Lakrids. The Danish Root (of all evil).

DDH (Dear Danish husband) and I were out on the town on Friday night to see the (excellent) WhoMadeWho at (the best concert venue in the whole world) Vega. WhoMadeWho not ringing any bells?  See WhoMadeWho - Who? Here we go again!

Anyways, DDH and I managed to fit in a quick dinner before the concert at Madsvinet (literally "The Food Hog") which, appropriately enough, is housed in an old butchers shop in Vesterbro.  Despite the white tiled walls and meat hooks it's very hyggelig - with long, communal benches and an open kitchen.   You know the type of place - two starters to choose from, two mains, two desserts - at a fair price.  Good, 'solid' food, as the Danes say.  Very nicely presented and selvfølgelig with 'the Nordic touch'.  Oh yes, remember the New Nordic Potato Chip? ;)

I knew as soon as the evening's menu was presented to us that my arch enemy was present.  Lakrids!  Liquorice!  Yep, liquorice is the new black.  Well, obviously, it's always been black.  But you get my drift.  Those crazy Danes love the stuff: salty liquorice, sweet liquorice, 'ammonia' liquorice.  Yeuch! 8O


But not only do the Danes eat tons of liquorice candy, they - unfortunately for moi - insist on adding that dang root to tea, coffee, biscuits, cakes, flødeboller, sorbet and icecream.  "Hey!  If it doesn't move, let's sprinkle it with liberal amounts of liquorice dust!"

So I new what was coming Friday night.  Liquorice was first out of the box as an ingredient in the homemade bread that came along with my starter of sweetbreads. Thankfully the liquorice was drowned out by the malt taste of the bread.  Oh, and see the 'roof tile' plate below? Another new black in the Danish restaurant business!


My entrecôte with beetroot, radish and onions was liquorice free.  Phew!  And excruciatingly good! 


Dessert - buttermilk sorbet with rhubarb and meringues - with all its little black flecks, looked scary.  But the black dots turned out to be vanilla.  Not the Dreaded Black Root. So I only had to avoid the "liquorice-toasted-porridge-oats" strewn across the plate...


All in all, I suppose I got off pretty lightly.  You like Danish liquorice?  Keep it!

Diane :)

 

Donald Duck, a Swede and a blonde walk into a bar...

I've never quite understood the Danish mania for Anders And - Donald Duck.  But my DDH (dear Danish husband), DS14 (dear son, 14) and DD12 (dear daughter, 12) are real nerds and never tire of reading (and re-reading for the umpteenth time...) the comics.



I've lost count of the number of Jumbobøger ("Jumbo" books - comics in paperback format) we've acquired over the years.


And our weekly magazine subscription is slowly taking over DD's bedroom and oozing down into the basement...


I never read the comics myself.  Though I always, always check out the "Helt til Grin" (jokes) section! :D


The jokes are pretty straightforward.  And often fall into the same categories.  For example, teacher/pupil jokes...
"Læreren til Ole: Hvis jeg havde en hund, og den fik 6 hvalpe, og jeg gav dig to af dem, hvor mange hunde ville du så have?

Ole: Tre

Læreren: Hvad? Hvorfor det?

Ole: Jeg havde en i forvejen..."

"Teacher to Ole: If I had a dog and it had 6 puppies, and I gave you two of them, how many dogs would you then have?

Ole: Three

Teacher: What? Why?

Ole: I already had a dog to begin with..."

The obligatory blonde jokes...
"To blondiner mødes. Den ene har en stor sportstaske med!

- Hvad har du i tasken, spørger den ene!

- Kyllinger!

- Okay, hvis jeg kan gætte, hvor mange du har, må jeg så få en?

- Hvis du gætter det, får du dem begge...

- Okay, så gætter jeg på tre!"

"Two blondes meet. One of them has a large sportsbag!

- What have you got in your back, asks one!

- Chickens!

- Okay, if I can guess how many there are, will you give me one?

- If you guess right, you can have them both...

- Okay, I think there are three!"

And - selvfølgelig - jokes about our lovely neighbours across the water, the Swedes...
"Ved du, hvordan man holder en svensker beskæftiget i timevis?

Man giver ham et stykke papir og skriver "vend" på begge sider!"

"How do you keep a Swede occupied for hours on end?

Give him a piece of paper with "turn over" written on it!"


