Skorpor

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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.

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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.

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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.


11 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    I could see this as I read it. It reminded me of a passage in Brenda Ueland’s book about describing things you know in conscientious detail; “The more you wish to describe a Universal the more minutely and truthfully you must describe a Particular….Don’t try to make it sound smooth and mellifluous, but write with exquisite and completely detached exactness and truthfulness. Look…and just say what you see…” Good work, Evie.

  2. Canaan Bound

    This seems surreal and beautiful and positively perfect…totally not what I was expecting. I’ll be honest, I thought you were relating a skorpor disaster. Not that I doubt your skills as a master of the cullinary arts, Evie. I just thought all that beauty at the beginning was somehow building up to an ironic and catastrophic ending. But no. Simply delightful perfection. Guess that tells you something about MY experiences in the kitchen…

  3. Profile photo of Evie Coates

    Evie Coates

    @eviecoates

    Lanier: my distinct pleasure.

    Ron: WOW. That sounds like a book I need to read. Sometimes I feel like I get a little too describey, so that makes me feel a bit better. I love to “say what I see” (taste, hear, smell, feel), it’s one of my favorite ways to write.

    Canaan Bound: Believe me, if there are ever catastrophic happenings in my kitchen, they center around baking rather than cooking, to be sure.

    Pete: Uh, that’s Skeletor, dipstick. (I know you know, I just wanted to use that word.) You must not know that you’re dealing with a girl who completely disregarded her mother’s warnings against the violent thrashings of He-Man and his contemporaries.

  4. Lanier Ivester

    Evie, total second on Ron’s recommendation It’s the best book on writing I have ever read.

    Pete, I’m glad that Evie beat me to the punch on the whole ‘Skeletor’ thing. Otherwise I’d be sitting here at my computer wasting precious writing time trying to remember that dude’s name.

  5. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Evie, in that same section she says, “Look at the person and just say what you see, even if it sounds like a catalogue.” Her book is worth reading.

  6. Ashley Elizabeth

    Evie- I’m feeling led by the Holy Spirit. You should teach us how to make these at Hutchmoot. Amen.

    In all seriousness, you write with great beauty. Thank you.

  7. tasha

    that was beautiful. it gave me a longing to not only taste the lovely-sounding skorpor, but also to be there in the sights, sounds, and scent you described. thank you for sharing.

  8. Profile photo of Evie Coates

    Evie Coates

    @eviecoates

    Ron: It’s been added to my Amazon queue. Will you sign it for me when it gets here?

    AE: Brilliant! You are the Lord’s mouthpiece, both for revelation and for enjoying tasty baked goods. (Is that sacrilege?… )

  9. Dryad

    Ummmmmm… that sounds truly delicious. You wouldn’t happen to know where I could find a recipe? Although I surely couldn’t bring Sweden over here to go with…

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