Scandinavian cuisine isn’t the most renowned in the world, nor the best. But when you spend several months in Denmark you get used to it and, even if you are missing a good pasta all’arrabbiata, you tend to believe that discount supermarket chicken and tuna salads are the best thing you have ever eaten in your life.
Anyway, this post is not about Danish culinary specialties, such as marinated herring or frikadeller (Scandinavian meatballs), served in the best traditional restaurants that budget travelers just cannot afford. It is simply a short list of “little food pleasures” not to be missed if you visit Copenhagen.
This wafer biscuit with fluffy marshmallow cream enrobed in a chocolate shell is the most popular Danish sweet. You can opt for a classic flødebolle, a coconut-coated version, or one with a coffee-flavored cream filling. You can taste delicious freshly-made flødeboller (plural of flødebolle) in all pastry and chocolate shops. I guess the ones from Illum Department Store deli are excellent too, but I have never tried them because they are so expensive… Industrial flødeboller packs can also be purchased at any supermarket at a small price (Copenhagen is full of discount stores like Netto or Fakta). Even if they are not freshly made they are very good too. I would kill for a flødebolle right now! If anybody knows where I could find some in Rome, please let me know!
Literally “butter bread”, this kind of open-faced sandwich, a simple slice of black bread piled high with a wide range of ingredients, from meat to cheese, from veggies to eggs, from salmon to shrimps, is a real Danish classic. Perfect for a quick lunch, it can be found in all city neighborhoods. Situated in the Latin Quarter, around Strøget pedestrian street (a real paradise for a shopping addict like me), Danish Lunch, Klareboderne Smørrebrød, Domhusets Smørrebrød, Rådhus Smørrebrød, and Ritz Smørrebrød, all are just a few amongst the numerous smørrebrød takeaways. Many travel guides and blogs recommend Ida Davidsen restaurant but I would not suggest it to budget travelers.
3. Chocolate cake from the 24-hour bakery of Christiania
In this section of Copenhagen, a former military base occupied by a free-living community, you cannot only find hash, but also organic food and delicious brownies with chocolate icing at any time of day or night. Not original, but yummy!
4. Pølse, the Danish hot dog
If you are not crazy about vegetarian and whole food, why not experience local junk food? Well, sorry… local fast food. For a quick bite, grab a pølse from one of the innumerable sausage stands (pølsevogne in Danish), which can be found at almost every street corner, especially in the historic center and in the Nørrebro area. At night, you can also get a Pølse at one of the numerous 7-Eleven convenience stores open round the clock. In addition, a visit to Tivoli Gardens amusement park, one of the greatest attractions in Scandinavia, is not complete without eating a pølse after a ride on The Demon roller coaster. Also known as Fransk Hotdogs, even if they have never been seen in France, pølser (plural of pølse) are commonly served grilled or boiled in a traditional hot dog bun with onions (either fried or raw), mustard, ketchup, and the very popular Danish remoulade sauce. If you want to try something more special than the classic version, you can choose amongst a large variety of sausages and different dressings. Not very healthy, but tasty!
In Denmark, hot dogs are “French” and what Americans would call Danish pastries are curiously “Viennese”. When visiting Copenhagen, follow the delightful cinnamon scent, enter the first konditori or bageriet (bakery), and try a delicious kanelsnegle (cinnamon rolls) or a chokoladebolle (pastry filled with chocolate). And why not both after all?