Fika. So said the letters, so said my host. It was not yet four in the afternoon and I began to brace myself.
The word fika, I decided, had all the hallmarks of a potent local spirit, the sort that could stand in for paint stripper on an identity parade and would give you a headache as soon as look at you.
My second best guess was that fika involved some kind of furniture shop with utensils made from see-though lime green plastic.
Happily, both guesses were wrong.
Fika, as it turns out, is something of a social institution in Sweden.
Pronounced fee-ka, the best explanation I’ve heard so far is that fika is a kind of “afternoon tea” half-remembered with a touch of romantic indulgence from England in the 1950s.
Apparently fika can be both a noun (let’s have some fika) and a verb (let’s fika now…) but like those other delicious letters in the Swedish alphabet (an ö, an å and an ä for example) I’m still getting to grips with the whole thing.
Fika often involves tea or coffee, with a cinnamon flavoured cake thrown in to melt away the cold outside.
Here at the Saltsjobad Hotel in Ystad, our fika involved custard-based Princess Cake and a cup of hot Sweet Love.
Not a bad introduction to a country.
Tack så mycket Sverige – Jag ser fram emot att få veta mer. Thank you very much, Sweden. I look forward to finding out more. (According to Google translate at least…)
Disclosure: I’m travelling to Skäne as a guest of Visit Sweden. All views, words and fika tastings are all my own. As usual…As ever, as always.