I’ll admit it. I first learned about Fika reading the back of a table stand in the cafe at IKEA in RoundRock. But, I liked what I read and wanted to read more. Fika is a slippery word that the Swedes would prefer we not translate. It can mean both the act of gathering for a coffee break and the gathering itself, as well as the treats consumed at the coffee break, often cinnamon rolls.
Given that my wife is of Scandinavian extraction, it was quickly obvious that her penchant for having a cup of coffee with a sweet roll at 3pm, learned at her mother’s knee, was a legitimate expression of the desire to Fika. I introduced the term, explained that we could say “when is Fika” and “shall we Fika” and “where did you put the Fika” or “is the FIka ready to come out of the oven”. I work hard to arrange my day so that I can take a break around 3pm to spend 30 minutes or so enjoying Fika with her at home before turning back to wrap up my workday answering emails and sending from my laptop.
I seriously learned to enjoy the community side of Fika when I visited my friends on the Faroe Islands. While not Swedish in heritage (the Faroes are a Danish protectorate but the people are mixed Norwegian and Scottish by DNA evidence) the families there will quickly pull out the accoutrement for FIka the moment the spirit strikes us. In fact, during my second visit, last spring, I followed my friend along to a neighbor’s house for a nationwide charity event (with 50,000 people it is easier to make something nationwide) roughly translated as “coffee with neighbors”. We put money in her gaily decorated cannister and sat down to chat with a changing stream of folks who were wandering from house to house, leaving their donation at each house in appreciation of the value of neighborliness. One speciality of Fika in the Faroes isn’t the cinnamon roll but a sort of apple based trifle/tart situation with a meringue top, which is hard to describe. The most typical treat, however, enjoyed in homes, outside sheep barns and on benches by the sea are waffles (Valflur) and jam. Here is a recipe from a book of new Nordic cuisine by Magnus Nilsson called the The Nordic Cookbook.
The little spoons they used at Fika are perfect for enjoying both coffee and Fika of all variety and so I have since acquired a dozen of these (also perfect for soft boiled eggs).
All this means that when a work colleague introduced FIka at work, a weekly gathering with treats brought from home enjoyed by whomever takes the time to stop, I knew my life was full-circle.
I don’t have any art today, I am sorry to say. I chose Fika as a topic in part to take a little break and gather myself. I have a nice plan for the next 10 days, so look forward to that.