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THE IMPORTANCE OF SWEDISH FIKA

IN THE GALLEY

A freshly baked batch of kanelbullar made by #4, my youngest son.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SWEDISH FIKA

If I were to venture a guess, I’d say that this is probably the most common, and popular, nibble for a fika. Personally, I’ve always believed that kids need siblings, pets, and kanelbullar, so I used to make huge batches to fill up the freezer every Sunday when the kids were still kids. With buns, that is. I swear, no pets or kids were ever frozen.

Someone (I can’t remember who) once said that the most important four-letter word in the Swedish language is neither ABBA nor IKEA. It’s FIKA. As a Swede by birth and old habit I wholeheartedly approve of this message.

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Swedish people, much like our British cousins a few times removed, are very good at playing with words. Fika is an example of this. See, most Swedes would agree that any fika worthy of the name begins with coffee. (For the record, I am not of this persuasion.) Coffee is kaffe in Swedish, and it sounds like some variant of caff-feh depending on where in the country you are. Down south, it can sound almost like kaf-fi, or koffie as the Dutch say, and that’s where we get fika from. Simply put, the word is formed by a backslang of the syllables in kaf-fi. But what does it mean?

Well, fika is the time we take, normally at least once a day, to gather together around a table or any flat surface of your choice, to enjoy a (hot) beverage, a nibble of some kind, and a good old chinwag with friends, family, neighbours, colleagues or anyone close at hand really.

Any flat surface will do when it’s time for a fika, even a chopping block in the back garden.

Some people seem to think that the beverage or the nibbles need to be of a certain kind, but that’s just a load of hogwash. The whole point of the fika is to take a break and socialise with the people around you.

Fun fact: Fika can both be a noun and a verb. Engaging in the act of having fika is to fika. And whatever you’re consuming while you’re having fika is the fika. Simples!

In my family, we have tre-fika, three o’clock fika, and whoever is at home or around at that time will stop what they are doing to join in. In some families, it’s the same person who organises the fika every day, and in others you take turns. We tend to pop the kettle on and load up the percolator for the coffee drinkers, and then people bring their own nibbles for a mini potluck.

There’s no hard and fast rule to how many fika you can have in a day. Many families have two or three. One in between breakfast and lunch, one in between lunch and dinner and a final one, the kvällsfika, in the evening. Each fika can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. Fika before lunch is often a quick fix, and I do believe it’s mainly the coffee drinkers who need their caffeine fix who have an early break. Afternoon fika may take 15-30 minutes, longer if you have time or finfrämmande, aka prominent guests. Evening fika is often a routine to get the kids to slow down before bed and give the family a chance to sit and sum up the day together. The time you spend on fika is actually irrelevant. It’s the connection that matters.

Fun fact 2: Swedish people drink more coffee than almost all other people in the world. I think it’s only the Finns and the Dutch that have us beat in this national sport. I’m almost surprised no one has petitioned the Olympic Committee to add coffee consumption as a new combined summer and winter discipline yet.

ABOUT LINNEA

Linnea Lucifer is the Captain of the imaginary, yet very real, pirate ship Resilience and her merry crew of indie authors. But that is not all – amateur liar, weaver of stories, peddler of merch, lifelong spoonie, ancient dragon lady and Maddox Rhinehart’s irreverent pet are a few more words often used to describe the bearer of many names.

The Captain, who was named after a delicate little flower that grows in mossy, Swedish pine forests, and a certain fiery fallen angel, spends most of her days daydreaming and writing fantasy, smut and painfully crappy poems. She takes great pleasure in everything that tickles the senses and adds a sprinkle of magic and spice to our world.

Linnea writes fantasy rooted in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore under the pen name Saga Linnea Söderberg. She writes sweet’n’spicy spoonie smut together with Leto Armitage under the joint pen name Linn Rhinehart. As Evalena Styf, she’s known as a knowsy roll model and prolific content creator. She’s also a retired writing coach, editor and graphic designer.


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