Saturday, 5 June 2010

Weekend Cooking: Fika

Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish at Beth Fish Reads and it is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

luftslottet som sprängdes So it seems that the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy came out in the US in the past week. I found this article in the New York Times. The author of the article comments on the drinking of coffee:

“Larsson’s is a dark, nearly humorless world, where everyone works fervidly into the night and swills tons of coffee; hardly a page goes by without someone “switching on the coffee machine,” ordering “coffee and a sandwich” or responding affirmatively to the offer “Coffee?”

I haven’t read the translation so I don’t know if it is a translation issue or not, but when reading the original I did not notice the incessant coffee drinking that the article author comments on. I was thinking about it and I wonder if it is a cultural thing. Swede’s drink the most coffee per capita in the world (according to some sources, others have us at fourth). Talking it over with some co-workers and family members we came to the conclusion that the most uttered phrase during the day is “ska vi ta en kaffe (shall we have a coffee)” or “nä nu tar vi en kaffe (let’s have a coffee)”.

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These phrases (or variations thereof) are uttered at least once an hour, around 9am and 2pm they are probably uttered at every single place of work around the country. So the “verbal tic” isn’t noticed by use Swede’s because we suffer from the same tic. We all utter that phrase, weather we drink coffee or not (and if we don’t say kaffe, then we say fika which is the best thing ever).

Fika is really the cup of coffee with something to eat. The something to eat can be a sandwich (open faced usually), or a cinnamon bun or seven types of cookies (which was the minimum amount of cookies that could be served at polite afternoon coffee soirees). But fika is much more than the foods served. It is a time when you sit down and talk. It is about relaxing and enjoying the company of those around you. It is our version of the water cooler.

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Traditionally the coffee here is drunk black, often with a sugar lump (or four), some people also add a bit of milk or cream. However, the fancy latte is growing especially amongst the younger crowd (I prefer a latte to a black coffee). But coffee is almost always drunk.

So for those of you who were annoyed, or merely found it confusing, when Mikael and his colleagues had a coffee and a sandwich at every turn, I hope this helps to explain that it wasn’t necessarily a tic with the writer, but rather a way of life for most of us 9 million Swedes. We like our fika! :D

If you are interested in Swedish baking and recipes I suggest you check out Anne’s Food which is one of my favourite food bloggers. She is a Swedish girl but she blogs in English. 


Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North.clip_image001This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Beth F said...

Okay, two things: I now know why I loved the books -- let's have a coffee is high on my list of common phrases. And one of the things I loved about Denmark was the wonderful full-bodied coffee you get get everywhere. I have always wanted to go to Sweden, and I have a feeling I'll feel right at home.

Nise' said...

The third book it on its way to me and now I am going to be aware of the coffee drinking going on! LOL

Not a coffee drinker myself, love the smell of it, but do not like the taste.

Zee said...

Beth~~I am sure you will love the coffee here. Swedes often bring their own coffee when traveling, at least to the UK. It is hilarious. I also think you would love Sweden!

Nise'~~I didn't notice it myself but I read the article and I also read a blog post I can't find now that complained about all the coffee drinking. Then all of a sudden it struck me why I didn't notice it :D I hope you will enjoy the book. It is really good!

Kristen M. said...

I probably wouldn't notice either -- being from Seattle. :) Although I do think we need a word like fika!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post!! I'll be checking out "Anne's Food"!

JoAnn said...

How interesting - I like the fika concept! Still need to read the books though...

Heather said...

I much prefer your version of having coffee. It should be a social thing. It seems to make the coffee taste better. Drinking a cup alone is just not the same and it doesn't go down as well.

I prefer my coffee black unless I make it a capuccino and then it needs sugar.

Rikki said...

I have one Larsson book on my TBR pile and will watch out for the coffee drinking habits. I don't think I'd be surprised though because in Germany people have coffees all the time, too. "Shall we go for a coffee?" is a standard phrase over here, too.

caite said...

I loved all three books, but I can't say I noticed the coffee issue.
Now Lizbeth and those frozen pizzas....