue until it's too cold, they're still selling vegetables and fish and candy and things like that in November. And I think that every town here has a market place, even though sometimes they aren't very lively (it's one reason I like my current town so much).