An Acquired Taste

When I was young, my Mother used to make me cow’s tongue sandwiches. The other kids said,”Yucky” and “How could you eat a cow’s tongue?”. If I didn’t think about their comments, it tasted good enough to me, it was just the thought of eating a cow’s tongue, that seemed a bit strange to other people.

Danes seem to like liver pate. Danish school children are used to getting it on their bread for lunchtime. I can’t get used to it. If it were only cow’s tongue, then they would have to fight me over the last bit in the refrigerator!

Yogurt is another thing that they can keep for themselves. Once when I was in India and had problems with my stomach, my Wife suggested yogurt. I ate it, but only under protest. I don’t care how much fruit or sugar it is made with, I just can’t/won’t eat it.

Another thing that Danes like is salty licorice. Every time I’m offered the stuff I turn it down. They ask me, “What kind of licorice did you eat in the US?” That’s just it, licorice was stringy, sweet, filled with artificial colors and was only eaten at the movies. It was not as common as everyone here would think. It’s just a Danish-thing, and needs to be accepted as it is. But I won’t.

In Denmark around Christmas some people like to eat blood sausage. I feel like I’m losing my mind, when I see people eating the stuff. It’s fried then eaten with sugar mixed with cinnamon. It’s another Danish thing.

I guess I’ll never be a real-Dane unless I can accept/eat/enjoy a lot of the food customs that go together with living here.

I really begin to miss my cow’s tongue sandwiches with mustard. Man that was really living!

Handy Cooking Tip – The Spice of Life

I like spices. I say that even though I have a lot more of them, then I’ll ever use.

Take pepper for example. I must have 6 different jars of pepper. Ground, White, Whole, and colored peppercorns. Those are some of them, but why is it that I can only find Ground pepper in a glass with the biggest holes on the planet? Even though I try to use it sparingly, it comes out like the soup was called “Pepper Soup”. Sometimes the family asks, “Uh, isn’t there a bit too much pepper?”, “Nope, just enough!”, I say as I hide my holey jar from sight. I’ve considered buying just one, and tossing the others, but then we do need to do our part in combating food waste! Even if it is pepper.

Cinnamon is one of those spices which gets a lot of use in our kitchen. I purchased one of those giant, large-kitchen sizes in our local wholesale-like store. It takes up the same space as 6 jars of pepper, if I could find them that is. My Wife uses it on pancakes, and I make cakes with it too. Luckily it is written in 4 languages which allows me to learn new things as I go.

The one disadvantage that I have over others is that my Wife is a Dane. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known about that part for years, but it does make it more challenging with our spices. I prefer English, but she prefers Danish. Those little known spices like Muscat or, Hjortetaksalt, might seem like a piece of cake for some of you, but I don’t feel safe in that part of the kitchen without using a Danish-English Dictionary, a chair and a whip.

I have this IKEA kitchen you see, which makes life easier for some people, but what about me? I have spices on 3 levels and added to that, IKEA makes squarish canisters which can be used for those smaller portions of spices and the like, which are in leaky bags held together with clips, rubber bands and the like. Easy, nope! Now I need to open each canister in order to see what is in there. Pepper, nope wrong again, but it was a good guess, all the same. I thought of labeling them, but then what if someone took the last portion of Timian and failed to cross the name out? I’d have to start over again, each time I looked for those darn peppercorns for my next batch of soup.

One thing, next to pepper with the big holes, that I know I can find each and every time, is Chili. No one seems to touch it, and that is just fine by me. It’s kind of like having my computer out in the garage, where no one wants to be, except for me that is. Chili and the garage are the last vestiges of my domain, my Kingdom, as it were.

I would advise you to use those spices sparingly, so your guests/family won’t want to collect any or all of the local fast-food advertisements, rather than take a chance on your darkish, strong tasting soup. Take a chance, be a man, and throw out those spices that you never seem to use, or can read the labels on.

You might just want to make up a back-up box of your Manly, throwaways just in case your Wife discovers that you’ve tossed her family heirloom spice jars, which her deceased Grandmother gave her as a child with none other than antique Hjortetaksalt in them.

