*In Oaken voice* Yoohoo!
Welcome to another week of Supper Club. Today we’re talking about Swedish coffee traditions, the linguistics of lamenting, and an accordion-playing nun. This week’s edition is split into a written section and a podcast, and the latter can be found on Spotify, Anchor, and Apple Podcasts. If you would like to live in denial of how often you say “like” and “umm”, I highly recommend not making a spontaneous podcast episode. I can’t unhear myself and I wish I could, but otherwise I’m proud of what we put together and I hope you’ll bear with us.
Many of you know that I can’t handle caffeine. It leads to a shaky-hypoglycemic-grumpy-paradoxically-tired Rosie. So while others start jonesing for that sweet sweet bean water and know it’s time for a coffee break, my only reminder to step away from my desk is when my eyes start burning from staring at the screen. I like the taste of coffee, I like pumpkin spice lattes, I like the act of going to coffee shops, but I’ve never been good about taking consistent breaks in the same way that some caffeine lovers are. However, like hygge or koselig or anything at IKEA, slap a Scandanavian name on something and I’m sold. Humble coffee breaks aren’t something I make time for, however the sacred ritual of fika is now an essential part of my day.
I first heard of fika on a @nytimescooking Instagram post about a cake recipe. “Fika is the Swedish custom of stopping twice daily for coffee, conversation and a little something sweet…” the post began. How had I never heard of this? A lowkey Swedophile since I first stepped into the IKEA food court as a child, the isolation and clutter (both literal and emotional) of 2020 primed me for full conversion. Who are these jovial people wearing sweaters, drinking beer, and enjoying their 10 month winter with ease and commaredery and how do I become one of them? I decided fika would be my 2021 workday savior.
If you’d like to join me in my quest to take breathers during the workday, I highly recommend making this cake at the beginning of the week to accompany your fika. Real fika is meant to be shared with others, but I am considering a conversation with my journal to be an acceptable pandemic substitute.
Julia Turshen’s Yogurt Cake with Fig Preserves from Now & Again (summarized by me)
Pre-heat oven to 350 and cut parchment to fit the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan (or just clamp some into a springform pan) and grease.
Whisk together 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups plain full-fat greek yogurt, 4 tbsp melted and cooled unsalted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla.
Sift in 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt. Whisk to combine.
Sift in 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and stir in gently, don’t overmix! Spread into your pan. Dollop 1/2 to 1 cup of preserves or jam onto your cake batter, I like to do 5 big spoonfuls in the pattern you see on a die face 5. Swirl with a chopstick or the tip of a paring knife. So therapeutic.
Bake for 40-55 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. I use a 9 inch springform pan and about 43 minutes has been perfect in my very intense gas oven.
Fika is a word that holds a lot more meaning than its literal definition. It’s a feeling and a state of mind. It takes something as mundane as a coffee break and turns it into a way of life, into a matter of Swedish national identity. There isn’t a true english translation of fika that properly conveys these nuances. Holes like these in the english language are part of what inspired the structure for Karen Krolak’s The Dictionary of Negative Space. It is honestly difficult to summarize the number of topics we touched on, so I hope you’ll just go ahead and listen to our conversation:
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Anchor
Listen on Apple Podcasts
Links to the pictures and resources mentioned in our conversation, as well as an audio transcript, can be found here.
An example of an entry:
_____ – n. fear of being asked how are you because you know people do not really want to know the answer
None of us seem to have found a satisfying word to respond to the question “how are you?” this past year.
My entry to accompany _____:
_____[?]: v. To laugh, breath, or employ speech filler in order to stall while one decides whether to answer “good” when asked how they are doing.
Example: _____ caused me to awkwardly _____[?] on my zoom call.
If after listening to this podcast, you think of some Dictionary entries that fill in that blank, or rather define the blank, please send them to me and I’ll share with Karen.
_____[??]: n. the struggle of finding a signature that properly expresses your gratitude without sounding like a Jane Austen character