Not forgetting our fellow Scandinavians, the Norwegians!
"Gud havde egentligt tænkt, at Jesus skulle fødes i Norge. Der var bare et problem, som gjorde, at han måtte flytte det hele til Mellemøsten. Han kunne ikke find tre vise mænd..."

"God had actually planned for Jesus to be born in Norway.  But there was a problem which meant that he had to move the whole thing to the Middle East. He couldn't find three wise men..."¨

Or my personal favourite from this week's magazine:
"Hvor mange nordmænd, skal der til for at vaske en bil? Tó! Én til at holde svampen, mens den anden kører bilen frem og tilbage!"

"How many Norwegians does it take to wash a car?  Two! One to hold the sponge while the other one drives the car forwards and backwards!"

Hope you ha-ha-have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

Spring fever? Hay fever!

Hope you all had a nice Easter?  The weather here was fantastic - sunny and (mostly) dry.  My tootsies even got their first airing in flipflops!


Everything is blooming in the garden and I've been weeding, pruning and potting like crazy... 


People are out on their bikes, scooters, skateboards, waveboards and pennyboards. Or how about the old gent I spied this morning on the cycle path, who was kicking it old school style on rollerblades! :D


It's now open season for schoolkids to be out in the forests and parks for gym class and sports day.  This lucky class got the extra "pleasure" of watching me and my winterbathing buddies take our skinny dip this morning! ;)


Yep, big and small, everyone is out and about.  Seeing the 'crocodile' of kids from the local nursery on their morning walk always brings a tear to my eye!


But talking of teary eyes...  All this fabulous weather means that pesky pollen is having a riot! And on Monday we had a new Danish record for birch.  4,696.  Yikes!  My poor DDH (dear Danish husband) and DS14 (dear son, 14) have been suffering for days.  I don't have allergies as such, but that dang pollen affects my asthma and makes my nose run...  Pass the hankies, please!


Have a [blows nose] wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :)

Denmark is closing for Easter! Buy! Buy! Buy!

If you're new to Denmark, then you had better stop frittering away your time on the internet.  Get out RIGHT NOW and stock up!  Yep, the Danes celebrate Easter in big style and the country will basically shut down on Wednesday night.  Despite being very low-key about religion, Denmark will be closed Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.  Completely closed.  Imagine that…the shops are closed for more days than over Christmas!  Schools, council offices and businesses are also closed. Libraries and post offices too (plus don't expect to receive mail or parcels).  Museums, your local swimming pool and fitness club may have special opening hours. Buses and trains may be running on 'holiday' schedules.  Check before you head out!  And the streets are deserted...  Easter is not the time to visit Denmark! ;)


So you have to do your grocery shopping NOW.  Stock up big time. And if possible, avoid Wednesday - that's the biggest shopping day of the year aside from the last shopping days before Christmas.  Pretty amazing when you consider that people are only buying food and drink - not a Christmas present in sight!  If you forget to stock up, you’ll need to hop over the Sound to Sweden (they’re open for business as usual on Thursday).  Or prepare to run the gauntlet on Saturday.

And what do the Danes actually do on all these holy holidays?

Well, they don’t go to church, that’s for sure (they save that for Christmas.)  No, Easter is the time to eat, drink and be merry with family or friends.  To get out in the garden.  And get the garden furniture out (if you didn't do it when we changed to summertime on 30 March) .  Do some DIY.  Get busy down at the allotment or open up your summer house and hope for fantastic spring weather...


Me?  I’ll be doing a mixture of the above: a bit of gardening, an Easter egg hunt and friends coming to stay.  Lots of eating and drinking.  So I’m already stocked up with the Danish Easter essentials.  And what do the Danes eat?  Lamb selvfølgelig.  Lots of påskebryg (Easter beer) and snaps.  And the ubiquitous array of foods that you will see at Danish lunches (see my Christmas Advent Calendar post). Rejer (prawns), sild (herring), varm leverpostej (hot liverpâté), various meats like flæskesteg (roast pork) and rullepølse (rolled pork),  One of my own faves is tarteletter (tart cases filled with a mixture of chicken and asparagus).  Look here for more about them.

Get them while they're hot!


There'll be lots of cheese.  Dainty biscuits and chocolates/chocolate eggs.  Or you might want to serve this yummy Danish mazarinkage (marcipan cake).  Takes only 5 minutes to put together if you have a kitchen mixer!  My recipe is here.


