We don't have that many traditions left in our royal kingdom of Denmark, and the European Union is certainly making a big effort trying to convert the entire countries of Europe into one gigantic, bland mess. The EU is just like throwing everything you find in the fridge into the food processor: nothing good will come out of it, the ingredients are too different-- some spicy, some almost rotten. the result is awful and makes you throw up.
But one tradition is still held high: in Denmark real men love a real wetlunch (Donald Draper, I wuv you)
This time of year we don't do exotic crap like sushi or Indian or other silly dishes that crossed our borders within the last decades. We want a sturdy, homecooked, traditional feast just like our great grandmothers made it. Sometimes when the hunger bites into our throbbing tongues and we're fed up with lady finger sandwiches at contemporary Copenhagen cafes, my (male) friends and I meet up at a traditional lunch place and order the silver plate lunch.
(above: bad cellphone pic of 3 kinds of herring).
With lots of beer and snaps-- in a place full of old people who get their drank on and start to sway on their way to the lavatory-- it's good fun.
And this ritual is repeated at home at the dining room table as well-- especially during the winter holidays where the whole family is gathered. Nevermind supper, when you start eating and drinking at 1pm until all your holes start leaking, you pass out by 7pm and sleep until the next morning.
Here's a small selection of what my mom whipped up this season:
It's good behaviour to start with the selection of herring. This is pickled spicy herring with red onions.
Fried herring with white onion (traditional Danish fish bowl).
Ok, so here's how you make your piece of "smørrebrød":
Take a piece of freshly baked rye bread-- lots of grains and heavyness.
Cover with butter.
Place pickled herring and sliced red onions.
Actually, I forgot. Butter is for wimps, real men smear fat(!) on their bread.
Fat with small pieces of roasted pig skin for extra flavour. Your veins are wrinkling up in disgust, but it's yumzers. More umami.
After the first bite, it is tradition to cheer in Schnapps (not the American fruity kind, but the European - think vodka but sweeter, rounder with lots of herbal undertones with a strong afterkick). It is always kept in the freezer and only taken out minutes before we sit down to eat. It has its own cooling bucket with elegant red isolation to keep it super icy.
We're drinking a Bommerlunder-- a German/Danish schnapps from old times, very popular. Even though you drink it ice cold, a sudden warmth rises in your blood veins a splitsecond after you empty your glass.
You pour it into small V-shaped glasses.
The glass must become dewey to make sure it's cold enough. Women usually bite it (drink half) if they have any class (I'm talking to you, Kayoko) while men drink it all in one slurp if they have any class.
You also drink beer, and I hate the bitter stuff, but you can't take yourself serious drinking water at a Real Man's Wet Lunch so I try to enjoy my (cheap) Slots Pilsner ("Castle beer").
When you're done with all the different kinds of herring you move on into the leverpostej-department (it's pork paté but less spicy). It is served warm with roasted champignons and fried bacon (I forgot to take a pic of the bacon).
Again, you whip up the butter on bread again and top it with leverpostej.
If you wanna go wild you place a pickled beetroot on top.
And you end up with a complex taste, sour, sweet, very warm and meaty but with the grains of the bread to make it fresh and crunchy.
There's also kaviar-rand, a dish made of red fish eggs and more.
And a special creme fraiche dressing to dip the bread in.
Then we have sylte (souse /head cheese) which is, to quote Wikipedia: "Head cheese is not a cheese but a meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig".
You eat it with mustard and if you find a whole calf's eye in the sylte, you win a prize.
There's a whole range of lunch dishes for a holiday like this but we stopped here and took a walk instead.
Soon we'll be making apple juice from these little babies. Can't wait till spring.