Monday, May 11, 2015

Fika Times Four

Fika. I have written that word more times than I care to admit. And beaten several dead horses with it. But it’s a thing here. Not always, but it’s definitely a thing. And that thing became painfully obvious last week for me while attending a conference/workshop in northern Sweden. I was literally in pain.

Here’s why:
Tuesday, May 5
13.00–13.30: Lunch
13.30–15.00: Introduction
15.00–15.30: Fika
15.30–17.00: Seminar 1
17.30: Dinner

Wednesday, May 6
4.00–9.00: Breakfast
9.00–10.30: Seminar 2
10.30–11.00: Fika
11.00–12.30: Seminar 3
12.30–13.30: Lunch
13.30–15.00: Seminar 4
15.00–15.30: Fika
15.30–17.00: Sightseeing
17.30: Dinner

Thursday, May 7
4.00–9.00: Breakfast
9.00–10.00: Wrap-up
10.00–10.15: Fika
10.15–11.00: Group evaluation
11.00–11.45: Lunch
11.45: Departure

I seriously considered stopping the post right here. After that schedule. Just letting the schedule speak for itself. Letting you work your way through the time intervals. The hour and a half between breakfast and the first fika. The hour and a half between the first fika and lunch. The hour and a half between lunch and the second fika. The hour and a half between the second fika and dinner. Or maybe letting you realize on your own that on Thursday, breakfast ended at nine. And fika was a fifteen-minute affair beginning at ten. And then lunch began at eleven. I seriously considered stopping the post right there. After that schedule. But I clearly did not.

Let me say that the workshop was lovely. It was fun. It was nice to meet new people. It was a wonderful experience. Plus, I got to take a picture of this amazing sign.

I've heard that Swedish is the only language that doesn't use the Finnish
word "sauna." Like a terrible academic, I'm not going to check that claim.
Luckily, much better academics than me have saved me from a simple Google
search. Bastu=badstue in Norwegian. Mystery solved.
Couple the sauna sign with all of those fikas and it all felt very Swedish. So Swedish that even the Swedes started groaning by the time Thursday rolled around. Which made me feel a bit better. Mostly because I was doing a bit of groaning myself.

Turns out, I have a problem. If you put food in front of me, I will eat it. And when that food is put in front of me at regular intervals five times a day, I will eat at regular intervals five times a day. It also turns out that when the food that is put in front of me involves a lot of baked goods, I will feel like Joey Chestnut on July 5th.

By the time I came home, my body was convinced that it needed to eat every hour and a half. It felt like I was 16 again, except, you know, out of shape. In other, completely unrelated news, I went for a run on Sunday.

Welcome to Sweden. And four fikas in forty-seven hours.


  1. A tip: Never ever go to a (Swedish) food conference. Or on a second though, do so - the fika (and lunch and dinner) there will be of higher standards (as all the participants are food snobs in some way). But yes, conferences and workshops do contain way too many fikas, but they provide good excuses to get out of the intense environment for 15 min (or 30)

    1. Oh wow, the higher quality might be enough to convince me to start studying foodways.

      And you're right, the break itself was nice. Now I just need to learn to say no to baked goods.

  2. FYI: "badstue" = Norwegian for "sauna" :-)

    1. Who needs Google when there are better academics than me out there? From this one example, I think we can also draw the conclusion that Swedes are terrible linguists.

  3. Detta schema är en skandal! Ingen kvällsfika?!?! Amatörer!

  4. OMG this is brilliant!! Yes, we Swedes loves fika! Hehe going to a conference in Sweden or even to your granma´s place involves alot of fika.. and yepp there are mostly a kvällsfika around 7-8 too.. :)