Tag Archives: typiskt svenskt

Why I love my coffee cold.

This time of the year us Swedes grab our mugs,

sit outside on a bench,

wrapped in blankets,

faces turned to the sun like sunflowers,

enjoying the first warm rays of light.

We are all probably side by side in a row,

pressed against a house wall sheltering us from the wind.

The coffee is long cold.

It doesn’t matter,

as long as we can take our fika outside we are happy!

Soon the grill will be out too.


Fika the Swedish way

Fika is the Swedish soul.

Fika is coffee/tea/juice/whatever-except-alcohol.

Fika is our daily excuse to savor cinnamon rolls/pastry/cake/cookies.

Fika is a daily routine at our work places. Twice a day actually.

Fika is when Swedes are not taciturn.

Fika is #fika on twitter.

Fika is at home. At the office, at a café.

Fika is at the playground, in a park and in our gardens.

Fika is for business and pleasure.

Fika can be just a cuppa.

Fika is always right.


Books anyone?

Today is an important day to Swedish book lovers. Although the significance is less since the beginning of online shopping, it is still a day to look forward to for many people. Today marks the start of the annual book sale. According to tradition many book stores open early, sometimes even just past midnight. It’s the “Black Friday” of Sweden. This annual sale is important to the book business, and it’s not only going on in book stores but in general in every store that carries books – even online.

If you are learning Swedish you have a chance of picking up a thesaurus or a Swedish vocabulary book. A good idea is to get a Swedish cookbook or children’s books; even if you don’t have kids! They are great for practicing a language.

I think I am going to get my hands on “Snacka snyggt – modern retorik” by Elaine Eksvärd – a book about speaking, or more probably about listening! Bokus

Another book I will take a look at is “Swedish christmas”; in English, 75 kr at Bokus. Recipes, traditions and tips, photos and inspiration – perfect if you are new to Sweden or as a gift to Swedes abroad.

Any recommendations for books to buy?


Food in a tube – not only for space.

Yesterday I had a conversation on twitter about caviar. Not the expensive one, but the Swedish breakfast spread that comes in a tube. Yes, you heard me; we eat it for breakfast, and yes it is tube-food. This means all the colorful tubes in the grocery store are not necessarily toothpaste but food. There is also soft cheese on tubes.

The caviar looks like a cream somewhere on the color scheme between pink and salmon. It is salty. It goes well with boiled eggs. Either you slice the egg and have a caviar and egg sandwich, or you simply put some caviar on your egg and eat with a spoon. Cold potatoes are also a perfect match for caviar as is in my opinion chives.

Swedish people that relocate abroad often miss the caviar (find out what else they miss here). There are probably not many shops around the world selling Scandinavian food that don’t carry the product. In the Us I could buy the Swedish version in a tube at a Russian supermarket (there was no IKEA at a decent distance).

A non-Swedish friend of mine told me of the first time she experienced caviar. It was on a visit to Sweden. We all know how lovely a hotel breakfast can be, and this proved to be no different – there was a lovely pinkish spread that to my friend couldn’t be anything but strawberry flavored. It wasn’t. Imagine her surprise, and may I say shock, when it was all salt and not sweet at all.

But there has been some flirting with sweet flavors from one of the producer´s. In 2007 banana caviar was introduced, and this was mentioned in my twitter feed yesterday. I had fully forgotten about this. Deliberately, I suppose. Though I must admit, I haven´t tried it.


Men with strollers. In groups.

The first few days back in Sweden I noticed all the dads out walking babies and toddlers in strollers. Weekdays and weekends. I was used to seeing women with strollers. Even when the parents were out walking together the men usually did not push the prams. But because I´m Swedish I didn´t really find it weird; I did not jump to the conclusion that Sweden must attract an enormous amount of male babysitters; it was just such an unusual sight. Dads on lengthy parental leave was something I had never experienced. And here they came in groups.

Another child related observation was all the snow suits. We arrived in December and every single toddler was dressed in beaver nylon fabric. Even relocating from Switzerland this looked funny – I only really saw snow suits in the ski slopes there, but usually a two piece winter gear seamed more popular. The winters in Sweden are not always snowy and white but quite often just wet. So we made another acquaintance – fleece lined rain gear. When we lived in the US we could not even find normal rain gear in kids’ sizes. A nice grandmother had to carry it over on visiting. Because Swedish people go outside in any weather, which was confirmed by another first impression – zillions of people out walking in the rain.

