Over recent years, chefs and restauranteurs have transformed the Copenhagen restaurant scene into a serious gourmet heavyweight. Focusing on local seasonal and sustainable products, these creative restauranteurs have established a Nordic cuisine identity to be proud of. The consequences have been remarkable, not only for the individual restaurants, who have been deservedly showered with international praise along with the odd Michelin star or two. The success has not only generated food tourism to the city, but also helped nurturing the locals into a knowledgable and demanding customer. The Danes are only too happy to share and discuss their favorite dishes. By 2012, Danes were consuming more organic food than any other European nation, helped down by a beer or two from a flourishing macro brewery industry. This embracement of food should be celebrated. On the foundations of this success, new bistros and restaurants with young enthusiastic talents, has also evolved providing cuisine to meet all kinds of budgets.
Recently, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries initiated a campaign to find the new Danish National Dish. The Danish Food Minister, Dan Jørgensen, no doubt wanted to create awareness about local quality and Danish food traditions. And indeed, traditional food dishes have been discussed and debated from workplaces, the media and even my local sauna, heatedly so. Last week, out of a population of over 5 million that can hold a knife and fork, 63.263 voted, with 27.893 electing the winner, fried pork with parsley sauce. I can hear a global shaking of heads followed by “What?” I know a few Danes have a nostalgic relationship with their fried pork and parsley, but does the dish represent the positive achievements of the last decade, I doubt it. If one had to chose a dish that was uniquely Danish, that is undergoing a renaissance, is popular with all ages, is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and embraces the multi-ethnic society we live in, then surely Smørrebrød fits the bill.
Saturday lunchtime, I stood in Torvehallerne, Copenhagen´s largest food market, gazing at the queue of tourists, waiting patiently at the stall, Hallernes Smørrebrød, which has taken Smørrebrød to new heights, creating a vibrant tapas atmosphere. Any visitor to our mecca of excellent food, that is looking to taste from Denmark´s past, present and future, should join the queue. Enjoy!