Will Work For Food

August 19, 2012 Comments Off on Will Work For Food

This is probably the most appropriately titled post I’ll ever write. Need I say more?

One of the reasons I chose to volunteer on organic farms was to get closer to food, to witness first-hand how it’s produced and consumed. Food is one of my favorite ways to learn about foreign cultures. Food contains so many stories. I believe you can learn from food where a culture has been and where it’s headed.

And, to be honest, I just love to eat. Who am I kidding? I live to eat.

I decided to abandon all self-imposed dietary restrictions while traveling. I realized that in order to fully experience local cuisines and in order to be a good guest, I had to eat whatever was put in front of me. So I’ve eaten more meat and butter in the last three weeks than I have in the last four years. It’s a bit strange. These aren’t the kinds of foods I’d choose on my own. But I haven’t had a bad meal on this trip yet.

I’d like to share some of the culinary delights in Scandinavia that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience. The food here is fascinating and inspiring to me. Lots of ingredients and preparations absent in American cooking. There’s also a definite clash of old and new ways.

I’ve wanted to write about food for a long time. Expect more of these posts in the future. Here, I concentrate on my time in the Danish countryside.

–Rye bread is ubiquitous in Scandinavia. It’s also one of my current obsessions. I can’t seem to get enough of it these days. I gorged myself on my Danish hosts’ homemade hearty sourdough rye at most meals.

–Favorite breakfast, other than slices of rye with butter and Havarti or homemade raspberry jam? Raw oats and farm-fresh milk with a drizzle of either dandelion syrup or rosehip syrup.

–New favorite vegetarian meal: a grilled steak of halmoui and a simple salad on the side.

–Rosehip syrup, by the way, makes an excellent soda as well. Simply add carbonated water.

–Brown and parsley sauces over meat entrees. About as basic as it gets in Danish country cooking.

–Smorrebrod, or open-faced sandwiches on thin slices of rye bread, smeared with butter. It’s the quintessential Danish lunch or light dinner. Typical toppings range from smoked or cured meats (mackerel, fish pate, or my hosts’ smoked pork and sausages) to hardboiled eggs and Havarti. Endless possibilities abound.

–One of my final meals and most pleasant memories on the farm: a slab of homespun pork pate and a salad comprised of ingredients that had been in the family’s garden only two hours earlier. With plenty of the family’s own feta thrown in. Eaten outdoors on a sunny Scandinavian summer day, overlooking the neighboring farm’s field of sheep. Koko escaped from her pen earlier that day, which provided some nice lunchtime entertainment. Except for when she shit herself next to the table where we sat.

–One of my hosts took the large quantities of currant juice and boiled them down to a concentrated juice. Which makes for an excellent glass of juice or soda.

–A glass of punchy and amber-hued elderflower wine before dinner one evening.

–Electric gold chanterelles, foraged a few miles away, in cream.

–The thickest slabs of bacon I’ve ever seen.

–Soft-cooked, farm-fresh eggs, eaten the European way: in a little dish and slurped with a teaspoon.

–Wild sorrel grew in many areas on my hosts’ property. It was the first time I’d ever picked up something off the ground and ate it straight. It tasted clean and bright. It smelled strongly of lemon zest.

**Yeah, I use the words “homemade” and “farm-fresh” a lot here. I couldn’t help it.

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