The lattelepjandi

Photo via the Kaffismiðjan Facebook page.

Quentin Bates, author of the Iceland-set crime novels starring officer Gunnhildur Gísladóttir, wrote a fun article called “Black fuel” for internationalcrimeauthors.com which I enjoyed and thought I’d share with all of you, not least for the useful slang that it has to offer. Here’s a taste:

There’s a black fluid that keeps the Nordic countries functioning. I don’t mean the stuff that’s pumped out of the depths of the North Sea by bearded roustabouts, but that other black liquid that’s the staple cliché of every Nordic crime drama.

Wallander more or less set the pace, functioning on a diet of coffee and not much else. But it’s not a cliché. Life in the Nordic countries really is lubricated by the ubiquitous oils and essences of the coffee bean and Iceland is no exception.

It was easy then. Coffee was made with hot water and a filter, or occasionally with a machine that fizzed and steamed until it produced a jug of black stuff that went into a thermos to be dipped into at intervals. Everyone drank coffee and anyone who didn’t was generally deemed to be slightly odd. Tea was an aberration, something that old ladies might sip, although the strongest, thickest coffee I have ever been served, guaranteed to keep you awake for the best part of a week, is made by a lady now close to her hundredth birthday who has undoubtedly never let a drop of tea pass her lips.

But then, in the years after I left Iceland, things started to change. Icelanders became coffee connoisseurs. Now there are coffee bars everywhere serving mochas, lattes, cappuchinos and a whole bunch of other oddities that have passed me by. It’s all a little 101.

Read the rest (and get your vocab lesson) here.

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