Tomorrow I´ll continue down my list of first impressions upon returning to Sweden after expat life. Ciao!


Swedish small talk – or big. #14

Want to adopt Swedish culture? Talk about the weather.
Want to adopt Swedish culture? Talk about the weather.

What about it?  – read on here!

Tulips – very Swedish

Tulips are my favorite flowers. The first sign of spring during our long dark winters; the first pastel colors after the intense reds and greens of Christmas. I love them! But I´m not alone – tulips are popular in Sweden. Swedes buy most tulips per person in the world, adding up to one million per day. US is still the largest market but the buying pattern of the Swedes- often a bunch per week – is far from matched. So even buying flowers can be culturally different, as well as the value of the flower. We happily buy them for ourselves when we do our weekly grocery shopping, whereas in other countries they might be considered more exclusive. Today– Jan 15 – is the Day of the Tulip in Sweden – “Tulpanens dag”. And yes, I bought some today! In spite of my admiration for tulips I haven’t grown many of them in my garden over the years. You see, it is not only Swedish people that can’t resist them; they seem to be favorite food for part of our wildlife. Last fall though I planted quite a few which I will guard vigorously when the time comes. Actually, due to the mild winter, one or two are peaking up already. As an expat I was lucky to enjoy smaller, botanical tulips in one of my rented gardens.

Updated 2018

Read more about tulips here, Tulpanguiden in Swedish, or just enjoy the pictures!




Small Swedish lesson:

en tulpan – a tulip

tulpaner – tulips

en blomma – a flower

blommor – flowers

en bukett – a bouquet

att slå ut – to bloom/to enter the flowering state

en utslagen tulpan – a blooming tulip

att sloka – to wilt, to flag

vissna – to wither, to shrivel

vissen – shrivelled

en rabatt – a flower bed

en dag – a day

Tulpanens dag – the Day of the Tulip

Fredagsmys for non-Swedes

Say the word Fredagsmys and every Swede knows what you are talking about. An easy Friday evening get-together, to mark the end of the work/school week and the beginning of the weekend. Family or friends, easy cooking, snack and a TV-screen are ususally involved. Tacos is a classic, as well as chips/crisps and dip; at least that´s what the commercials want us to believe. Fredagsmys is part of our modern culture, probably substituting the Sunday dinner family gathering.

The reality TV-show “Allt för Sverige”, brings “Swedish” Americans to Sweden for a chance to discover their roots. One of the episodes exposed the group to Fredagsmys.  http://bit.ly/YizCDAI

Traditions and celebrations – a Smorgasbord for expats

One of the best things with living in different countries, and being exposed to various cultures, is that you get a bunch of new traditions to take on. You can choose freely – adopt the ones that appeal to you and fit your regular schedule of celebrations. It can be big; it can be small. As an expat; try to celebrate with locals if you can. If you moved already, keep the traditions – sometimes they prove to grow even stronger!

In my case there seems to be a strong connection between traditions and food. Anyone else? This year, with a bunch of friends from different parts of the world, we decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo; because of the Mexican food. But we also looked up some information about the tradition, and background, so we all learnt something new. We had a wonderful evening and will most likely do it again.

Thanksgiving is coming up, closely followed by 1st of Advent.  Again; food involved. But we must not forget the most important ingredients – people and the opportunities/excuses to get together!

What are your traditions? Have you started any new ones? What happens when you move – do the traditions grow in importance or do they tend to fade away? Would love to hear your comments!

Leave our pancakes alone!

As I´m making pancakes for dinner I think about how this is one of the easy dishes that has followed us around the world. No matter where we have lived there has always been milk, flour and eggs for pancakes. We almost always make the thin ones. Sometimes a thick version in the oven, and occasionally American with baking powder. You say the word and everyone has their own perception of the dish in their mind. In Switzerland I remember inviting an American family over for an afternoon playdate. I made pancakes. Oh, the disappointment in the eyes of the visiting boys as we sat down to eat. Their mother tried desperately to explain how exciting it would be to try Swedish pancakes. But no. It just wasn´t their kind of pancake. To them the relocation to Europe was probably enough at the time. “Leave our pancakes alone!”  #TCK

Do you know we use pancake in some Swedish idiomatic expressions ? Literal translations follows.

Luxury pancakes

Upp som en sol ner som en pannkaka – Up like a sun down like a pancake

Himmel och pannkaka – Heaven and pancake

Det blir bara pannkaka av alltihop – It will all just be pancake

Marsch pannkaka! – Off you go, pancake!