Thursday, January 4, 2018

A happy country is a country with a full tummy

Stanley - Thursday

Denmark is frequently hailed as the happiest country on the planet. 

Stress levels are low because Danes are generally willing to pay very high taxes to avoid the stresses of how to pay for education and health care.  They believe it is in the best interests of the country to have a healthy, educated work force.

In my observation, Danes are also content – content with what they have, rather than always trying to upgrade to bigger houses, fancier car, and so on.

It is a land of traditions.  And it is here that I think the true path to happiness lies, because many of the traditions are involved with food.  And drink.  A lot of the former and manageable amounts of the latter - sometimes.

For example, let me describe the feast we had at Mette’s house on the day after Christmas with her son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.

After a welcome drink, Mette called us to the table for what I thought was the first course.  She stood at the end of the table and told us what we were about to enjoy.  I learned later that to the Danish mind there is only one course, even when the table isn’t big enough to hold all the food.

Here’s what we ate:

Herring in herbs and vinegar from the Ruths company on the little island of Christiansø 
Herring in a curry sauce from the Ruths company on the little island of Christiansø
Rødspættefilet (crispy fried fish) with remoulade
Warm smoked salmon
Rullepølse (rolled meat) with Italian salad
Shrimps Shrimps with eggs and mayonnaise
Baked salad of pears, plums, and Jerusalem artichokes
Green salad
Roast duck
Stick chips
Home-made rye bread
Bought rye bread
Homemade white rolls

Duck with baked pear salad and stick chips

Baked salad of pears, plums, and Jerusalem artichokes
The family

Shrimps with eggs and mayonnaise

Rødspættefilet (crispy fried fish) with remoulade

Yummy duck
Rullepølse (rolled meat)

Rye breads

Warm smoked salmon and salad

Christmass tree
There was also a gorgeous cheese platter for dessert, but nobody could face more food.

And, of course, there was some liquid refreshment:

Christmas beer (Jul øl)
Walnut schnapps
Red wine
White wine
Walnut schnapps
Red wine
White wine

- except for the designated driver, whose intake was very light.

White wine, red wine, øl, and walnut schnapps
And, of course, that was not all I ate over the holidays.  On Christmas Eve, Mette’s 95-year-old aunt taught me to make little Danish confections from marzipan, white and dark chocolate, and chocolate nougat.  I had my fill during the quality assurance phase, only to be followed by a full dinner of duck and various accoutrements.  And walnut schnapps, red wine, and white wine.

Aunt Erna showing me how

I'm a quick learner

Finished product - yum

Finished product - yum yum

Duck with baked apples topped with jam
And then onto New Year’s Eve, which started at 5:30pm so we could have a glass of champagne, accompanied by blinis, before the Queen’s speech, which I watched, rather than listened to. 

Then to dinner which comprised courses that different guests prepared.

Dinner table
Starters:  ecologically sensitive foie gras paté, caramelised figs, a fine Sauternes wine and a fine South African botrytis wine.  And walnut schnapps.

Foie gras paté and caramelised figs

Main course, prepared by me, was a one-and-a-half kilogram side of wild salmon caught off the Denmark coast, which I grilled with a hint of curry and ground coriander.  It was accompanied by asparagus, grilled tomatoes with parsley, crumbs, and olive oil, and what are called asparagus potatoes.  And a tasty pinot noir and, you guessed it, walnut schnapps.

Dessert was a small cheese platter of six or seven different cheeses, accompanied by South African Jeripego and a vintage Port.


Vintage Port
The penultimate event of New Year’s Eve occurs at 11:40 – one that has been going on for decades in Denmark, Germany, and other Scandinavian countries.  It is watching the classic skit from the late 1940s, Dinner for One, which you can view here (about 15 minutes).  Everyone, including me, knows every line, so there are gales of anticipatory guffaws.

And finally, we jumped into the New Year, sans Auld Lang Syne, with another bottle of champagne, hugs, kisses, and good wishes.

Jumping into the New Year
With all of this, there is no time to be unhappy, and it’s difficult to complain with a full mouth.  I recommend it to you.

Note to self:  500 calories a day until January 20.


  1. Stan, what wonderful feasts. After all that food and drink, my gold medal prize goes to that chair. Whatever else they have, the Danes must have the strongest chairs on the planet.

  2. Dinner for one? Your holiday week looked more like dinner for one thousand! All the best in 2018, Stan.

  3. Apologies for the lack of connection to Dinner for One. Here it is: