Sunday, May 3, 2009

Making Hygge

Danish FlagDid I mention our boy Whogus is half-Danish? His mother was a Dane practicing nursing here in the States when she met Whogus's father, a physician. While growing up, Whogus spent a considerable amount of time in Denmark and came away with, shall we say, a continental outlook on life. I learned a little about his childhood summers in Denmark proof reading his college English compositions. It sounded magical. After university, when Whogus and I shared a flat in San Francisco, we spent a lot of time at his parents' house on the peninsula. His Mor Else liked my table manners and skills with a knife. I accepted invitations to their summerhouse in Denmark where I got crash courses in Danish language and culture.
Hygge (roughly pronounced who-geh) is a Danish word that doesn't readily translate into English. The closest word is cozy or coziness. But that doesn't really do the word justice. Better put, it's the creation of a comfy, intimate mood or atmosphere. This can be for one person or a group. I always thought fellowship was a more apt term, especially in the context in which I first heard the word. It was at the tail end of a most excellent stay on the island when another houseguest mentioned that we had made a fine hygge. After his definition, I knew just what he meant. We had lived simply, yet fully. Meals were shared communally, games were played late into the night, exploration went on all day long. It was the most filial of love fests.
Breaking bread together is a very Danish thing to do. Danes love to gather round the table, and when they do, a meal can go on for hours. There is always akvavit - which the Danish call schnapps, herring, a meat course, strong cheese, beer, and more schnapps. They serve a lovely liver pâté dish that I’ve been trying to perfect in preparation for an upcoming visit later this summer. Here is one variation based on a recipe on RecipeZaar.
Pork liver and suet
Danish Pork Liver Pâté
  • 16 oz pork or calf liver
  • 10 oz suet (pork fat)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 anchovies
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup light cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
Chop liver, suet, onion and anchovy until very fineRun liver, pork fat, onion and anchovies through a meat grinder or food processor until the mixture is very fine.
Add flour, liquid and seasoningsBlend in the flour, cream, eggs and seasonings.
Spoon mixture into a loaf panPour mixture into a buttered loaf pan. Put loaf pan in a water bath and bake in a 350° oven for 60 minutes.
Bake in a water bath for 1 hour. Let cool completelyLet finished pâté cool completely before removing from mold.
Serve slices chilled or at room temperatureServe chilled or at room temperature on good black bread or rye with pickled cucumbers, red beets, fried mushrooms and bacon.
Even though it's been 10 years since my  last visit to Denmark, I've imported hygge to this country and put it into practice whenever good friends are gathered in one place. Make the tradition one of you own!
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

1 comment:

Jeff (UK) said...

whilst you may be making this pate for someone else, certainly hope you're planning to share some with the Webb/Vernon/Tyler et all hygge gathering. Can't believe Maine's just 'round the corner.