If you’ve ever been to Sweden, there’s one thing you’ll have heard of for sure: the Swedish fika, this phenomenon that seems to have some kind of holy, bordering on insanity, status in the entire country. And Uppsala is no exception to this fika frenzy. But do you really know what it signifies?
What does the word “fika” mean?
Let’s start off with the semantics. Grammatically, fika is both a verb and noun. Therefore, you can just as well say that you are currently “fiking” or “taking a fika” in Swedish. But etymologically is where it gets really exciting. The word is enveloped in several myths regarding its’ origin, of which one is that it’s an anagram for “coffee” (“kaffe” in Swedish). It’s also said that it comes from the nowadays not very used adjective “fiken”, which means to have a craving or be in the mood for something.
But enough with the grammar already! Let’s get down to business and define the word. When Swedes talk about fika, what they generally mean is a coffee break. The coffee can be switched out for tea or even lemonade, but some kind of non-alcoholic and preferably hot beverage is always a part of the deal. More arbitrary is the presence of a snack. If there is one, it’s commonly something sweet, but sandwiches can also occur. To sum up: Swedish fika almost always includes coffee with almost always a sweet treat.
Coffee and a snack – a social institution
If you’ve read this much, you’ve probably realized there’s a hype about fika. But perhaps not to what extent. Because Swedish fika is not just what the national coffee culture has turned into. Swedish fika is a national institution. Nevertheless, while the concept of having fika is very hands-on, it can be quite an abstract thing to describe since it comes in many forms and variations.
If you’ve read this much, you’ve probably realized there’s a hype about fika. But perhaps not to what extent.
So what shapes can fika adopt? Just like your regular coffee break, fika can be an excuse to stop doing something laborious for a while. Some people are of the idea that a person working in Sweden doesn’t actually start working before he or she has had the first fika of the day. So if you need a pause from work, school our touristing, this four-letter word can save the day, even if it means ten minutes of binge drinking java or one hour of happy procrastination.
But fika is not only a sidekick activity; it can also be the main event of your day. Haven’t called your mom for a while? Invite her to have fika at your place. Long time no see the buddies? Go for a fika at the new hot spot café in town together. Want to discuss something with a potential business partner? Fika! You get the picture. The fika phenomenon is everything you want it to be.
What to order or bake for Swedish fika?
Worked up an appetite for trying Swedish fika, but don’t know what to order or bake? Here are three steady tips for you to taste, with different baking difficulty levels!
Nota bene: even though this pastry is very similar to the cinnamon roll, swirl or snail so enthusiastically adopted by the States, the kanelbulle is the original delicacy. The biggest difference between the kanelbulle and its americanized cousin is the lack of frosting and addition of cardamom in the first one, and it’s perhaps one of the most classic gateaux on the Swedish fika menu. And it’s easy to make too – so try it out! It’s a-bun-dantly tasty.
If you’re rather a chocolate kind of person, these specialties will be more to your taste. Not only are they ridiculously easy to make, the recipe to these oat-based, coco flake covered goodies can be adopted to please both adults and children. If you are preparing them for an all grown up party, for example, you can try adding some coffee and more cocoa.
3. Strawberry cake
If there’s something a Swede with a sweet tooth and no lactose allergy never turn down, it’s a cream excessive jordgubbstårta, which translates to strawberry cake. But of course, this is not your ordinary everyday fika. If you’re lucky, you’ll find this delicacy in a well-assorted patisserie and maybe get a slice for dessert when celebrating midsummer.
Bonus tip – Local specialities
Worth noting is the fact that there are, of course, regional and local variations when it comes to fika preferences in Sweden. Uppsala, for example, is known for being the home of the annual Swedish bandy finals. For this special occasion, confectioner Frida Leijon has come up with the official bandy pastry, shaped like the ball of the sport – a truly delicious part of this grand event!
Where to go for Swedish fika in Uppsala?
If you’re looking to try out some real Swedish fika on-site, the city of Uppsala is a bountiful place to start. Here are some of our best recommendations:
1. Güntherska Hovkonditori & Schweizeri
This traditional confectionery and tea room constitutes one of the more refined examples of the Swedish fika culture. Try their buns, pastries and homemade ice cream!
In the impressive building that caps Uppsala’s central station, you’ll find this combined restaurant and café for you to enjoy all sorts of fika before taking off by train.
3. Broströms Kafé
This characteristic café offers both salt and sweet delights and even has an outside terrace for sunny days.