In Sweden we like to Fika
There is no good word in English for “Fika”. The closest we can think of is “have some coffee”. In Sweden we “fikar” everyday, at least once a day but usually several times. If you go shopping, meet friends, just hang out or when you’re at work, in school, on your first date and especially when you visit someone you always fika, otherwise you haven’t really seen each other. Fika is a very important part of the Swedish culture. We would like to describe fika as a simple way to hang out, see each other and to keep up. Usually you drink coffee or tea together with something to nibble on. In Sweden we love sweet things like all kind of buns, chocolate cake, cheese cake, cookies etcetera… MMmmmm-MMmmm!!! But you can also fika with ice-cream as well as a sandwich or a smaller lunch, or anything you like.
At work you have fika at definite times, also known as breaks. If you miss the fika, you haven’t really had a break. At work you usually have “fika-breaks” twice a day. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t like your boss. If you want to make friends with your colleges, it’s a good idea to learn how they would like their coffee or tea.
When you go on your first date, you probably go and take a fika at a cozy café. This is a relaxing thing to do as a first date. It’s not too serious, not too fancy and you can be yourself and wear what you like, it’s totally acceptable and very common for most of people to start or end a date with a fika.
When you visit someone fika is expected. It is impolite if the guest isn’t offered fika. The most popular thing to treat at home is homemade “kanelbulle”. “Kanelbulle” is a cinnamon bun with crushed loaf suger on the top. It’s very common that Swedes have some buns in the freezer, in case of fika.
Now in Christmas time we love to drink “glögg” and eat “pepparkakor”, “lussekatter” and homemade sweets like fudge. Glögg is a hot drink with cinnamon, ginger, clove and some other spices. It’s very sweet and there is glögg with our without alcohol. In France they drink hot red wine at Christmas time and it looks very similar to our Swedish glögg, but the taste is totally different. Once on a Christmas market in France, a couple of Swedish girls served glögg, but the French people thought, of course, that it was hot wine. Once they tasted it, they had a terrible shock. For them who were prepared for the HOT WINE, the sweet and spicy taste of glögg was absolutely dreadful! We believe that glögg is only popular in Sweden and perhaps also Norway. (If you have tasted something like glögg, you must tell us!)
(“Lussekatter” is saffron-flavored buns with two raisins on the top. “Pepparkaka” is like ginger cookies but it tastes much better! Back in time people believed that “pepparkaka” was very salubrious to eat because of all the spices in it. But nowadays we know a little bit better and we eat it just because it tastes so good.)
The normal way for Swedes to make a cup of coffee is to brew it in a special way. The secret is to add the same amount tablespoons of the grind coffee bean as you add cups of water. This is what we call Swedish coffee even though there’s no such thing. We like to drink our coffee with milk, sugar or just the way it is.
We, like the English, also love tea! Earl Grey is a Swedish favorite as well as our own “Gute”-tea from the Swedish island Gotland. But green tea as well as red and white are becoming more and more popular.
When you visit Sweden don’t forget to take a fika, otherwise you haven’t really been here!
Greetings from Karin Myring and Therese Hansen