Sitting down to eat in Denmark promises new flavours, textures and concepts that are, in fact, not so new at all. Many of this Nordic nation’s culinary staples hark back to times before industrialisation and more recently, a ‘new Nordic’ food revolution has seen old techniques and ingredients re-emerge with a modern twist. Either way, these time-honoured favourites remain the key to a Dane’s heart and offer a true taste of Danish culture.
The official national dish of Denmark, stegt flaesk remains one of the oldest and most-loved recipes still being churned out of home kitchens and restaurants alike to this day – originating from a rustic Danish country kitchen in the 18th century. Made up of fried crispy pork similar to bacon and served with parsley sauce and potatoes, it is a must-try dish for travellers and a genuine favourite for locals.
Ollebrod translates as ‘beer bread’ – the two key ingredients to this bowl of thrifty goodness harking back to medieval times. It evolved from a time when Danish monks would dip slices of dense rye bread into their hot beers before it evolved into a dish frequently turned to for using up leftover bread scraps.
Today, it’s a breakfast-only affair – a hearty, bold, porridge-like concoction – traditionally flavoured with a dash of lemon or orange and served with a spoonful of cream. Modern takes see a low-alcohol brew (or none at all) used and sprinklings of sugar, cinnamon, hazelnuts or apple compote infusing culinary flair and flavour. While humble in origins, Ollebrod is big on taste.
What we know as the ‘Danish pastry’ falls under a wider term known as ‘wienerbrod’, which translates to ‘Viennese bread’. Make no mistake: eating wienerbrod is part of the nation’s culture.
Said to have been created by immigrant bakers from Vienna who brought their techniques to Denmark in the mid-19th century, there’s nowhere better to enjoy buttery mouthfuls of flaky sweet pastry every which way – from folded pastries with marzipan filling to the narrow, seed-speckled frosnapper and irresistible spirals of cinnamon, butter and iced sugar. Consider this an invitation to the world of real Danish pastry.
Further afield: 7 Unique Food Experiences in Europe
Gourmet offerings: Princess Cruises Sizzles at Sea
Preservation of fish has been a staple culinary practice since the Viking era. As a result, you’ll discover herring dished up in various ways all over Denmark and in the streetside herring stalls that have become a local institution.
Smoked herring comes from the island of Bornholm – otherwise known as the 'gold from the sea' and savoured since the late 1800s. Marinated or pickled herring is also a national indulgence, dating back to the Middle Ages and commonly enjoyed with akvavit (Danish snaps).
This classic summer dish has been the hallmark dessert since the end of the 19th century, which literally means ‘red berry pudding with cream’. Made of cooked red berries – whether raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, red currants or sometimes rhubarb – it is deliciously light and refreshing and can be served hot or cold, usually topped off with a side of ice-cold cream or milk. This national treat is always easy to find.
The classic Danish lunch? An open-faced sandwich featuring two cuts of buttered rye bread piled high with a wide range of ingredients. You’ll find smorrebrod on the menu at almost every Danish restaurant in Copenhagen – lining the cabinets in cafe windows and served as proudly in specialty restaurants. A concept thought to have originated from farmers and labourers in the 1840s, it can be enjoyed all the way up to gourmet standards with every topping under the sun, from meat to blue cheese, fruit and vegies to eggs, salmon to liver paste.
These little creamy and sweet parcels have more than 200 years of history attesting to their deliciousness. Found year-round on supermarket shelves, in bakeries and cafes, the classic flodebelle is made up of a wafer or marzipan base with fluffy marshmallow on top, enrobed in a dark chocolate shell.
Now, however, there are more flavours than ever, from coffee-flavoured cream filling to white chocolate, liquorice and strawberry varieties. The go-to sweet treat for Danes, even when they’re not fresh they’re still famously good straight out of the box.
While tipping is appreciated, it is not expected nor tradition in Denmark. Service is normally included in the bill at dining establishments, as well as at hotels and taxis.
For the latest deals on travel, browse our great range of offers online, visit your local Escape Travel or call 1300 556 855.