I have been a great fan of Trine Hahnemann‘s modern Scandinavian cookbooks for some time. When I was homesick for Denmark and Danish food I loved to look through The Scandinavian Cookbook, with its beautiful photography and even more lovely recipes. I will be reviewing Trine’s new book The Nordic Diet after Easter ( available in English).
But today I am delighted that Trine has agreed to answer a few questions about her cooking, food inspiration and thoughts on Danish food culture….
What is your earliest food memory and how have your childhood memories shaped your recipes?
I remember cooking being something important, as early as 2 or 3 years old. I remember my mother making rice porridge for me, which I loved, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. I remember my grandmother cooking and sharing meals with my grandfather when I was 4-5 years old. It has had enormous impact on my whole career and love for food. It’s something that is always part of me and my history with food and all the love that comes with food. I was really given a gift by my family; they made me understand the importance of cooking, seasons and sitting down sharing meals as a family.
In ‘The Scandinavian Christmas’ you talk about the men cooking the Christmas geese outside on a line of barbecues – I loved the idea of this. What do you enjoy most about a Danish Christmas?
That it is the same traditions every year, the “hygge” and of course all the great food, but two things that stand out, is the day I get my decorations out and decorate my house, and the day after Christmas Eve in pyjamas mode, where I eat leftovers all day and read books and just enjoy doing nothing after three weeks of hard work.
Summer time is also a special time here in Denmark, where it seems we almost forget how dark and cold the winters are. How do you celebrate Sankt Hans Aften (Midsummer’s Eve) and do you prepare a special meal?
I get together with friends at a beach house, we drink prosecco and eat lamb, asparagus, new potatoes and strawberries and I make a special candy store for all the children.
What would you say is the perfect Danish meal to introduce someone new to the country to traditional Danish cuisine?
For summer: meatballs with shaken redcurrant, pan fried summer cabbage and small new Danish potatoes with dill
Winter: Roast chicken with baked root vegetables, cucumber in sweet and sour vinegar and kale salad with apples and walnuts.
When it comes to dessert: my favorite is anything with rhubarb in the summer and for winter apples.
Over the last ten years the Danish food scene has exploded with a number of world famous restaurants and also a wider choice in the eating out sector. Is there a particular favourite eating place you would recommend in Copenhagen?
Ohh yes, I got a few places; off course Noma is the jewel on the crown. But otherwise Relæ and Manfred at Nørrebro.
Get organic hotdog in city near Rundertårn.
Bread baker at Enghave Plads, go there for mini-rugbrød and cinnamon “snegls”.
Very special thing in the summer: go to local sailing club in Svanemølle and eat at Café Sundet.
For lunch and “smørrbrød” my favorite place is Lumskebugt, the headchef and owner is one of the godfathers of the Nordic kitchen, Erwin Lauderbach
What is your favorite recipe from your cookbooks?
Impossible to answer it depends on the season and my daily mode. I love food!
You run a number of workshops and classes – can you tell us a bit more about them?
I love doing cooking demos and workshops, a great way to share my passion and to get a message about the food culture where I come from across. Only by tasting do you really understand it.
Next is a Cheese and Wine festival at Southbank Center London on 26 April.
Compared to my personal experiences in the UK and Germany, I find the food culture here in Denmark is much healthier and the general availability of healthy food is much better. Would you agree with this?
Both yes and no, I don´t think it is as much in between the countries, it is much more rural and urban differences. I do believe Germany is behind, but it will be their turn to be the centre of the food movement at some point, and when it comes to organic and bio–dynamic food I think they are leading.
UK is interesting because it has so many options and at the same time so much junk, it is a bit like US. It is big paradox, which also has lot to do with income level. Access to food is also a question of democracy
Healthy food provision and time to eat lunches in schools and the workplaces is very important and in the UK we are renowned for grabbing a sandwich at our desk. How does the lunchtime culture differ here in Denmark?
I own a catering company in Copenhagen, Hahnemanns Køkken, we run canteens for companies and government. I have worked with eating at work for the last 20 years. It plays a huge role in Denmark. If you are a serious company with more that 100 employees, you have a proper canteen, which serve healthy home cooked food. You do not eat at your desk; the tradition is to share your lunch break with colleagues. Here in Denmark canteens are part of the social norm.