Making Smørrebrød, lunch of Danish Champions.
Hanging out with my Airbnb hosts one day, we got into a conversation surrounding food — they had just gotten a new grill that we were testing out, and we had each purchased our own ingredients to grill, then eat together. The differences in our respective choices got us to talking about national foods and how our countries are represented by what we eat. This all of course digressed into us cooking meals for one another (because at heart we really just want to eat all the time): me making something traditionally American for them, them making something traditionally Danish for me.
We both put a lot of thought into what we thought best represented our respective countries. I couldn’t think of anything easily produceable that was truly American and not already available for sale in a restaurant somewhere in Denmark. Hamburgers? No — too many restaurants sell them. Hot Dogs? No — every single country I've been in has their own special variation on the hot dog. Apple Pie? No — as much as i want it to be, pie is not dinner. In the end, what I decided on wasn't even really important (for the insatiably curious, I went with my personal best recipe of my Mom's curry recipe, rather than an actually American food. Gah, what a cop-out). Their contribution to this exchange dwarfed my own.
My hosts decided on smørrebrød, the decidedly traditional open-faced rye bread sandwiches that Danes eat every day for lunch. These two never do anything half-assed, so they created a tasting menu of five different classic varieties, all of which they collected the ingredients for and helped me assemble for myself in what was one of the major highlights of my trip. So passing on my learning experience to you, here’s a rough summary of this selection of smørrebrød:
Start with Rugbrød (Rye Bread) base for all of them, buttered all the way to the edges — don't skimp on the butter.
Roast Beef, remoulade, fried onions, horseradish, baby green garnish
Karrysild (Curried Pickled Herring), tomatoes, red onions, microgreen garnish
Soft boiled egg, mayonnaise, Crawfish (shrimp also acceptable), lemon, radish slices, baby green garnish
Lettuce leaf, Rullepølse (Rolled Sausage), red onion, pepper, microgreen garnish
Leverpostej (Pork Liver Spread), bacon, mushrooms, cucumber slides, chives