A few weeks ago I arrived back in Stockholm to live for the first time in nearly four years. I was born in London to a Swedish mother and British father, and now after these chaotic and fast paced years in London I have returned to one of the two cities I call ¨home¨. The two cities compliment each other like salt and pepper.
When one becomes overwhelming the other awaits you with the perfect counter-balance. When London is unbearably huge and daunting Stockholm greets you like an old friend. And when Stockholm becomes too familiar and tidy there is London with a sporadic energy that offers you surprises around every corner.
But for now I am settled in Stockholm and have already noticed some significant changes since the last time I decided to rest my bags here for more than a week or so.
In London I studied Anthropology and for some reason now seem to spend a large part of my time as a city dweller thinking about how culture manifests itself around me. My favourite source of inspiration on this topic has for some reason become food and drink. I read an inspiring article not so long ago on how food has replaced art as high culture and I can’t help but want to explore this further.
There is a food culture phenomenon that seems to be emerging in major cities everywhere. In London this is massively visible in gentrified food markets, American-style food trucks, “pop-up” restaurants, and endless internationally inspired fusion restaurants that won’t let you book a table. But they are good. And it is exciting.
It has been interesting watching this arise in London, a city that has had so much going for it for so long, except easy access to a good affordable meal. But on returning to Stockholm this food culture phenomenon has hit me with a wave of inspiration and admiration.
Where one used to find the same grilled sandwiches and ‘healthy’ salads in identical cafes all over town, they have been taken on by food enthusiasts focusing on individuality and quality on a scale that wasn’t so readily available and sought after not that long ago.
This high food culture I have observed both here and in London comes with a kind of nostalgic traditionalism. During the last year of my degree I wrote an essay on how people seem to be turning back to a way of living that is somehow inspired by the traditional yet at the same time modern and international. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition.
I currently live in Södermalm’s Mariatorget and I love the fact that good quality, international and organic products are so easily available. And how many local cafes have transformed the classic cup of coffee. Yet on the other hand, on a more ¨traditional¨ level, it is so comforting to see a range of small, independent companies bringing back a simpler, local way of living.
My favourite on this list is the bakery, which has made a much-welcomed and revamped comeback. And even more interesting is this modern take means that bakeries are well designed, welcoming environments to sit and drink excellent coffee made by trained baristas and eat a tasty homemade sandwich some exciting filling.
So, since the last time I lived here four years ago Stockholm like many cities involved in this new interest in food has changed on this front and it’s almost amusing sometimes. But I have to admit I like this new side to the city I call home again. I look forward to exploring these changes all over Stockholm in months to come.
For now, here are some of my recommendations close to home:
A slightly more traditional Stockholm bakery of the lot with tasty sandwiches
Another local café that has popped up in the last little while. Old-school environment with a new feel.
Fabrique is actually a chain but they have independent locations over the city. This one is particularly nice.
Johan & Nyström, Swedenborgsgatan 7