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Beyond the Lone Islands

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Coffee Traditions

I posted another collage of these pictures at Soaring Through the World today, on the theme Doors and Windows. It's from inside and outside the café in a museum park. Dan wrote in a comment at the photo blog that he would love to grab an espresso here. I started to write an answer to his comment - but it got longish, so I decided to put it here instead.

Sorry Dan, but they don't serve espresso in this café. It's the old-fashioned home-baked-cakes-and-biscuits sort of café, with a choice of cakes, but only one kind of coffee. (And open only in the tourist season.)

In old Swedish tradition, at a proper coffee party, you would offer seven different kinds of cake and biscuits. (Less would indicate that you were poor, or stingy, or not a good housewife.) And for the guest, it was considered impolite not to taste all that was served.

Nowadays, the tradition of seven cakes is really only kept alive theoretically in the recipe pages of weekly magazines - and on the opposite page, you'll find the latest slimming diets! Few people dare load their plates with seven different kinds of cake in public...

But coffee with cakes and biscuits in the garden on a sunny summer day, and geraniums in simple earthenware flowerpots on the window sills of a red-painted wooden house - the combination is still just about as nostaligically Swedish as it gets!

By the way. Did you notice the saucer with the blue rim under one of the flowerpots? And a different kind of saucer under the other one. Typical of a time when nothing was thrown away. If you broke the cup, or the saucer got a small crack perhaps, it was used like this.

(PS. I don't drink coffee myself. I'm a tea person.)


rae said...

Sounds a billion times better than Starbuck's!

Dr.John said...

Tea and biscuits that's English not Swedish.
Thanks for sharing a bit of Swedish history with us.

Dan Felstead said...

Dawn Treader! I just read your post on my photo blog and had to visit! I guess it was naive of me to ask for an espresso! Actually I like the Swedish tradition much more anyway! The thought of tasting 7 different desserts in order to be polite...I would be the most polite person in Sweden! Thanks for the heads up on your post.

I have to ask you something...are you Swedish? If so, you command of the English language is stunning!


DawnTreader said...

Dan, you are already very polite (and I a sucker for flattery so I'm thoroughly enjoying it) ;)

As for your question - yes, I'm Swedish. I studied English at University level (am formally qualified to teach it although for various reasons I did not work many years as a teacher). I started reading books in English when I was around 13 and have kept on doing so for 40 years. I've also always listened to it a lot. In my teens I spent some summer holidays in the UK. We also always get the original soundtracks to movies and TV-series in Sweden, with subtexts - no dubbing.


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