Before visiting Sweden a few weeks ago, I’d heard about their ample vacation time, generous maternity/paternity leave, and government-funded healthcare. What I hadn’t heard about may just be the best of all: fika.
A twice-daily coffee and pastry session centered around socializing, fika (that’s a noun and a verb) is a tradition that constitutes taking a break in the morning and the afternoon for something sweet to eat as well as a beverage — usually coffee, but tea and other drinks work (my favorite: hot chocolate). Cinnamon rolls are a popular option, as are cakes, cookies, biscuits, and pretty much anything with sugar as a key ingredient.
I was so enthusiastic about fika-ing, in fact, that I made myself ill — beware; what looks like a plain biscuit with a chocolate topping is actually filled with decadent chocolate mousse. Pair that with a chocolate drink, and the resulting blood sugar levels aren’t pretty — I vowed from then on to fika with water only.
Clearly, being a fika warrior takes some training. Fortunately, I’m willing to put in the hours to hang with the best of them — I’ve been taking stock of the local bakeries, and the next time I return to Sweden, I’ll be able to down a five-layer chocolate cake and a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream in one sitting.
I know, I know — I set high standards for myself.