«Ska vi fika?» (Shall we have a coffee break?») is a question that induces a warm glow on every Swedish heart, and the answer is always “Ja!”
Coffee is important to Sweden’s wellbeing. A snug place in which to drink it is vital, and a piece of cake, most usually a cinnamon bun (kanelbulla), is a non-negotiable accompaniment.
Coffee is one thing, alcohol another. An unyielding state monopoly and steep prices create a faint sense of prohibition. On Friday evenings, stoical Swedes queue at the state’s Systembolaget off licenses to buy wine or a six-pack.
Customs laws changed in 2003, allowing Swedes to buy quantities of alcohol from the EU into the country; but cautious Sweden still sees more harm than good in deregulating alcohol sales.
Yet when the chance to indulge presents itself, Swedes love celebrations – as long as all is done with regard to etiquette. Punctuality is a must, and toasts (skaal!) are made according to strict rules. Impeccable manners only seem to loosen at a crayfish feats, when Swedes will merrily rip off claws with their hands and clash beer glasses in true Viking fashion.
In line with the new Nordic cuisine revolution that has swept across Scandinavia in recent years, Stockholm has seen an incredible restaurant boom. Cozy bistros and sophisticated restaurants (including six with Michelin stars) have sprung up everywhere, placing the city firmly on the gastronomic map.
Wining and Dining in Sweden, written by Tor Kjolberg
You may also be interested in reading: