Fika och Choklad
“Is there anyone here who is Swedish?’, the young woman on stage asked tonight at Sydney’s Arthouse Hotel. As much as I was tempted to reply “yes”, I figured it was a little too much for me to claim Swedishness, since I was descended from a varied group of English, Irish and Scottish settlers and convicts, including a family who had arrived in Australia on the Third Fleet. There’s a fair bit of my ancestry I’m unsure about, but I’m guessing it’s mostly Irish genes that I have. “Put your hands down”, she said to the nearby group of Danes.
In the mid-evening break, I chatted with the woman who had told her story of being a Youth Exchange student in the far north of Sweden (about 600km from Stockholm, she told me) and who discovered the delights of fika. Fika is the Swedish word which I understood to mean a coffee break. But in the far north of Sweden where she lived for a year, fika meant consuming large amounts of cakes.
It was her story around the theme of “vice” which she told as part of Now Hear This, a story-telling night which has recently begun in Sydney, and which I have some involvement with (disclosure). “It’s a bit like The Moth” I’ve told a few people.
The second story tonight also had a theme I could relate to: researching family history. The bloke, obviously a retired gentleman, spoke of his “addiction” to travelling to cemeteries and hotels in search of long lost grandfathers. I knew exactly what he was talking about, as you may have noted from the many adventures on my website.
As someone who has spoken quite publicly about her experiences with weight loss and gastric banding, the host of “Now Hear This”, Melanie Tait spoke about her vice – chocolate.
The combination of Swedishness and chocolate opened up a desire in me also. And so on the way home, instead of catching a cab straight from the hotel, I walked through Hyde Park and headed towards Sydney’s Oxford Street.
As I’ve noticed previously, there have been a number of stores in Sydney which have recently been selling the Swedish confectionary, Daim. Those locations have included my own local convenience store, as well as convenience stores on Broadway. Sadly, “supplies” have dried up, and so I headed with an almost manic desire in my eyes towards Duffy Brothers supermarket on Oxford Street, which I’d known previously to have sold the authentic Swedish version of Daim. They had also previously stocked another well known Swedish brand, Marabou. As the woman who spoke on stage tonight had observed, the Swedes know how to do sweets very well. In fact, I read the other day, Swedes were the largest consumers of sugar in the world.
Like a junkie looking for a hit, I walked back and forward along the chocolate aisle at the Duffy Brothers, only to discover they no longer stock Daim or Marabou.