Swedish expression – ‘Cool as a bowl of fermented milk’

In English, we have the expression ‘cool as a cucumber’. It was first recorded in a poem by John Gay in 1732. The Swedish version of this is ‘cool/calm as a bowl of fermented milk’, or ‘lugn som en filbunke’ in Swedish.

What, you might be asking, is a filbunke? Well, according to the dictionary it is ‘milk that has fermented, unstirred, in small bowls. Has a pudding-like consistency. Traditionally made in small bowls from (unpasteurized and unhomogenized) raw milk, which normally contains some cream. The cream forms a yellowish layer of sour cream on top. Comes unflavoured and flavoured.’

We don’t have an equivalent dish in English as far as I know.

Although the dish has been around since the 1600’s, the expression ‘cool as a filbunke’ entered the Swedish language in 1845. Playwright Johan Jolin wrote in his play ‘A Comedy’ – ‘I’m cool, cool as a filbunke’. It was met with much hilarity. I guess he thought there was something chilled out about a bowl of fermented milk.

2 thoughts on “Swedish expression – ‘Cool as a bowl of fermented milk’

  1. Hej – reading up on your posts. Perhaps the reason is that if you move a filbunke while it settles, it will be ruined?

    Here’s how to make your own filbunke if you cannot find unpasteurized milk: Heat up some unhomogenized milk (or regular milk with some cream added) until it’s warm, but doesn’t boil. Pour it into bowls and let it cool down to around 37 centigrees in room temperature. Stir a tablespoon of sour milk into each bowl and leave in room temperature until it settles. After it settles, you store it in the fridge. Eat with a layer of sugar on top. Tastes like childhood to me.

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