Friday, September 4, 2009

Once a Dane...

Danish postcard - Strib, Denmark
If, as they say, the third time's the charm, how does one characterize a fourth visit to Denmark? Twenty years ago, I was at the tail end of a 4-month long trek through Europe; backpack, Eurail pass and the obligatory bible, Let's Go in hand. I had already more or less retraced the footsteps of David Lowery's "Eurotrash Girl", except my movements preceded his by five years. Perhaps I was his inspiration. I was now in Copenhagen making friends and perfecting my beer drinking skills at a kollegium at the University of Copenhagen. I was trying to get in touch with Whogus, my old college roommate, who was studying at Kalø for the summer, presumably working on his Danish, but probably just perfecting his beer drinking skills as well. It took five days to get a message to him. By then I was pretty much sauced.
Whogus was finishing up his course work in a couple of weeks and was then going to spend the remainder of August at his family's summer house in Strib. We made arrangements to meet up first at his aunt & uncle's in Århus then take the train south together. I spent those gap weeks drinking wine and eating snails in Burgundy, but that's another story.
DecorationsThat first visit to Denmark coincided with Whogus's 30th birthday, a watershed year in Danish culture, especially if one is still unmarried (bachelorhood gifts center around cactus for some reason; it was never satisfactorily explained). There was a big party with lots of Danish relatives, amazing food, and maybe a little too much akvavit. By the end of my stay I was an honorary member of the clan with all its rights and privileges, centering around eating and drinking, mostly.
We have since celebrated Whogus's 40th - a truly international affair, his marriage to a beautiful Danish girl, and now the marking of half a century on this earthly coil. Along the way, I've reinforced friendships and come to see Denmark as a second home.
Danish Royal Guard
Tuborg beer ad - Middlefart, DenmarkDanish vernacular - Middlefart, Denmark
Danes are a lot like New Yorkers, a proud people, cool to outsiders, but loyal as hounds once befriended. They're rather off-handed about it, but deeply love their country and queen. They cultivate a comfortable, uncomplicated lifestyle. Like me, they are lovers of bread, cheese and beer, making me Danish in all but name.
Spirits soared as we all came together for the celebration. It was a happy reunion of far-flung friends who so rarely get a chance to gather in one place. We solidified bonds the way cultures have done so for millennia, at the table. There were other diversions to be sure, but we came together as family and friends at meal time. That is when distractions were quieted, and we could focus on one another. It was jolly, convivial and outright silly at times, but all emanating from a source of love.
I suppose in the end, the fourth time is distinguished with the Blog O. Food Seal of Approval.
Gamle fisker rob├ąd - Strib, Denmark (the old fisherman's rowboat)
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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