Denmark's Fresh, Simple Cuisine

By Joyce Hendley, M.S., "Northern Light," May/June 2008

Discover this country's flavorful, minimalist cuisine.

Until I married into a Danish family, my knowledge of that country's cuisine was limited to the buttery, flaky pastries called "Danish" everywhere but in Denmark (where they're known as Wienerbrød, or "Vienna bread," to honor their Austrian origins). After all, beyond ham, butter and a few cheeses like blue and havarti, few Danish specialties usually make it to American tables. But after many visits to my in-laws' kitchens and gardens, I've discovered a sophisticated and varied cuisine with a healthier side that seems more Northern California than Northern Europe.

Cooking and eating the Danish way is all about simplicity, with minimal seasoning and fuss. Danes have always been passionate about fresh produce at its peak of ripeness. When I ask for a recipe from my mother-in-law, Hanne Lumholdt, I'm always amazed at how brief the instructions are from this accomplished cook. "Brown it in a little vegetable oil," she'll say, "and when it's done, sprinkle on a little salt and pepper." But I've learned that this simplicity is a refined art in itself. It honors fine ingredients by doing little to them, letting pure flavors come through without heavy sauces or complicated cookery.

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