Thursday, December 24, 2009

Denmark - Anchovy Paste

I was in a contest. I competed in the Canadian Blog Awards under the category of crafts, cooking and other activities. I came in second place and I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s funny. A year ago I never would have thought I would be in a blog competition. I don’t know if Denmark has been in any contests per se but it sure has “won” a lot of recognition.

It ranks as having the world’s highest level of income equality.
It has the best business climate in the world, according to Forbes Magazine.
It’s one of the happiest places in the world based on standards of health, welfare and education.
It’s the second most peaceful nation in the world, after New Zealand.
It’s ranked as the least corrupt country in the world in 2008 Corruption Perception Index.
It’s ranked 10th for the greenest countries to live in the world.
It was the first country in the world to implement an environmental law in 1973.

You notice how the greenest and most peaceful countries rank the highest on the Happiest Country Index? Maybe pollution, greed and war isn’t the way to go – at least if you want to be happy.

The UN summit in Copenhagen seemed a failure this year. While countries debated the news programs like CNN were bringing in “experts” that don’t think we need to be making such a fuss over the environment. Here’s my question: Even if these so-called experts are 1% wrong where does it leave the planet and all of us? Wouldn’t it make sense to err of the side of caution? I know, environmental laws costs money for industry. That’s why I wonder if these “experts” are getting paid to play devil’s advocate.

Maybe we should look to countries that are the happiest. Follow their example. Just a thought.

The night I made our Danish meal I was not in the mood to cook. I wanted something easy. I was delighted when I saw that open-faced sandwiches are very popular in Denmark. It was a snap to make but turned out to be a disaster.

I found a recipe for an open-faced sandwich that was easy peezy. All I had to do was spread butter and anchovy paste on slices of bread (I was supposed to use rye but I used multi-grain) and top them with slices of hard-boiled eggs. To go along with the sandwiches I bought Danish pastries at the bakery. Of course the kids loved the Danishes but absolutely hated the sandwiches. It was the anchovy paste they detested and, I was surprised, because I honestly thought they liked anchovies. After dinner I gave our cat, Lewis, some anchovy paste, thinking he’d go nuts over it, and he wouldn’t touch it. He eats bananas for God’s sake!

A few days later I met a woman from Denmark who told me they don’t eat anchovy paste. My God! Does anyone like anchovy paste!

So I decided to do a redo. I decided to make Frikadeller, Denmark’s national dish. On the day before Christmas I fought the crowds at the grocery store, after finally finding a parking space and almost getting run-over. Frikadeller are pan-fried meat dumplings often served in soups. There are different variations, minced pork, veal or beef. I mixed the pork and beef, which was a suggstion from the woman from Denmark. I served the meatballs with boiled white potatoes, gravy and cooked red cabbage. Everyone loved the meatballs.

Denmark may be one of the happiest countries but I wasn’t too happy to have cooked two meals for one country. But, in the end, I learned a lot about Danish food and anchovy paste.

Anchovy Paste Open-Faced Sandwiches

1 1/2 cups soft butter
1 1/2 ounces anchovy paste
4 hard-boiled eggs

Spread a slice of rye bread with softened butter, then with anchovy paste. Cut strips of the hard-boiled egg whites to arrange in petal shapes. Filled center with sieved yolks.


Mix ground pork and beef together with chopped onions, an egg, milk, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. Form into balls and flatten as you pan-fry them in oil.

Serve with boiled white potatoes, gravy and cooked red cabbage.

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