The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Friday, 6 January 2012

Christmas in the land of the fairies

"And another Christmas is over" as my grand-mother would have said. I always feel quite sad about it. Our tree looks so nice that I might be considering the idea of keeping it till Easter (in my sister's style). But I guess it would simply be wrong - and very weird.

On the contrary of most English people who take their decorations down today, we celebrate the 6th January being Epiphany, the day the Three Kings, who got slightly lost or were very slow, arrived to the manger and gave their gifts to Jesus. In some parts of Italy in fact this is the real day when presents are exchanged - whilst Christmas is only dedicated to food and drinking.


In Tuscany we have a little old woman who brings gifts to children on that day. Sweets to the good children and coal to the naughty ones. So in the best of its tradition we will be having friends around tonight to swim in a feast of chocolate and cakes and relax in front of the fire dipping in our stockings.

With still this festive feeling around me I give you a slice of our fairy-tale adventure in Denmark and share a wonderful meal that every family there has on 25th December.



The meal starts with smorrebrod, literally "buttered sandwich. Smorrebrods have very poor and paysant origins when country side families try to finish up their long-lasting dry ingredients like rye which was at the base of their bread. A solid, earthy and honest bread that seems to go well both with savoury and sweet accompaniments. So on festive days families used to embellish this bread by piling simple ingredients like onion rings, pickles, boiled eggs and cheese.

Slowly it developed into something more and more fancy so much that anything from caviar, smoked salmon, herrings, chicken liver pate etc can appear. I love both the fishy and the meaty ones. I would just eat them non-stop. Lunch and dinner - despite being a mainly lunch affair.

So going back to our Danish Christmas meal. It starts with fishy smorrebrods - after having spread a thin layer of fat, you pile up herring fillets, pickles, onions and chunks of beetroot. Then comes the one with a salad made with more herrings, beetroots, mayonnaise and topped with hard boiled eggs. Traditionally schnaps are drunk, one after the other...I suspect some might not get to the end of the meal....

Frikkadellen, pork, beef or veal meat balls mixed with chopped onions, eggs, milk, bread crumbs and salt & pepper, come served with a creamy white cabbage (which I liked to my great surprise as I normally loath any form of cabbage). The meaty smorrebrod then follow - chicken liver pate with ham and gelatin were my favourite...even with the wobbly red jelly. No wine is allowed - they all seem to think it would be wasted. Beer instead (Carslberg of course!) goes perfectly with them.

The finale was a vanilla perfumed rice pudding with crushed almonds and served with a warm cherry sauce which made me think of mild Summers in the Danish countryside. The contrast of warm and cold was lovely!

Thank you Mette for such a wonderful Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. I love smorrebrod! I remember when I spent the last Kronens in these little open sandwich. Thank you for the nice photos too! And happy new year!