Those generous fans of the Bestiary in Latvia have sent me a wonderful assortment of Estonian biscuits to try, all of them in the Mesi-Käpp (“Honey Pot”) range from Kalev, a chocolate manufacturer popular in the Baltic States. These Käpaküpsised immediately caught my eye. It’s hard to translate the name with the usual internet tools; the nearest I can get to it is some kind of cover or cap and even the donors were unsure what ‘1 tükk 4 min jooksu’ meant (an instruction to microwave them perhaps?) though I did learn that küpsis is the Estonian for “cookie”, that narrower semantic cousin of the biskviit. Update: an Estonian speaker has confirmed it means ‘one biscuit every four minutes’ – less as a serious serving recommendation than a joke about how addictive they are.
As you can see from the pic below, these biscuits resemble bear paws or prints, light and crumbly chocolate discs that have survived their trip surprisingly well. They taste pleasant with coffee and I have an inkling their dryness might be well matched with a mousse or ice cream as a biscuity dessert. And in fact it seems that the Estonians have more than mastered the art of the dessert biscuit: in the course of researching Estonian cuisine, I discovered they have a special biscuit cake called küpsisetort, another reason (if more were needed!) to love a country whose modern independence began with a Singing Revolution and gave the world the healing, haunting simplicities of Arvo Pärt.
If the singing revolution reminds me of Jehoshaphat’s army, the bear paws reminded me of David’s battle with Goliath. You may remember how King Saul advises him not to fight the Philistines’ champion out of pity for his youth and inexperience, but the young David, whose only apparent skill is sheep-keeping, explains he has already seen off wild beasts who attacked his flock: “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from this Philistine,” he tells the astonished king, going on to defeat the giant in the name of the Lord with a well-aimed stone. David’s mindset was different in seeing only the affront to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies in the Philistine’s boasting while the rest of the army focused on his obvious strength and power.
As I write this, of course, I can’t help thinking of another country not so many miles from Estonia locked in their own David-and-Goliath struggle. It moved me to read that both Christian and Jewish communities in that country have been praying David’s Psalm 31 together while the attacks continue. It’s as powerful an appeal as it is poignant for the people of Ukraine right now:
…I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies…
We pray for the people of Ukraine to be delivered from their enemies and for the shoes of the gospel of peace to bring healing in place of the tracks of war. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of so much suffering and the lies that are fuelling it – but do not underestimate the power of prayer. God’s strength is far greater than our strength and his understanding far better than ours as the only one who knows the secrets of every heart. Whatever the whispers (and there are many) it is only in fearing him we can be freed from fear.
Some ways to help relieve the suffering in Ukraine and speak up on behalf of Ukraine’s refugees, especially if you’re in the UK.