I can’t pick anymore. My back hurts.
He’s ten years old.
Just now, he stood, fully focused. Bent over the wild strawberries, picking them carefully between his thumb and forefinger. Berries so small, bursting with sweet taste. He was careful not to press too hard. Gently tugging them from the stem, putting them whole in the small basket.
Wild strawberries don’t taste like strawberries at all. Much smaller, much sweeter. Concentrated taste within the perimeter of about half a centimetre in diameter. I don’t know why they’re called ”wild strawberries”. They are called ”smultron” in Swedish. Strawberries are called ”jordgubbar”. Not the same. Nothing similar at all – tastewise.
Of course, if you want, you can see similarities in the way they look – if you set aside that one is far bigger than the other. Strawberries are hybrids within the wild strawberry family. Strawberries used to be called ”ananas wild strawberries” when they were introduced to Sweden during the mid 18th century. The name, in Swedish ”little old earth man,” was created around 1840 and ”little old man” means ”a little lump, originally.
I love both wild and regular strawberries, but I prefer wild strawberries. They seem to hold so much taste and such sweetness that it is almost impossible to do anything but enjoy them when you find them in the semi-shadow alongside the country road, or in the woods.
My son loves them too. He eats them when he finds them and leaves no prisoners. He is a true son of this rough country. With its’ cold climate that brings out the sweetness in the berries. In Sweden, the nights are colder, thus the sugar isn’t burned by the sun and the berry delivers sweetness simply because of the cool, light summer nights.
The bigger relatives – the strawberries – are also sweeter, if grown in Sweden. Sometimes, I buy them from the store. The Netherlands, Spain, Italy or Poland… they all grow strawberries, but they are never sweet enough for me. Those berries are watery. Bland. Always a disappointment after having tasted the real thing.
Today, both my son and my daughter are picking wild strawberries in order to make a wild strawberry cake. Because of the rarity of the berries, the wild strawberries will be but the decoration on top of the cake. Plunged into the whipped cream, covering the entire cake. The filling will be strawberry jam, vanilla cream and grated apple.
I know – grated apple might sound strange, but try it out. My grandmother used it in her summer cakes all the time, and I don’t know of anything that makes a cake as moist and juicy as grated apple.
My kids love making cake.
Both of them don’t love eating cake, though.
My daughter eats about every cake there is – as long as it’s not covered in too much whipped cream.
My son only eats chocolate cake. Thus, he will get a couple of pieces of dark chocolate during ”fika”.
”Fika” is when Swedish people put the coffee pot on, serve some sweet baked goods, and have a sit-down during the day. It usually happens around three o’clock in the afternoon.
”Fika” is a nice tradition. It’s getting people together, talking, eating and drinking something nice (usually coffee!), in order to be able to go about the rest of the day.
”Fika” is probably what holds the Swedish society together.
It sounds strange. But where would we be without ”fika”? This is where cool, collected Swedish people reach outside of their shell and talk to each other. This is where you actually meet during the day. ”Fika”, is where you vent your feelings about this and that, manage to let out some emotions and where you have the chance to get to know each other. Not an obvious thing in the Swedish society.
My kids love ”fika”. Of course, they sport a sweet tooth with a craving for chocolate, cakes, cinnamon buns and cookies. And they don’t get fika every day. But, when they do, they’re all for it. When I ask them about ”fika”, they tell me it’s a ”Swedish tradition”, it’s ”nice” and it’s “something that allows you to eat sweet stuff during the day”. Not bad.
I see ”fika” as the ultimate mindfulness.
When you do ”fika”, you enjoy the moment. You are fully emerged in interesting conversations, coffee and of course – cake caresses your tongue if you are lucky enough…
Time passes without you noticing.
”Fika” is simply enjoying life.
And to be or not to be – that is the question. I chose to be.
With ”fika”. 😊