30 July 2011

Danish summer

All my focus seems to have been on what is missing from this season, and I have to remind myself that summer is not just about sun and heat. It would not be summer without the new Danish potatoes, fine skinned and buttery, the soil still moist.
 Begging for a slice of rye, mayo and roasted onions, or watercress, or...

The classic Danish potato peeling fork. I mostly eat my potatoes with the skin still on, but nothing beats the sentimental value, and besides I am a sucker for beautiful tools.

And nothing announces summer like the arrival of Danish peas. They should be squeaky to the touch like fresh tulips, not too soft or too hard. I like to weigh each of them in my hand, to make sure they are not faking it (all shell and no meat), a trick I picked up last summer from a fellow pea picker. One of my earliest memories of my grandfather is him teaching me how to split them like a pro. It's all in the thumb.

But the true highlight is the Danish strawberries, according to my vegetable dealer, the best in the world. So good that when visiting family in the homeland, they bring suitcases full of Danish strawberry marmalade. Is it odd how that makes me feel proud? This is the last week of Danish strawberries, and they are in such demand that you (they) have to be there at 2:30 in the AM to get them at the market. 2:30 AM... I shall never complain about the strawberry prices again.

Because this is the grand finale of the season, I went all out and got the whole cream to go with it. It is a ritual: rinsing, drip drying, nipping the top, cutting in halves, the squeeze of lemon, the light sprinkle of sugar, and then the wait. Letting it sit for a while is the hardest thing, and when you can't stand it any longer you add the final touch: the whole cream. Mixing with the bleeding berries and the sweetened lemon, turning creamy. That's Danish summer.

See you next year.


  1. great photos as always Sandra.

  2. Thank you very much, Sir.

  3. Oh, we just had some fresh Oregon peas with soba noodles and peanut sauce on Thursday. You're right, peeling them is all in the thumb, it's about getting in-between that little crack in the shell :)

    I think strawberries everywhere are one of the most delightful things about summer, and short-lived. The delicious Oregon ones that grow in the mountains here only last for maybe a month, at the most. But they are sooooo delicious. We also have a raspberry bush in our apartment buildings, so we sometimes pick some from there and eat them with some fresh cream as well, skimmed from the top of our milk (we get fresh, raw milk from a farm every week).

    And I think new potatoes are one of my favorite things ever. Just boiled with a little bit of salt, then with some sour cream or yogurt and a little bit of dill. Mmmm.

    There's a Lithuanian cold soup that they make in the summer - the base is kefir, and you add to it chopped cooked beets, chopped fresh cucumber, chopped scallions, chopped boiled egg, and a ton of dill. Mix it up until it's bright pink (from the beets and the kefir), and serve chilled. It goes perfect with boiled new potatoes.

    You can see it in the background in this photo behind the herring :) http://www.flickr.com/photos/poetas/5010134407/

  4. Hi Dave,

    It must be the extra fine taste in the locally grown and produced that we love, don't you think? In Denmark we are used to having vegetables flown in from the far corners of the world, tomatoes with little taste and vacuum packed everything. Once you taste something fresh from the soil, you feel alive.

    We are a farm land so it is a wonder that we don't have a single farmers market or just regular access to local produce. I have found a cool little shop (a small chain now) that only sells locally produced food, fresh from the farms. The quality that restaurants use, and pricey of course, but it's a start. I have to make a post about them soon. Mmm, food, I love the beet colored soup of yours!

  5. yeah, a food post!!!
    the strawberries look delicious and the description made me hungry. But now, I have to have the potato pealing fork... ahhh, it is perfect!

  6. Ha, crazy thing is I made myself hungry by writing it.


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