Pig breeding is a huge business in Denmark. Traditionally the best parts from the pigs have been reserved for export, the Danes have eaten the remains.
Therefore many traditional Danish dishes are based on those parts from the pigs.
The land of leverpostej
One of the Danish favourite dishes are called "leverpostej" liver pâté. It is made of chopped pig’s liver and fat, mixed with chopped onions, milk, eggs and flour and baked in the oven. The Danes use to eat the liver pâté cold, spread on slices of "rugbrød" – ryebread, another Danish speciality. In Danish that is called "leverpostejmadder". The Danes eat "leverpostejmadder" every day, and whole factories in Denmark are doing nothing else than producing liver pâté and ryebread.
Among other well known Danish dishes are ‘Stegt Flæsk med Persillesovs‘ – fried slices of pork with fat, served with parsley sauce and boiled potatoes.
Boiled potatoes are almost always an ingredient in the traditional danish kitchen. And so ‘Brun sovs og kartofler‘, – brown sauce with boiled potatoes – are something typical danish, often served with : fried pigs liver with fried chopped onions, ”stegt medister”, a thick sausage with minced pig meat and fat, spices and chopped onion, fried on the frying pan, or ”frikadeller”, fried balls of minced pig meat and fat, spices, chopped onions, milk, egs and flour or maybe even ‘Bøf med løg‘, fried balls of minced beef and fried chopped onions
It has to be said that it can be a bit difficult to find restaurants in Denmark – at least in the Capitol – who serves those dishes, but if you are visiting a private home that kind of food are normal, even if dishes from around the world are gaining a stronger and stronger influence on the Danish kitchen.
Coffee and Danish Pastry
Probably you know "Danish Pastry"? Cookies made of basically flour, fat and sugar with some extras. Well in Denmark its called "Wienerbrød", i.e. bread from Vienna, the Capitol of Austria.
All Danes loves wienerbrød. It is often eaten in the morning or at the beginning of the day. The workdays at the office, particulary the Fridays, are often started with a cup of coffee and a piece of wienerbrød.
Generally the coffee machine and the space around it is a very important social space in the office. And the Danes drink a lot of coffee.
Some kinds of wienerbrød have strange names. A popular sort of wienerbrød is the "Spandauer", it comes with marmalade or yellow pudding in the middle of the cookie. Among people the last mentioned version is called "Bagerens dårlige øje", i.e. the "Bakers bad eye".
But if you already know wienerbrød maybe its time to experiment a little?: a good alternative is the "Brunsviger" try it!
Typical Danish Fast Food
- Pølsevogn – Hot dog Stand -(right) on the Central Square in front of the City Hall, Copenhagen, summer 2003
Until the late 1970ties the Hotdog Stand was almost the only fast food option in Danish Cities. The hotdog stand is called a Pølsevogn – i.e. sausage-cart. It is a small kitchen on wheel, optimised for its purpose, preparing and serving sausages to hungry Danes.
The sausages are served by Pølsemænd – i.e. sausage-men – and, yes, almost always men. In the beginning of the day you can observe the men pulling the hotdog Stands to the stalls that they have obtained right to utilise. In the evening or night they are returning to the garage.
Basically you have two options: a sausage served with or without bread or a hotdog, a sausage served in a sliced bread with raw or fried chopped onions, mustard and ketchup.
The sausages comes in different variations and sizes basically fried or boiled. The Danes have had the custom of colouring the skin of the sausages so its possible to by ”røde pølser”, red sausages, a danish speciality!
The bread that comes with the sausages is white, soft and tasteless, and generally spoken it is, all in all, a rather tasteless experience. But a late evening or night after to many bars and beers a fried sausage with mustard and ketchup can be something of a relief.
Sausage carts were introduced in 1921 but are today a rapidly disappearing institution in the cityscape. Sausages are sold in many other places – even on filling stations – and the hot dog stands are superseded by US American burger chains, Italian pizza restaurants and small shops where immigrants from the Turkey and the Arab countries are selling fast food like the shawarma and the falaffel (vegetarian) sandwich.
If you want to try something else than sausages go for the last two options mentioned.