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Denmark - Food and Drink
Smørrebrød, or open sandwiches, are the basic form of lunch in Denmark. This can be considered a national specialty when properly prepared and decorated with a variety of ingredients. Hot meals in this country are traditionally prepared using ground meat, such as medisterpølse and frikadeller, a sort of meat balls, or some different meat and fish dishes such as kogt torsk, which is a poached cod with trimmings and mustard sauce, and flæskesteg, which is a roast pork with crackling.
When it comes to traditional drinks in Denmark, this country has some famous products such as Tuborg and Carlsberg beers and some akvavit and bitters. However, imported wine has gained huge popularity all over Denmark since early 1960s.
Cooking in Denmark has been largely influenced by foreign continental traditions and the use of imported spices from tropical countries, such as cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper. Some of these ingredients can be traced to the Danish cuisine of the Middle Ages and even the time of the Vikings. There is also a modern tradition of high-quality local products, known as ‘new Danish cuisine’. Nowadays, Copenhagen and some provinces have a considerable number of highly rated restaurants.
Apart from the widespread pizza stands and kebab shops, dining outside in this country can be expensive, but is worth the cost. Traditional Danish dishes include foods such as pickled herring, fried plaice and other assorted seafood. Dishes that include meat are also very common. There are items such as frikadeller, which are pork and veal meat balls covered with a brown sauce, and stegt flæsk og persillesovs, which are pork bacon slices topped by a parsley cream sauce. Many Danish meals go along with beer, shots of aquavit or schnapps, which often comes after the guests finish eating.
Those who are looking for a quick snack should try the traditional Danish hot dog, which is served in a bun with a variety of additions including pickles, fried or raw onions as well as ketchup, mustard and remoulade. In spite of the French name, remoulade is actually Danish invention, which consists of mayonnaise with the addition of chopped cabbage and turmeric.
When it comes to dessert, it's always a good idea to try either "ris à l'amande", which is a rice pudding with almonds and cherries, or æbleskiver, which are ball-shaped cakes similar to American pancakes, mainly served with a strawberry jam. These desserts are traditionally eaten in November and December. The most common candy in Denmark is hot licorice candy with salmiakki, called "Superpiratos".
Restaurants that offer examples of international cuisine are common, mainly in major cities. It is possible to find Italian, Greek and Chinese restaurants everywhere, with some places also featuring Japanese, Indian and other types of cuisine as well.
The traditional Danish lunch called smørrebrød includes open sandwiches, usually on rye bread, with fish. Many restaurants actually give a choice of breads to their guests. Smørrebrød is mainly served on special occasions and in lunch restaurants. The Danish rye dark bread, called rugbrød, is slightly sour and often made from wholegrains.
Many foreigners who spend time in Denmark will notice that alcohol is a common thing in Danish society. Although Danish people enjoy their alcohol, the drinking culture doesn't escalate into violence, but serves the important social purpose of relaxation.
There is no legal drinking age in Denmark, but when buying alcohol, a legal purchase age of 16 is in effect in shops and supermarkets. It is 18 in bars, discos and restaurants. The enforcement of this limitation is lax in supermarkets and shops, but very strict in bars and discos. The fine can be up to DKK 10,000 with additional license problems for the vendor. The customers are never punished, but there are some clubs that enforce a voluntary zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking, where the offenders can get kicked out if caught without ID.
In recent years, there have been health campaigns targeting the famous Danish tolerance towards underage drinking, and the consumption of alcoholic beverages amongst Danes in general. Drinking alcohol in public is socially acceptable in Denmark, so having a beer in a public square is a common activity in the country. There are still some local by-laws which are increasingly trying to diminish this liberty. Drinking bans are usually signposted, but are still not always obeyed and enforced. However, it is advised to be moderate in public drinking during the daytime. Extreme loudness can see offenders sent to jail, although this will not result in a criminal record.
The largest brewery in Denmark is Carlsberg, which also owns the Tuborg brand. There are several choices available from this brand, as well as a delicious "Christmas beer" during the holidays. Among other tasty beverages, are Aquavit and Gløgg, which is a hot wine drink, served especially in December.
Danish beer is mostly limited to lager, which means the beer culture is good, but not very diverse. In the last few years Danes have expressed an interest in a wider range of beers, so there is an increasing number of Danish microbreweries offering great products to the public.
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