Denmark's Fresh, Simple Cuisine

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

Discover this country's flavorful, minimalist cuisine.

The art comes in assembling what Danes call the pålæg, or "what is laid on top." It can be as simple as last night's leftovers, carefully assembled to complement flavors, colors and textures—or as elaborate and prescribed as the Stjerneskud ("shooting star") topping: fried fish and cooked shrimp with caviar, lemon slices and dill. The toppings can be abundant, but never messy; "overstuffed," thankfully, hasn't made its way into the Danish sandwich lexicon. Though in Denmark they're considered strictly lunch fare, in my own household smørrebrød often become tasty impromptu dinners and in smaller portions, spectacularly easy appetizers.

Aamann's, a casually elegant spot near the Danish National Gallery, is renowned for a fresh, modern approach to smørrebrød. There, I chose a smørrebrød with house-smoked eel, asparagus, pink grapefruit and a soft-boiled quail egg, with extra asparagus on the side. Though it was tempting to have a seat in the pretty, light-filled room, I thought about the green spaces of the nearby Botanic Garden, and in my best "Danglish" ordered til takeaway instead. It just wouldn't be Danish to savor those first tastes of spring anywhere else but under the sun that gave them life.

—Contributing editor Joyce Hendley is the author of The EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook and co-author of The EatingWell Diet.

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