Coffee. A beverage I cannot stand. Yes, even with lots of cream and sugar. Yes, even a mocha. Yes, even coffee-flavored ice-cream. Even the smell of coffee brewing is gross to me. (I used to study at a Starbucks – don’t judge me; it was the closest coffee shop to where I lived at the time – and would come home with coffee scent clinging to my clothes, which to me is akin to coming home from a smoky bar. Somehow only Starbucks does this to my clothes. Other coffee shops are fine.)
Then I went to Sweden where they drink coffee like I’ve never seen people drink coffee before. They love their morning and afternoon coffee breaks, in addition to their breakfast coffee and dessert coffee. I’m clearly no expert in coffee, but it seemed to be a much stronger, more sophisticated coffee than what I’ve seen elsewhere. And everyone drinks it, without fail, at least four times a day it seems. I was tempted to try some, just to fit in. Fortunately, most of the homes I visited also stocked tea, but I really felt like I was missing out on an important cultural experience by not participating in the coffee drinking.
Apart from the aforementioned fact that I loathe coffee, I found the social aspect of it in Sweden very appealing. (I also found the accompanying buns and/or cake appealing.) It was a time that family or friends would gather around the table, usually on a back deck, and talk for a bit. Of course we were all either retired or on holiday, so we had time for that.
Communal sharing extended beyond coffee. Apart from one lunch in Stockholm because we were in the city sight-seeing, all our meals were eaten in homes. (But I must share about that meal – it was a hot dog from a stand but not just a hot dog. It was more like a long bratwurst rolled in flat bread along with mashed potatoes and shrimp salad. Wow, who knew fast food could be so good!) When we met friends for lunch or dinner, it was in their homes. And the food was always so delicious! Always fresh, always from scratch, always with lots of vegetables. If I ever move to Sweden, I will be so self-conscious about having anyone over for a meal because I just can’t compete. Yet if the people I met on this trip came over, I know they would be gracious, and meals would be enjoyable because of the company, regardless of the food.
In the meantime, I still aim to improve my cooking. And as for the coffee…well, perhaps I will attempt to ease myself into that as well.