In 2011, Norwegian researchers published in Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious journals, a map of the cod’s genes. The cod is “ours”. For centuries it has given livelihood for people along the entire Norwegian coastline, including my own grandfather that exported salted, dried cod to Portugal and Brazil. It was therefore a big surprise when the researchers discovered that the cod lacks genes for HLA class II molecules. Continue reading
One of the cosiest things I like to do before Christmas is to make pomander balls. Their smell of cloves and orange is so pleasant. They are easy to make, also for those with less well-developed fine motor skills. In addition, the orange balls with brown dots looks lovely, hanging in the window frame. In fact, they have some resemblance to virus particles. Continue reading
Recipes for cream cakes often go down through Norwegian families. The exact combination of filling and decoration can vary substantially from family to family. But no one is ever in doubt that the result is cream cake, nor that the cake looks yummy. Continue reading
I love picking mushrooms, especially funnel chanterelles. They are small, brown and easy to recognize on their yellow, slightly angular stem, which is hollow from the hat down to the root. In addition the gills under the cap extends down the stem. Yet, in recent years I have become more careful when I pick and clean the funnel chanterelles. Continue reading
I was 13 when my grandma taught me how to bake cream puffs. Puffs are these round, hollow and slightly crispy pastries that can be filled with cream. I was an eager teenager housewife and she was an experienced baker. Nevertheless, the first round of puffs turned out a failure. The puffs did not rise, the dough had been too hot. That day I learned that some recipes must be followed to the letter, else it will not work.
When my boyfriend finally returned from Africa in 1989, two years of intense letter writing came to an end. I had written about my life as a budding researcher, he about his life as a volunteer in the bush. Still I became a bit puzzled the morning of our reunion in Paris, when he after a night in a cheap hotel bed announced that he had dreamt that we were competing peptides in the HLA groove!
Although I am an omnivore, I must have dairy butter on my morning sandwich, otherwise I lose my appetite. Similarly, the Norwegian dulce de leche type spread “Hapå” is according the Nestlé advertisment an effective means to get the kids to eat their sandwiches.
The macrophages behave a bit in the same way. They eat everything, but it helps a lot if a bacterium is covered with “Hapå”. It then goes down a lot faster.
I still remember the disappointment in 2002 when it became clear that humans had no more than 25,000 genes, about as many genes as a mouse! And with this very limited number of genes, we shall in addition to everything else, also be ready to defend ourselves against any possible unknown intruder?
I am very fond of food and eat just about everything. Maybe that’s why I’m so fascinated by the immune system’s big eaters?