Just to be on the safe side, that is…

ikeaskab kanelpepper

Handy Cooking Tip – Crossover Cooking Appliances

I’ve found the perfect way to save money and make everyone, including my Wife, happy in the kitchen.

mixer mixer2

On the left is my Wife’s expensive Kitchen-Aid mixer, on the right is an alternative, cheaper, crossover appliance, while still being a Name brand.

The mixer on the right can perform the same functions as the one on the left. It can mix, using variable speeds, it can even run in reverse, allowing sticky flour and the like to exit the mixing tool, thus making cleaning easier ( I would though advise that you exercise caution when using this reverse function).

Remember this handy tip the next time you happen to burn out your Wife’s beloved mixer when using it incorrectly (see blog on incorrect use of Wife’s Kitchen-Aid blender while making Hummus), and you might just save your marriage as well.

Proper Knife and Fork Etiquette in Europe – Part 2

If any of you remember where Part 1 left off, I’ll start off by repeating the last and very most important point of the whole blog:

That picture, number 3, was the basis for all eating life here in Europe. Look at the following picture:

plate-3

Now consider this photo:

plate-4

Now for the most part, this photo is similar to the first one, with one major difference. If you’d like to consider this difference, I can go out to my Wife and strike up a short, but witty conversation about the lower forms of higher pond life, which usually gets some sort of response from her.

Now, the last photo shows the basic position which is correct, but the addition of a roll of paper towels, although handy in messy eating situations, is a true Faux Pas, or false step. At this point if you are at a typical Danish Party with the festivities going their usual way towards wreck and ruin, your Wife might make some sort of comment likening you to your deceased, but at one time, noisy and boisterous Father, and how you are becoming just like him, talking loud and the like. I find it to be difficult if not impossible to carry a conversation, or at tune as the case might be, at those kind of parties. When everyone has reached that point of extreme happiness, someone decides to turn up the volume on the already high music, thus rendering any and all conversation to be either impossible or at the famous ”near your Father” level.

I quickly removed the paper towels, but my Wife didn’t have a better alternative, which meant that we couldn’t wouldn’t dare eat incorrectly and embarrass ourselves in front of our neighbors and friends, who wouldn’t know you from Adam (and Eve) at this point in time. I might point out that they too might have been eating messily, but no one decided to point out that fact, which had been known to ruin friendships, and marriages to boot.

If we had been at home, and a similar situation occurred, then I would propose the following alternative:

plate-5

Now the placement of the proper napkin is on the correct side and in a correct form. Some might want to place this item under the plate, but I haven’t worked out all the details as yet. The motif might not suit everyone, especially during a Summer Party, but when push comes to shove and your special Danish-steak-surprise-sauce is dribbling down your party shirt – which your wife just might have chosen for you, because being a man and an American man, you might realize that all of your taste is in your mouth, and in choosing your shirt for you, your significant other just might save you from embarrassment at the hands of your neighbors.

I must point out that I have made yet another Faux Pas with the placement of the spoon, la cuillere in French, on the left-hand side, when all other cultured people know that it/they should reside on the right-hand side of the knife!

Here are some utensils for you to practice on proper etiquette at home. Note: it requires you to print an example of the above drawing, and cut it out with scissors. I would not be furthering the proper etiquette, if I didn’t make this teaching step-by-step, so a simplification is necessary at times.

utensils

I have purposely not shown the proper placement of the utensils for fear of making yet another Faux Pas, which again would show my ignorance and crudity in the instruction of something that I have no knowledge of what so ever!

I’ve just taken a new photo showing the proper usage of the fork- la fourchette, the knife-le couteau, and the spoon, la cuillere in French if you’ve forgotten!

IMG_20150914_220628plate-5

Now you can see the correct positioning in the left photo, as opposed to the right.

The actual distance is not the most important part here, but some of you purists, might want to show off by using your metric and, or English measuring tape and putting things right as it were!

This blog is slowly but surely sliding into number 3, but not before we cover the last point of a most important addition to your proper etiquette: The Napkin. The Napkin or Serviette in French, and also in Danish, adds to the flavor and spice of your table setting. I have used Sanity Claus to show one of the many examples of decorating the most drab of all placements. Here are a few more:

IMG_20150914_220607

Married to a Dane, means never having to say no to a Serviette with a Christmas theme on it, no matter what month your Summer Party happens to occur in…..

and just remember, Napkins (late 14th century from French through Latin) from ”Nape” a tablecloth.