And now?  Let us pray.  And hope the Danish weather gods are with us! 



Skål!  God Påske!

Diane  :)

Gæk, gæk, gæk? Guess your way to an Easter egg!

My kids will be on Easter break from Friday.  Woo hoo - no more pesky packed lunches for the next week!  (For them, school restarts Tuesday 22 April.)


And that - selvfølgelig - means it's time for a traditional Danish Easter craft: making a gækkebrev - a secret snowdrop letter!  For which we'll need a vintergæk (snowdrop).  Though - as we're well into April - Danish snowdrops have basically gone into hiding again, so we may need to improvise.  Now, did you know that gækkebreve are a purely Danish tradition?  I thought it was a Scandinavian thing.  But no.  It's a crazy Dane thing.  And right now, as I type, little kids all over Denmark are sitting at home (or nursery, school, the museum or local library) cutting holes in paper and drawing lots of dots.  All in the hope of getting a chocolate Easter egg!  More on the logistics of that later in the post...  First up, let's get making one! :)


You’ll need:

  • white and coloured paper

  • glue or a gluestick

  • a pair of scissors

  • a snowdrop 



Choose a coloured piece of paper for your paper ‘doily’. Fold it in half, then in half again.  Draw a rough shape and cut out.  If you’ve never done this kind of thing before, keep it simple!  The Danes are world-famous for their intricate papercutting.  Hans Christian Andersen (you know, the one who wrote "The Ugly Duckling", "The Little Match Girl", "The Princess and the Pea", "The Emperor's New Clothes", "Thumbelina" etc, etc, etc...) was also an expert at papercutting.  I’ve only lived here for 16 years, so I’m still learning…


Open up up the paper and you should have something that looks like this.


Stick it on to a plain white piece of paper. I used a gluestick.  And it’s fine if it isn’t perfectly stuck down all over – it just gives it an even better 3d effect ;)



Then you're ready to write a little poem on it.
Henne bag ved havens hæk, fandt jeg denne vintergæk.

Hej, min hvide lille ven, nu er turen din igen.

Du skal gå til min ven, hviske så kan kan forstå,

han må gætte prikke små, for et påskeæg at få!

 

But if your family and friends aren’t Danish, you’ll probably want one in English, right? Try this one for size:
 

Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,

Omen true of hope divine,

From the heart of winter bring

Thy delightful hope of spring.

Guess my name I humbly beg.

Your reward: An Easter-Egg.

Let these puzzling dots proclaim

Every letter in my name

 

Now listen carefully.  [I shall say this only once...]  At the bottom of the gækkebrev, DON'T sign your name.  You draw a large dot for every letter of your name.  So my name, Diane, would be  . . . . .    If the person who receives the letter guesses who it comes from, you have to give them an Easter egg.  But if they can’t guess, they have to give you an Easter egg.  So disguise your handwriting and be creative!  I usually put in three dots for M.U.M.!  ;)

The final touch is to pick a snowdrop from your garden - just draw one if need be - add it to the letter and send to a friend or loved one.   And keep your fingers crossed that they don’t guess who it’s from…
 


 

God Påske!  Happy ......!

Diane :)

I swear I heart Denmark!

If you're a regular reader, you'll know that my blog (hey, make that my general outlook on life) is a "No Whining!" zone.  Positive!  Upbeat!  Optimistic!  Sunny!  As the Flylady says, "Enjoy what you do.  And do what you enjoy!"  Which, in my case, selvfølgelig involves the words "skinny dipping" and "cold water"... :)


I mean, come on, really...  Who wants to end up as one of those twisted and sad "my-life-revolves-around-leaving-negative-comments-on-social-media" kind of people?  Or, as is very common in the blogging world, the disgruntled expat, whose greatest joy is telling you what they (love to...) hate (about Denmark) and listing all the things that were oh so much better "back home"?  Yikes!

