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It’s always a memorable trip or holiday if you get the chance to experience a place through the eyes of the local.
My recent long weekend in the region of Skane in Southern Sweden was one such inspiring holiday where the locals welcomed me with open arms and gave me a taste of ‘home.’
It gets even more exciting when locals invited you to experience their place through your stomach with the help of their unique, foodie customs.
Even better if its sweet given my Bengali roots in Kolkata where we are renowned for our sweet tooths…. ( and being diabetics)
‘Fika‘ was one such awesome ‘sweet Swedish’ instuition that I experienced on arrival at Ystad.
Fika is both a Swedish verb and noun (pronounced “fee-ka”) that roughly means “to drink coffee/tea” usually accompanied by something sweet (source- wikipedia).
The Swedish tradition involves inviting friends and colleagues for coffee along with deliciously baked goods- how good is that?
Friends/colleagues were present- Chris Richardson The Aussie Nomad, Abigail King from Inside the Travel Lab, Monica Stott from Gap Daemon and last but not least Ruth Haffenden from Four bgb.
Our kind hosts, Ystad Saltsjobad treated us to a Fika which involved some delicious Princess Cake- not too sweet, just perfect
This was complemented by different flavoured fruit teas with exotic names like Sweet Love– apparently tea drinking is all the craze and it’s popularity is on the rise in Sweden.
‘Like a kid in a candy shop’
My food tour of Skane with the locals continued with a ‘karamell’ making masterclass at Sveas in Malmo.
Having enjoyed perfect winters day with blue skies in Ystad the day before , seeing the gloomy grey morning sky in Malmo cpuld have been a real mood spoiler……until I walked into Sveas , a candy store!
It was like stepping into a time machine walking into Sveas.
I had that instant hit of happiness.
Of being transported back to my childhood, surrounded by all that wonderful multicoloured candy.
I couldn’t help feeling happy and being again that ‘kid in the candy store.’
In owner Henrik Lindquist we had a very enthusiastic guide who showed us how he hand makes hard candy.
Boiling a mixture of sugar with water, touch of vinegar ( weird but trust me you can’t taste it in the final product) and special peppermint liquid, he then spread out the syrupy dough onto a special baking mat , aerating it -folding, refolding it into a nice consistent thick stringy white mass before adding the red food colouring, again refolding.
That’s when the fun began: before the temperature cooled and dough stiffens, me and my fellow travel blogger friends started creating our own custom shaped candy-all with differing, hilarious results.
Judge for yourself- what do you think? 😉
No sweet safari of Swedish food is complete without Pepparkakor.
I discovered it at a supperclub in Malmo.
The supperclub is an ubercool intiative by the Malmo Tourism Board where local foodies allow tourists into their homes and treat them to some wonderful authentic Swedish cuisine ‘homemade’
Tourists can learn all the cool places to see, eat in Malmo where the locals go- locals gets to interact and meet people from all corners of the world. A win win for everyone involved.
It was the first day advent in Sweden that we went for the supperclub at our host ‘Mia’s house.
Despite being a secular society this is a very strongly followed tradition in Sweden.
To mark the day, Mia and pretty much everywhere we visited in Ystad, Lund and Malmo locals had decorated their windows with electric candles.
Popular choice being a heart shaped arrangement.
In the kitchen, on this day Swedes bake and eat Pepperkakor-gingerbread cookies.
After sampling some of the delicious cookies , I was encouraged to try the cookies with the unusual accompaniment of some sharp blue cream cheese.
It tasted wow.
Pepperkakor was my taste of Swedish Christmas -festive happiness and sweetness rolled into one biscuit.
I was in Skane as a guest of the Swedish Tourism Board.
Click here if want to find out more about the Malmo Supperclub intiative
Plus also if you want to make Pepparkakor at home and have your own taste of a Swedish Xmas, here is an ace Pepparakakor recipe