Monthly archives: February 2013
Saturdays, ah glorious beautiful Saturdays! A day for lie ins, for cooked breakfasts, for doing nothing (or doing everything), for simply watching the world pass by or for learning about bygone days.
Yesterday Oscar and I walked out to Djurgården, one of the fourteen islands making up Stockholm, that homes amongst several famous museums, the Royal Hunting Grounds! I love to walk! I love nature! I love being out in the cold! I love looking at glistening snow! I love pin drop silence! And I love to talk (a lot)! Our walk through the hunting grounds was just that! I’m always curious about what I see! The number of times I asked “Who is that statue of?” “What’s that building over there?” “Where did that come from?”…I’m sure, Oscar, if he wasn’t the nicest person I know, would have asked me to stop talking! Thankfully he didn’t and so I continued asking question after question! What we ended up with was a bit of a history lesson…
Anyone who has ever written about life in Sweden from a foreign perspective has surely noted the predominance of the coffee culture present here, but I’m not going to let that stop me from adding a few of my own comments on the subject. First of all, going into my transatlantic move I knew that Swedes have a reputation for drinking a ton of coffee. I didn’t think much of it because I know plenty of people in the US who drink a lot of coffee, including my parents and a few friends. For me, the big difference is not the fact that Swedes enjoy coffee, but rather the ways they prepare it and the lengths that they go to make sure they get it.
Fika technically means ‘to have coffee’ in Swedish, but the word carries a much higher level of importance than just the act of drinking coffee. From what I’ve observed and experienced, it’s more about the entire act of dropping everything you’re doing to meet up with your friends, coworkers, classmates, etc. to socialize while drinking coffee. If it’s a special occasion or you’re feeling particularly Swedish, then you’ll probably be eating some type of sweet roll or cake too. It’s pretty typical to fika at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon, so it’s a deeply ingrained tradition during the Swedish work day.
At my department we essentially have unlimited access to espresso and coffee. The people in charge of making these crucial decisions have chosen to devote a large amount of time and effort (and money) just to coffee, and I think everyone really appreciates it and is probably more productive/happy because of it. Concerning the regular coffee, we exclusively use a French press (aside: does everyone refer to this object as being French, or is this an exclusively American/English term?).
Earlier this year I decided to make that all important new-years resolution, to get into shape! I signed up to a local gym through the KI (thus with a discounted rate) and knowing that I’d committed myself financially I sure had to make the most it!
I don’t believe I’ve written it here before, but I know I’ve said it in real life more than anyone cares to hear: traditional Swedish food is, in my opinion, bland. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not necessarily bad, just a little too straightforward and often lacking in the seasoning department. HOWEVER, before all of the locals start gathering up their torches and pitchforks, I should mention that the one big exception to this rule for me is dessert. And the best part of dessert is that Swedes are normally great at creating excuses to eat it. Aside from the standard daily afternoon coffee break (fika), there are holidays with specific desserts assigned to them. Last week was Fat Tuesday (Fettisdagen), and semla is the dessert of the day (and entire month it seems in reality). The semla is a cardamom-spiced bun with marzipan and whipped cream on the inside – basically a Scandinavian take on the donut. The semla is probably my favorite Swedish pastry to date; in my opinion, it’s slightly better than the standard cinnamon bun and definitely better than the Lucia-inspired saffron buns.