(Source: Online Etymology Dictionary)

Remember Part 3 is surly on its way, and it will disclose truths that some might say were better left hidden in the sands of time.

Remember too, if you are not an European, then you will most likely never get it right, no matter how many blogs I write on the subject.

Just so you have nothing to look forward to….

The End of an Era – The Death Throes of the Danish Car Industry

It has survived it competitors, the Volvo and the Volkswagen. It made it through the many worldwide recessions, only to raise its head time and again, but this time, I’m afraid that the Danish Lion has uttered its last roar!

Car enthusiasts are in mourning today. The world famous Danish Car Industry is running on empty, after 70 glorious years on the market.

Car clubs that usually sport Trabbis from East Germany or, American Cadillacs, Mustangs and Corvettes, will soon be highlighting the once mighty Danish models: The Danmobile, The Jutland Jeep and the Zealand Devil. Then there were the special edition cars such as the Viking Destroyer with its curved horn technology, and the Classic Copenhagen Convertible with its accented tone and haughty demeanor.

Part of the blame must lie upon the more aggressive German models such as the Achtung and the Raus. These cars posed a dangerous threat to the Danmobile with its 2-pedal combustion, and modified cardboard chassis. The many lawsuits brought about by the flawed construction of the Danmobile came to be known as “The accordion bends”. This affliction was caused by the Danmobile’s inability to maneuver through heavy traffic situations, where the sides of the cars were subjected to what became known as “cardboard fatigue” brought about by the less than environmentally friendly cars with their metal exteriors.

Even local petitions made to the Danish Parliament failed to obtain necessary funding to keep the Car Industry afloat. The reasoning was simple: Just as the American Government tried and failed with bail-out attempts to save the Ford Edsel and the De Lorean, the Danish Government wasn’t about to divert funds from key projects as smoking rooms for Danish parliamentarians, and much needed infrastructure on the Island of Zealand.

“More bridges and Less taxation” became the slogan for the financially challenged citizens of Copenhagen, who saw the saving of the Danish Car Industry to be a waste of time and money. This frustration reached a boiling point when local protesters, dressed as Vikings, filled a number of Danmobiles with tea and dumped them into the nearby sound.

It will also be a challenge for collectors of Classic Danish Cars to obtain spare parts. It might even result in a red-white underground market, as the term “black” would never be used for the Danish People who are known as “The Happiest People on Earth”.

I, for one, will mourn the local favorite, “The Jutland Jeep” with its classic trailer hitch, showing the rest of the country what is most important for Jutlanders! With its locking hubs and 4-wheel drive, it was designed to traverse the arid Danish Desert and climb to the pinnacles of the mighty Danish Alps.

I would proudly own one, placing it in my backyard where it could live out its days in rusty peace, as the taxes concerning its registration and upkeep are equal to the feeding and clothing of my 7 children until they (hopefully) fly the coop at age 18.

So as the Danes would say, “på gensyn”, which means “Until We Meet Again” as saying Goodbye is just too final a word, for this once mighty industry!

Handy Cooking Tip – Using Chili Wisely

When using Chili in recipes, I’ve found the following tips to be rather handy:

  1. Familiarize yourself with Chili’s many names: Red, powdered, jalapeno, very damn hot, and grounds for divorce are some common names for the layperson.
  2. Do not be tempted to rub your eyes while working with Chili. This might cause you painful distress, or the incorrect addition of more chili in current recipe, due to temporary blindness ( a good excuse for reason number 4).
  3. Do not use Chili as a tool of revenge. Having misunderstood that “No” really meant “No”, is not a good reason for ending your relationship on a spicy-note.
  4. Chili containers sporting a skull and crossbones should not be taken lightly. This is usually a sign of warning, poisoning, or fatal death. This symbol should make it evident to you, that it’s time to swallow your pride and buy those new glasses, before your entire family is found lying on the floor, with stiff limbs and glassy eyes, after making your famous “Chili Surprise”.

More handy Cooking Tips to come!