Sunday, December 07, 2008

Broadening the horizons with food

Danish food is pretty boring most of the time. Pork and potatoes make up the majority of the cuisine. And then there is the ubiquitous brown sauce. Brown sauce is basically milk with the addition of "brown sauce" which comes in a bottle. I think it's salt, beef stock, cornstarch, and brown food coloring. The exciting food comes out for special occasions. This includes pickled herring and spiced red cabbage.  Danish cuisine is also the only in the world where potato chips are served in a bowl as a side dish.  With a serving spoon!!

There are GREAT danish meals, you just don't see them all that often.

That's probably a good thing, I don't think my arteries would survive long if I kept eating pork with crackling.

So I learned to cook, for survival reasons if nothing else. A person cannot survive on broiled pork, boiled potatoes and brown sauce alone.

Foreign food in Denmark is also kind of a crap shoot. There are immigrants to Denmark and, as can be expected, most nationalities bring their cuisine with them. (This is why the best Indian food you can get outside of India is in England.) You can get pretty good shwarma in Denmark. However, and this is only my theory, you do not get really good foreign cuisine in Denmark because the emphasis on immigration in Denmark is assimilation. "New" Danes often out-Danish the Danish in order to be accepted. Which means the foreign food around these parts gets dumbed down to fit Danish palates. It's probably a good sales tactic, you need to be able to sell your food to the largest customer base, which are "real" Danes, but it means BLAND food.

One of the excuses for piss poor foreign cuisine in Arhus is that it's a small big city. But that's a stupid excuse. Arhus is one of the better cities to get a really good meal in, there are numerous restaurants. But almost all of them serve variations on Danish cuisine. There are also plenty of immigrants and other foreigners, so no shortage of alternative cultures. But when opening a restaurant, it seems that all the spices are thrown out the window. I've had amazingly bland Mexican, Indian, and Chinese food. "Italian" means tomato paste and béchamel sauce, but no Italian sausage or ricotta cheese. It's enough to make a person cry.

So I learned to cook foreign cuisine. Desperation will lead a person to do crazy things. Like walking a mile for ricotta cheese. Back before the supermarket in Ebeltoft started selling ricotta cheese (and when we still lived there), I once drove an hour in each direction for said food item. I really wanted to make lasagna. I also learned to mix my own italian sausage. Yup, I'm nuts.

My Danish boy is reaping the benefit of my endeavors.

Recently I've been craving some down home American food. American cuisine you ask, what's that, burgers and fries? Pshaw, people, ponder for a moment. Cornbread. Biscuits. Anything made in a skillet. Pie.

So there was the fried chicken dinner of a few nights ago. And last night I made biscuits to go with the leftovers.

I can understand that my husband had never eaten cornbread before he met me. But biscuits?!? I can't believe that in the five years we've been together he's never eaten biscuits.

For the record, my husband has now eaten biscuits and he likes them very very much.  Next on my list: stew with dumplings.


  1. Goodness...all this blogging and where've I been? You are much better woman than I, as I believe I've mentioned from time to time. You'd think by now my love of Indian food would've forced me to learn how to cook some of it. Especially since I discovered that I wouldn't have to make Naan because Safeway now has a very respectable international food department. Hmmm...I do need to go grocery shopping tomorrow...maybe I'll find out what it would take to make rogan josh or something. You're an inspiration, love...

  2. Anonymous12:43 AM

    Hear hear and I'm the one who came all the way from Southeast Asia. The land of spice. I wanted to strangle myself during the first few months of my stay here in Denmark, but then, lo and behold, I learned how to cook :D


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