Meaning: Associated with moderation, the word means not too much, not too little, but just the right amount. It typically refers to the etiquette of taking your share.
For people who go to wedding receptions because of the good food, this is the term they need to learn. Maybe Sweden had too many people who followed this etiquette, and hence was the birthplace of this word. When we are faced with delectable food, or anything we love, taking it in moderation requires a lot of self control. There is a constant internal war between being polite and taking less and being open and taking whatever is offered.
But taking less than expected is also considered impolite in most cultures and striking a fine balance between both is hard. Sweden has the perfect word for this, and now, taking in moderation has a new definition. We could refer to a moderate share, hereafter as Lagom.
Flash Fiction #12
Lila looked at the clock on the far wall of the church. It was nearing five and the party had just begun. The heat was stifling her and she finally found the courage to walk out to the garden where the wedding reception was in full swing and smiled at the people there. Even to herself, it felt more like a grimace than a smile.
She looked towards the far end where she spied the wedding couple greeting and thanking their guests with plastic smiles. The atmosphere was stuffy and she yearned for the dinner to begin so she could eat something and start on her long journey back home. Her stomach rumbled noisily, announcing its presence just then, promptly reminding her that she had not had anything solid since the morning.
What seemed like hours later, after she had gone to her friend, the bride, and handed over the wedding gift to her, the aroma of butter chicken wafted towards her. Grinning as if the smell pleased her immensely, she moved towards the buffet area. She filled her plate with all that she could manage, trying not to retch as she piled food up in her mouth. She felt slightly dizzy, not quite managing to sit down at one of the sparsely decorated tables.
A particularly stubborn piece of bay leaf in one of the pulaos got lodged in her throat and she choked, frantically searching for water. As if by magic, a glass of water was thrust upon her face, almost knocking her glasses off her head. She grabbed it and gulped it down thankfully.
“This is why you should practice lagom…” An amused voice sounded just to her right.
Calming down her coughing fit, she looked up at the attractive female looking at her with a smile that seemed more amused than natural.
“You wouldn’t have choked. Hungry though you may have been, taking so much made you noticeable.” The newcomer said, shrugging as a way of explanation.
Her face flushing in embarrassment, Lila looked down at the piled up food, vowing to practice that Lagom, whatever it was. Just as she was about to get up and throw off what was left on her plate, she noticed her new ‘friend’ come towards her with her own plate and settling down as she said, “I guessed I could come eat with you. I need the company, and I am hungry too!”