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While living in Umeå, Sweden I worked occasionally (when I was bored with window shopping, reading and writing) at a cool place called Kafe Station (pronounced stah-SHOON, not STA-shen). Moving right along. A local church turned an old fire station into this cafe and it stands as a major component of their ministry, staffed and managed by the church and used as a really neat gathering space for concerts, meetings, minglings and such. When I had just barely acclimated to the new pace/language/wonder, Maria and I went shopping one morning for organic lavender for our morning baking. Curious, I thought, as we shuffled through the snow to the shops down the street. We found a medicine and herb shop where we purchased a little plastic pocket filled with teeny purple buds. This was going to be both fun and educational.

Once back in the little green-tiled kitchen and with the local radio playing songs in a language I could only scarcely grasp, we tied on our aprons and started mixing a dough for the day’s skorpor (Sweden’s answer to biscotti). My job was chopping chocolate chunks off a good size block and running a knife through some toasted hazelnuts, both of which would eventually be folded into the soft mound of sweet dough, along with the aromatic lavender. Just enough to perfume the biscuits, though, not enough to render them soap-like.

They baked, nestled in their long, perforated baguette forms, while we cleaned our workspace. When they came out, fragrant and golden, we quickly sliced them into inch-thick pieces, laid them out on sheet trays and slid them back into the oven for their second and final baking. We retired to a cafe table for fika and enjoyed the tiniest cups of the darkest coffee with the cutest spoons. Soon the sweet, floral, nutty scent settled into air of the warm, sunlit room, quiet save for the clinking of said cute spoons, the hushed murmur of the lilting, sing-songy language, and the occasional squeal of a beautiful, rosy-cheeked Swedish baby in her stroller.

Skorpor were taste-tested, naturally (my tongue can still remember the foreign but marvelous combination), slid onto trays and then into the lighted case, ready for the day’s dunking.


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