But...  [Ha!  Yes, you knew there was a "but" coming!]  But, okay, if you put a gun to my head and I had to name one - just one - little, itty, bitty thing that I dislike about Denmark, it would have to be the F-word.  Call me old fashioned.  I hate swearing.  Just ask my kids.  "Yes, Mum, we hear you!  Swearing shows a lack of vocabulary!"  In fact, the only time when you will ever (ever) hear me swear is down at the beach on the days when take-my-breath-away sea temperatures gang up with hold-on-to-your-hats storm force winds.  So it's not really skinny dipping but more like being pummelled with rolling pins and stabbed by a thousand knives...  ;)

But I digress!  Yep, the F-word is rife here.  You see and hear it in the Danish media.   All.  The.  Time.  I remember seeing "F**k" in a newspaper headline, lit up in giant neon lights at Rådhuspladsen (the town council square).  You'll hear it in the playground at børnehave (nursery).  And not just from the kids, but also their parents.  Ouch!   What about that Danish theatre play with the oh-so-catchy title, "Jeg, mig, f**k dig!"?  (I, me, f*ck you!)  Oh, and will you be watching Eurovision, live from Copenhagen, next month?  Don't worry, you can relax when you hear the Danish entry, Basim, "Cliché Love Song".   Luckily for us, they've changed the original chorus of "a f**cking cliché love song"... 


...to the more demure "another cliché love song". Phew! 



So with all those F-words flying around, I suppose I really shouldn't have been toooooo surprised when this advert appeared on TV2 Zulu the other night.  What is it for?  Chocolate milk from Cult.  But not chocolate milk as we know it, Jim.  A high caffeine, energy type one.  With the oh-so-catchy name "Jeg er ik' bare en f**king kakao".  (I'm not just a f**cking chocolate milk.)  Um, really?  Who's behind the advertising campaign - a bunch of 5th graders? :P

Not enough F-words for you?  Then try their dedicated Facebook page - click here - though don't say I didn't warn you!

 

I'd like one bottle of chocolate milk.  And could you put it in a brown paper bag for me, please?

Diane :)

 

You know you're in Denmark when... (Baby comes too!)

You know you're in Denmark when... 

Okay, so y'all know that Danish babies sleep outside in their prams or barnevogne, "child wagons", as they're called here.  I told you before that a French friend of mine nearly fainted when she found out.  "It's barbaric!"  My Mum actually did the same with me in Scotland in the summer.  But here in Denmark they do it all year round.  In the deep mid-winter.  When it's raining.  Snowing.  You name the inclement weather - we have it - Danish babies sleep outside in it.  Just remember to dress Baby Viking accordingly.  Keeping in mind the Danish motto: There's no such thing as bad weather.  Only the wrong clothing!  Though selvfølgelig the Danish health authorities don't recommend that Baby Viking sleeps outside when ill.  Or if the outside temperature drops below minus 10c/14f  ;)


Above you can see my DS14 (dear son, 14) when he was about a year old, together with a friend from creche.  When our DKs (dear kids) were small, they slept in a pram which I parked in our garden.  People who live in flats often have an old, extra pram permanently parked on their balcony, so the baby can get their daily nap. And at vuggestue (creche) they'll often have specially built, large wooden cribs for the kids.  The cribs are parked in a shed when the weather is particulary nasty.  Our two kids were sent off every day with their favourite small duvet/comforter and pillow.  Hyggeligt!  And sleeping outside usually means that they take a l-o-v-e-l-y,   l-o-n-g,  h-e-a-l-t-h-y  nap!

But, as usual, I digress...  Now, just because you have a baby doesn't mean that you can't get around Copenhagen.  On the contrary.  Baby always comes too!  The buses have space for a couple of prams.  And prams here can be  r-e-a-l-l-y  b-i-g.  You get on via the middle doors of the bus.  And ring the "pram" bell when you get off - so that the driver knows to allow you extra time when disembarking your tank...


The Metro and S-tog (Subway) trains have specially assigned areas for parking prams and bikes. 


 You'll find those carriages at the front and back ends of the train.


Want to browse the shops?  No problem!  Baby comes too!  Get right in there!  Though it can get quite cramped sometimes when there are two or three prams vying for place...  [It can also lead to 'road wars' on the pavements when you are trying to manoeuvre past those giant prams.]



Baby is in the middle of a nap, or prams aren't allowed in a particular store?  Just point the pram towards the window of the shop and keep an eye out.  I had a hard time with this one in the beginning.  Funnily enough, I always took my *valuables* out of the pram.  'Cos I was more concerned about someone stealing my shopping than my baby... :P


Where are the Mum and Dad of these Viking Twin Babies?  Inside the café, on the other side of the window.



Yep, those crazy Danes have it all sewn up.  Or should that be snuggly tucked in?  So you fancy living in Denmark?  Babies no obstacle!

Diane :)