Everything to know about Danish Food

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This article will explain the story about Danish food and everything that revolves around. It will also give you good restaurant addresses to taste these flavors !

Story of Danish Food

Courtesy: Monstruo Estudio/Unsplash

Hearty, rustic and filling – these define what traditional Danish cuisine is all about. It is influenced by German and French cooking and strongly rooted in the need to use locally produced and available ingredients as well as in preservation. Potatoes, meats and fish, cheeses and dark breads are all pantry staples in a Danish household. However, the past years have seen the evolution of Danish cuisine – local chefs have come up with inventive ways to use traditional and locally-produced ingredients that have put Denmark on the world culinary map.

Here are some of the traditional Danish food that have stood the test of time and are still enjoyed in most households and served in restaurants.

Smorrebrod. An open-faced buttered rye bread sandwich served with beer and snaps. The toppings can be anything – from smoked meats, fish, seafood, cheese to vegetable slices. Some of the local favorites include salmon, marinated herring and onions, liver pate with salted beef and raw onions, and smoked eel with scrambled eggs and herbs.

Some Danish Dishes

Medisterspolse. A traditional dinner favorite made with spicy pork sausage served with thick brown gravy, boiled potatoes and stewed cabbage.

Flaeskesteg. Usually served during Christmastime, the dish is made with roast pork with crackling and served with red cabbage and roasted, caramelized potatoes.

Boller i karry. A curry dish made with meat balls made with pork, apple and celery and boiled in hot water. This is served with white rice and cucumber salad.

How Danish Food Came to Be

Courtesy: Camilla S./Yelp

When mentioning Danish food, one of the things that come into the minds of people is the preserved food being included in many dishes and gastronomical selections, whether it may be pålæg on smørrebrød such as smoked or pickled herring, or other dining options, such as smoked pork and other cold meat cuts. However, what part of their culture did these kinds of food adaptations came from? As you may know, Denmark is a place very consistent of experiencing low temperatures, only having 15.7°C at the peak of summer season. Back in history when cultivating plants all year long was not possible, people need to preserve their food for a long time so that they could still have something to eat despite of plants being scarce for animal feeding due to cold seasons.

With such temperatures also, people tend to feel weak because of the freezing weather. They needed to consume food that have lots of nutrients and vitamins, which can be obtained from fishes and meats that have been cooked naturally, such as smoking or steaming. Frying meats in large servings also help them to store warmth in their bodies while being engaged to outdoor work, which was apparent in the olden times. Potatoes that are rich in carbohydrates also help them to store all that warmth acquired from eating meaty meals. All of that had been carried in the modern times, still adapting the kitchen food culture, which explains why many Danish dishes have minimal presentation yet oozing with taste and rich flavors.

For a taste of some Danish cousine, you can check out any of these restaurants : All the restaurants

Danish Food of Early Times

Courtesy: New Amsterdam Market/Flickr

During the times when majority of Denmark's population were into farming and fishing, food preparation needed to address the need for energy and preservation. The Danes of olden times were known to be very hardworking. It is in this environment and condition that preserved meat became not only a delicious option but a practical one as well.

Some of the more popular that are even considered culinary delicacies today include the Danish smoked ham or pork, the spegepølse or Danish salami, and the sylte or the head cheese or brawn. The smoked meat as traditionally prepared can last up to a year. This longevity factor is true as well with the other two delicacies. The excellent food preservation process was very useful especially during those times when refrigeration was practically unheard of. The most preferred food preservation methods were smoking, salting, and brine-pickling.

The Danes have always been fond of rye bread and beer. In time, fish and meat dishes came with new favorites in the form of potatoes and heavy gravy. The present Danish food culture remains rooted to tradition though and this is very much manifested both in everyday cooking and food preparation during special occasions. 

The love affair of the Danes with rye bread spans over 1000 years with its popularity not ever waning. This popularity is explained by the bread's suitability to the Danish climate. It can be said that Danes hold on to tradition in more ways than one inlcuding their food preference.

What Sets Danish Food Apart from the Rest ?


Danish cooking is historically rooted to peasant dishes. Before the Industrial Revolution came, preference for natural product produce from family or neighborhood farms was high. Food such as potato, bread, and salted pork were the main staples then. Preference for fresh meat and green vegetables came much later as encouraged by industrialization.

The Industrial Revolution succeeded in enhancing the Danish cuisine due to the wider availability of ingredients and other goods. Modern Danish cuisine however does not totally set aside tradition and is in fact working on the very strength of the country's traditional recipes. The basic formula is to build on local products and techniques with the intent of working on finding other possibilities that will manifest in the cooking result.

Because of the cold weather in Denmark, Danes are prone to eating meat which helps in keeping humans warm. Thus, a lot of pork and beef is eaten together with equally lots of vegetables and potatoes. Poultry and fish products are also popular but not as popular as pork and beef. Preserved meat has retained its popularity from the olden days when meat preservation was necessary in the absence of refs and freezers.

What sets Danish food apart from the rest is the fact that it has not let go of tradition. It continues to look back to where it came from. And there lies the unique flavor of Danish food that is rooted on the old and continues to embrace the new. Its flavor cultivates the many generations of retention and modification of cooking styles and techniques applicable to the times.

The Original Danish Fast Food

Courtesy: Andy N./Yelp

What do Korea, Japan, Peru, and Denmark have in common? They do not drink the same kind of beer, nor do they eat the same kind of delicacies. But one thing that makes these four countries related to each other is the availability of the street carts, which provide hungry tourists and locals, a fast and accessible place to quench that thirst and fill that hunger away. All carts present famous and recognized food selections such as Takoyaki (grilled octopus in dumpling) in a Yakai in Japan, Sundae (blood sausage) in a Pojangmacha in Korea, Anticuchos (Cut Stew Meat) in Peru, and the prominent Røde Pølser (Red Sausages) in a Pølsevogn in Denmark. These kinds of shops are a perfect escape for the hasty hungry tummy.

Aside from Røde Pølser, there are other sausage selections being offered, which includes Frankfurters, Hotdogs, and other sandwich meals. Do not be surprised however, if you are asked to have bread with your sausage as Denmark offers the bread differently, apart from what westerners think. Unless it is not a hotdog, the bread is served separately, which should be eaten before or after you eat the sausage. Mustard, ketchup, and sometimes remoulade are squirted separately for you to dip on before eating something. Even though the numbers of Pølsevogn is declining locally, due to competition with restaurants and convenience stores, there are many Pølsevogn available in other countries including Russia, Germany, Spain, Norway, and even as far as Singapore. Danish around the world feels at home when eating on these kinds of shops.

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