Denmark's Fresh, Simple Cuisine

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

Discover this country's flavorful, minimalist cuisine.

On a bright spring day I pushed my way past thickets of parked bicycles and well-dressed sun worshippers at café tables along Copenhagen's Gråbrødre­torv (Grey­friars' Square). I didn't need a phrasebook to understand what Danes were craving at the moment. At one café a young mother coaxed her daughter to sip some of her asparagus soup; at another, an older gentleman was eating an open-faced sandwich of asparagus topped with baby shrimp. Nearby a couple shared a plate of thick white asparagus stalks dusted with grated hard-cooked egg yolks.

"Danes are crazy about asparagus and we're even crazier about new potatoes," explained a waitress as she delivered a tray of Bloody Marys garnished with asparagus stalks. "We waited for this all winter. Besides," she added, citing folk wisdom, "it's supposed to be bad luck to eat asparagus after Saint John's Eve [June 23], so we have to eat it all now."

Denmark is nearly as far north as Juneau, Alaska, so in June the sun is up by 5 a.m. and sets as late as 10 p.m. All this abundant sunlight is close to intoxicating for the Danes. It's also the best time, I think, to experience Danish food at its most exuberant. Indeed, "seize the moment" might be the operative phrase to describe the intense Danish midsummer.

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