It is that time of the year when the windows and shelves of cafés and bakeries all through Sweden are filled with a very Scandinavian pastry: the Semla. Traditionalists get a bit upset that semlor (plural of semla) are sold this early in the year. According to tradition, they should be made, sold and eaten on Shrove Tuesday which is the last day before the fasting period of Lent. But, just like how Christmas comes earlier every year, so does the appearance of semlor in cafés and bakeries. Here at the Rival Hotel, our Café has started to serve them. So, if you are visiting Stockholm in these weeks... make sure you take the opportunity to try these delicious, traditional pastries.
"Hetvägg", but hard to see the milk on a white plate.
A semla is made out of a cardomom spiced wheat bun, filled with a mix of milk and almond paste and then topped with whipped cream. Some people like to eat their semla in a bowl of hot milk, which is called hetvägg. But whether in milk or on its' own, these pastries are consumed in the millions. Over 40 million annually in Sweden alone which is pretty good when you consider that our population is just under 10 million. They are quite filling and be careful of eating too many in one sitting. King Adolf Fredrik (a Swedish king in the 1700's) died of digestion problems after rounding off a big meal with 14 servings of hetvägg!