Fika is a big part of every Swede’s everyday life. It is often translated as a ‘coffee with something sweet-break’. But it is much more than that! It is a time to meet up with friends, colleagues and family and chill. Let’s call it what it really is: fika is a social lubricant, much loved and needed by the Swedes.
Essential for fika is of course a good cup of coffee – but in practice any drink will do. Combine your drink with some pastry or fikabröd. Cinnamon buns or kanelbullar are very popular. But chocolate balls, cardamom buns, punsch-rolls and biscuits will do as well.
But wait, there are more sweets! The semla is a small, wheat flour bun, flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream. The tradition of eating semlor (he plural of semla) is rooted in the Swedish fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday), when the buns were eaten at a last celebratory feast before the Christian fasting period of Lent. Today semlor can be eaten, bought and ordered almost all year round. The taste is peculiar and perhaps not for everyone, but give it a try!
We are not done yet! Våfflor or waffles are extremely popular in Sweden. Originally these waffles were square, but now they are often in the shape of a heart. The Swedish waffles are very different than for example their Belgian counterparts: they are made without yeast and much, much thinner. Waffles are eaten all year round, but especially on Waffle Day, March 25th. They are often served with jam, fruits and cream.
To survive all of the above – and also the long, dark winters – Scandinavian people often drink their coffee black and very strong. Try a sip before you order a big mug. With an average of 3 cups a day, it is also an essential part of their daily routines. Lunch rooms and coffee houses often include unlimited refills. Want to double check? Just ask: ingår påtår – are refills included?
You could call it the Swedish national dish: meatballs. And most local meatballs are much tastier than the ones you can get at a certain Swedish furniture shop. Want to try it really Swedish style? Eat them with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam! Some places have vegan options. Otherwise try the plant-based balls of Hälsans Kök or Oumph! from the shop.
While hiking or cycling St. Olavsleden, you might pass a couple of beer breweries. Some micro, some a bit bigger. One we would like to recommend is Jämtlands Bryggeri in Pilgrimstad. Located near a Olav spring, this beer might be blessed. And with more than 22 different beers in production and many prizes won, you should give them a try. You can even book a guided tour with beer tasting.
Near the pilgrim hostel in Munkeby and near medieval monastery ruins, monks from France established a new monastery. Here they produce the famous Munkeby cheese. The cheese is available in monastery shop, situated at the parking area by the monastery.