Introducing my guest blogger:
Just recently, my dear newly found old acquaintance friend Stina Almroth published a book about the Swedish tradition of fika. It is a beautiful book containing anecdotes that explain the deep meaning and importance of this very Swedish tradition of fika. I am honored that she has chosen to be my guest blogger today. The book has already won awards: Swedish winner of Gourmand Award in the “Coffee” category.
The book is also the winner in the category “Ceremonial meals” in the Meal Academy’s competition 2020. At the end of this post, you will find information about ordering the book worldwide and in Sweden.
Thank you, Paki, for this opportunity to be a guest on your blog! I am delighted that you resurfaced in my life and that it was Rotary that, in a way, was responsible! We met the first time when I came to Södertälje with a group of Indian women entrepreneurs as part of an exchange program that Nyföretagarcentrum in Södertälje was the host for.
India also plays a role in my fika journey as it was there that I had what almost seemed like an epiphany, that fika is a Swedish cultural treasure that the rest of the world must learn about. That thought can be traced back to my love for baking. I have baked since I was a child, as many Swedish children. And wherever in the world I lived, I found a way to bake.
My Indian friends and colleagues persistently suggested that I open a bakery, and this got me started thinking about Swedish pastries. Not that I seriously entertained the idea of a bakery, but from Swedish pastries, my thoughts shifted to everything around our pastry eating and coffee drinking, namely fika.
I got very excited and decided in the same moment that I was going to see to it that the world found out about fika. As I saw it there was now a “higher purpose” to my starting a bakery. However, despite learning all about bakeries, I had to admit to myself one day that I did not have in me what it took to start a bakery. That is when I decided that I would write a book about fika. In retrospect, the book was the better idea anyway.
If I was excited that first time when I consciously thought about fika, I am only more so after having written the book. What especially struck me after I had finished the first draft was how incredibly SWEDISH fika is. I wanted to convey that in the title. It was my son, Felix, who, in a WhatsApp call from the US, finally came up with the book’s title: Fika: Made in Sweden. An Italian friend who immediately understood what I mean said, “So, fika is like a window into Swedish Society!”
I am afraid Swedes do not have a reputation for being very warm and social people. We even subscribe to that view ourselves. Therefore, I was quite happy when I understood that this perception is false. We do have our way of being warm, caring, and social – through fika. An Australian-based Indian “sociologist of money” understood fika as the Swedes’ “currency of care”. Fika is about love, actually.
While there is a lot to say about the role of fika in Sweden, there is also an amazing amount to tell when it comes to the pastries. Since we are in December, the season for saffron buns, I’d love to tell you about them. Because yes, in Sweden, pastries have seasons. So strict that there are right and wrong seasons for certain kinds of pastries. Saffron buns, yellow from the saffron in the dough, are one of those kinds. We bake and eat them only in December, often in the form of s-shaped tlussekatter.
As an illustration of how strictly we adhere to the pastry seasons, let me share the experience of the Egyptian engineering student who rented a room from a friend of mine. Having never had to cook for himself, dinner was a problem for him at first. Until he discovered saffron buns, which became his staple. However, after Christmas, he returned from the supermarket, all bewildered as he had been unable to find ANY saffron buns. My friend informed him that there would not be any until the following Christmas. The student saw only one solution. He learned to bake saffron buns himself!
The book is in English, and can you can order it worldwide:
ORDERS – INTERNATIONAL, free shipping worldwide:
ORDERS – SWEDEN:
You can also watch the digital book-release on her YouTube channel