Thursday, January 3, 2013

Food, Glorious Food...Sometimes

In the spirit of helping you keep your New Years resolutions to lose weight or eat less, or just generally think about food less... Here's a post about food in Denmark.

It may or may not actually help at all.

Since my perspective is that of an American, I can really only compare Danish food to American.  So, don't be surprised if you don't agree with my opinions on some things.

If you've been reading for a while, or if you've managed to scroll all the way back to my first few months of posting, you might remember this post.  Since moving here, I've had plenty of smørrebrød, and I have to admit... I've come around to it.  Not the pickled herring.  I still hate the pickled herring.  But otherwise, I'm a fan.  It's filling, fairly healthy, not too expensive... As far as eating a lunch out in Copenhagen, it's definitely the way to go.

Before we moved here, my husband warned me that he had been pretty disappointed in the food options when he'd lived here before we met.  In America, we've got this culture of eating out a lot, no matter the budget, so you can pretty easily find something decent in whatever price range you want.  Denmark, however, is just starting to have more of a restaurant culture, perhaps thanks in part to Noma (a fancy pants restaurant here in Copenhagen) being called the best restaurant in the world for a few years running.

It's easy enough to get amazing food in Copenhagen if you're willing to spend a lot of money.  Finding a more reasonably priced meal, however (if you're not eating smørrebrød, of course), is tougher.  Possible, but tougher.  There's this idea in restaurants here that as long as you have the recipe, you can make anything amazingly.  It's why you find a lot of mediocre Italian food here.  They know the recipes, but not the long-taught cultural secrets that make food from other countries great.  And it's also why Denmark is so good at smørrebrød - they've been doing it for so long that the little details come as second nature.

One thing that they do love in middle-of-the-road Danish cafes and restaurants is BIG PORTIONS.  Huge.  And they love to pile a plate with a wide variety of different things.  Often, you'll get your plate of food and everything will be lovely, except they'll have added one strange ingredient that just doesn't make sense.

Here's example of the portion sizes:

This brunch plate is found at a local restaurant that claims to be an American style diner.  Having lived there until this past Summer, I can honestly say that I've never seen a plate like that in America.  I don't really know what half of that stuff is.  Not saying this is a bad thing, though.  This particular restaurant (Cafe Luna in Christianshavn) happens to have really good, reasonably priced meals.

One thing that is NOT okay, though, is this monstrosity, which ended up on my husbands plate at a cafe in central Copenhagen earlier this week:

You're looking at Doritos with melted cheddar cheese.  The menu calls them nachos.  This is NOT what nachos are.  This is something you make at home in a microwave when you're in college and it's 4am and there's nothing else in the house.  Not something you go to a restaurant to spend money on.  This particular treat, once it sat on the plate for a few minutes, was so congealed that it could be picked up in one solid mass.  Appetizing...

So, I guess the take-away from all of this is that the food scene in Copenhagen is pricey, but getting better.  But it's still hit-and-miss, so be prepared to either spend a ton of money or take your chances.


  1. Have you considered getting a Menu Card? That would make it cheaper to eat out, all though nothing could make those "nachos" better. Have you found a place that serves good nachos?

    1. Menu Card, eh? I don't know anything about it, but I may have to look into it. As far as nachos, I haven't found any good ones around here. I imagine Chico's Cantina might do some real ones, but I haven't tried them yet. Unfortunately, I've seen that cheese-on-Doritos thing at three restaurants in CPH so far.

  2. It's a nifty little card that gives you a 25% discount on a bunch of restaurants in København, it works really well.
    I've lived here for years and I grew up close to København as well and I haven't found good nachos yet, so I'm becoming increasingly pessimistic.

  3. Ah, the nachos abomination. I used to work in Aabenraa (about 30km north of the German border). We actually taught the cook about nachos: they thought that adding guacamole, meat etc was a revelation from the gods.