Food is – if not the most important – one the most important parts of culture. Italy is known for pizza and lasagna, America USA for burgers and BBQ, China for noodles, and Japan for sushi. For most of us, food is a way to experience different cultures. When traveling abroad, trying the traditional foods is a great way to get an impression of the people, their culture and their traditions.
We have handpicked the top 5 Danish foods you should try if you want to get closer to the Danish culture. Bon appetit!
One of the things Denmark is known for worldwide is the Danish Pastry. It is a multi layered, sweet and buttery pastry. Danes typically eat it as an afternoon dessert as a sweet to their coffee or as a dessert after breakfast.
In many places of the world, it is called Danish pastry or just “The Danish” as they call it in America. In Denmark, oddly enough, we call it wienerbrød, which means Vienna bread.
According to the CHPpost, the pastry in Vienna is known as Kopenhagener Gebäck or Dänischer Pludener, which makes it even more confusing.
The history of the Danish pastry makes it even more chaotic. The truth is that the pastry does not originate from Denmark at all. The pastry was invented by August Zang, who was from Austria. He opened a shop for Viennese baked goods in Paris in 1839. The pastry came to Denmark in 1850, when Danish bakers were striking, which forced employers to hire foreign manpower – and some of them were Austrian.
The Austrian bakers did not know the Danish recipes and way of baking and that is how the pastry – as we know it today – was born. You can read more about the story in the article “The patsies whose favourite pastries aren’t really Danish”.
Our number two is “stegt flæsk med persillesovs og kartofler”, meaning fried pork with parsley sauce and potatoes. Many traditional Danish meals include potatoes and some kind of sauce – just like this dish. The fried pork is very similar to thick slices of bacon. And if there is something the Danes love, it is bacon.
Some restaurants in Denmark which serve traditional Danish food offer this meal as an all-you-can-eat meal, where each person or table get their own bowl with potatoes, another bowl with sauce and then, of course, a plate of fried pork. The most Danish way to eat this meal is to put as much sauce as possible on the plate, mash the potatoes into the sauce and eat the crispy slices of fried pork with your fingers.
It is messy, it is Danish, and it is good.
This would be a great dish to make with a native speaker from Denmark! Making food together is a very social thing, and you get the chance of learning how to cook the Danish way. Find language partners on Swap Language here: www.swaplanguage.com
You can have a regular sandwich in any country and they are mostly quite similar. If you appreciate less bread and more fill, you will love the Danish kind of a sandwich. In Danish we call it “smørebrød”. In English it is typically described as “an open face sandwich”.
It consists of one slice of bread at the bottom and on top it is packed with all the different kinds of toppings you can imagine. It is almost impossible to eat without cutlery because there is so much of the good stuff. The bread that is used for the open faced sandwich is rye bread, which is also known for being Danish.
This leads to the fourth Danish food you have to try.
Rye bread is what us Danes call “rugbrød”. The bread contains rye flour, cracked or chopped rye kernels and/or seeds and is most often based on sourdough.
This kind of bread is extremely popular in Denmark. It is one of the foods that all Danes miss when they travel. You can get the bread in other countries as well but the Danes are of the opinion that their bread is the best. In Denmark, it is eaten for lunch with some kind of meat or fish on top. It is both healthy and easy to prepare and that might be some of the reasons why it is so popular.
Another typical Danish food is licorice. We Danes love licorice, and during the last couple of years its popularity has only increased. Danes especially like it in candy and also in alcohol, for example shots with licorice.
The taste of fennel is often compared to the taste of licorice. It has a very special taste and it is actually very difficult to explain what it tastes like. It is very common among European countries and especially in Scandinavia.
Licorice is definitely worth trying if you have not tasted it before. And if you already have tasted it, find someone who has not, and watch their facial expressions when they try it for the first time. That is absolutely worth it!