A Danish Christmas lunch is all about friends, food, drinks and coziness. It’s a marvelous tradition that I think we might just adopt for ourselves.
This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.
This particular lunch was thrown by my coworker, Henrik Jørgenson. He and his partner both grew up in Denmark, so they know how to throw one of these things, and along with Mick Staugaard (the other Dane on our team), they guided us through how it works.
(And yes, in case you’re counting, there are two Danes on our team of seven. My company was founded in Copenhagen, so a bit of this is to be expected, but 28% is a bit high even for Zendesk.)
First, lunch is a bit of a misnomer. Ours started at 5pm.
Second, “lunch” might be understating things a bit. There are a lot of servings, most of which are open-face sandwiches on rye bread or toast. Usually there are at least two varieties of rye.
Third, drinking is involved. Denmark as a whole is a beer-drinking nation, but Aquavit is a popular liquor specifically for Julefrokost.
The menu for our lunch:
- Herrings with toppings
- Eggs with shrimps and mayonnaise
- Smoked salmon with asparagus and dill sauce
- Fish fillet with remoulade and lemon
- Frikadeller (meatballs) with red cabbage
- Flæskesteg (Roasted pork with crispy skin) with caramelized potatoes, gravy, and red cabbage
- Risalamande with cherry sauce
All the smoked and cured seafood is no surprise given Denmark’s geography, but it’s on the exotic side for the average American palate. It’s right up our alley, though, and everything was delightful.
The last course includes a game. Hidden inside a giant bowl of fluffy rice pudding is a single whole almond, and the person who finds the almond wins a prize! However, the Danes are a sneaky people, so often whoever finds the almond will keep that fact a secret, so that everybody else has to keep eating. Peer-pressure towards gluttony seems to be a theme here.
After dessert we played a game with gifts. The rules were fairly simple, but it was something kind of like a white-elephant exchange, except that some of us ended up with six gifts and some with none. Super fun, though.
We had an amazing time, and we’re indebted to the Danes for inviting us.