Monday, 28 April 2014

foods: what I miss and what I've gained

I have a complex relationship with the food here in Denmark. I've had some delicious meals, no doubt. I'm a member of an organic vegetable co-op, so I know I'm getting delicious, wholesome veggies every week, and in summer the amount of berries, wild garlic and other edibles that grow locally (thank you, sunshine!) is pretty fruitful. Bad pun, sorry. I also purchase a lot of delicious pastries, probably my favourite food thing about the country. Weinerbrod is king.

Organic items are easily available here. Organic honey, shampoos, breads, fruit, jam, and dairy products. You name it, they have the organic version of it. Whole sections of the supermarket dedicated to '√łkologisk' produce. It's really fantastic.

And yet...

There's something lacking about my food experience here in Denmark.

The supermarkets are often of poor quality, dirty, smell strongly of stale beer, and are very expensive. I find myself spending a lot time wandering the aisles, looking for good quality, reasonably priced goods, and nearly always being disappointed. This is an issue I discuss with nearly every Dane I meet. And nearly all of them agree with me.

Danes, for all their hyggelig good vibes and love of a good time, simply don't seem to value high quality meat, or vegetables. Finding good quality pork is practically impossible (unless you go directly to the source and volunteer on an organic pig farm, which I did!). Processed sandwich spreads, snacks, softdrinks prevail. But very little fresh wholesome real food. It's a shame. It's something I don't understand, and wish I could change.

Enough with the negative, now here's all that I love about food in Denmark!

Irish food, on the other hand...

Some of the gems of Irish food are (ahem ahem):

Soda bread, brack (Halloween soft bread with raisins and other fruit in it, great with butter), real tea (I'm talking Barrys, Lyons or Bewleys, rich and golden with a drop, or more, of milk), dairy products so fresh they make your brain fuzzy, delicious lamb, beef, free range eggs with rich yellow yolks, a dozen or more varieties of potatoes, rich cheddars, fruity and tangy chutneys, black pudding, Irish sausages, heritage apple varieties, and berries in the summer. Much of our food is British (we were British for a very long time) but with an Irish twist, so when I moved to the UK it was funny to learn that some things, like the sausages for example, taste completely different.

Irish supermarkets are fairly good. More and more their marketing is focusing on 'buy Irish', particularly important for our economic after the recession, and local produce gets pride of place in many small local supermarkets.. My local supermarket, where I worked stacking shelves one summer, is always full of familiar faces. It's friendly, buzzing with chatter, and best of all, always has special offers on the chocolate. If there's one thing you want when you go to the shop, it's a bar of Cadbury's. 

I love Irish food, and I love the option of readily available organic food in Denmark. I'm looking forward to experimenting more as the summer brings exciting foods to Denmark, but I'm also patiently waiting for the day when I move back to Ireland, have a wonderfully stocked kitchen, and can find all the ingredients I need exactly when I need them.

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