Something more than just bread and butter

By reading the blog of an Italian you would expect the food issue to come across this pages, maybe a little bit earlier. I hold it on for a while, I must admit.
Italians cuisine has a really vast range of options, well known in the rest of the word, misspelled by the most and obviously retraslated into weird national combinations.
I guess I can understand that Danes might feel intimidated by Italian cuisine, at it is more complex and elaborated, sometimes.
Don’t worry: the opinion of this small Italian foodie is : thumbs up. I save you and your infinite smørrebrod selection.
But even though there is a lot to tell about the awesomeness of Danish cusine, lately there had been something that really bothered me in a way that I could not stop thinking about it.

I started noticing this happening at the café I work at.
By being a foreigner, dealing with costumers makes you understand what are the food preferences of Danes. Still, not such in a broad way as the café I work at is a vegetarian one, therefore nobody can show its affection to svinkød. But recently I started noticing that Danes love really much to have soups, liquorice taste, chai latte and hot chocolate. And one thing more.

Century of new cooking techniques developments, new products available on the supermarket shelves, new tastes and spices, and long list menu options did not affect , and made my costumers ordering at any time of the day just one thing. Boller med smør.

Bread and butter: you don’t go to a café to order bread and butter. At any time of the day. And in front of a magnificent vegetarian buffet. do?
This would never happen in Italy, I could not be more surprised and shocked. After it happened a considerable amount of time, I started being really curious about it.
Why people just go out and eat bread and butter?

I don’t have anything against butter, actually I think it is one of the best discovery  made by mankind. Even more than fire and penniciline. But still, there was no logical explanation in my Italian way of thinking , that a person could possibly go out and order some bread with butter. Cause we don’t order just bread and oil. You cannot find this on any menu.

Making boller with a view

When preparing my BA thesis on Denmark I read a lot about Danish butter and bacon export capacities in U.K. , and how Danish butter has always been considered one of the best ones. Again, as it has a large amount of calories, it was a perfect supplement food for the peasants and farmers working all days in the fields, at it would give enough energy to work a full day.
I even made myself homemade boller med smør, to figure out why I should go out and ask for it.
But still it was not enough in my mind to accept that people could eat over caloric,  simple and common food that you can easily have at home, but instead you order at a restaurant or café.
The only way to figure it out was to ask Danes.
Therefore I had my Danish test subjects to ask and try my bread and butter, and I discovered that behind the simplest combination, there is actually a whole world of memories, traditions and history.

What probably every Danes know and sound normal, for me it’s quite a discovery.
It turned out that Boller med smør is a childhood or birthday food. A typical food you would have get at any season, when you’re young and go back home after playing outside or coming back from school. Food you would have get at your grandparents birthdays, which would have spread a considerable amount of butter on your bun, to show how much they cared about you.
I would say it became kind of a ritual, a gesture to pass from generation to generation. To cut and spread butter on bread layers to the ones you care about, or just to yourself. Not just for its taste.
And so I thought: what would be my equivalent of boller med smør? I remember being a child and having milk buns with ham, but most of all I remember my summers at the seaside.
My mother would take me and my sister to the beach, looking for a upside-down small ships on the shore. We would have sat or walked carefully on it, while she would tried to spoon-feed  from a plastic plate that was containing pieces of different fruits. They were put in a way it would have look like a face that was smiling. So the grapes were the eyes and a piece of peach would have be the nose and so on.
And I think that now I understand my costumers, and in general Danes. We all turn a bit nostalgic if we get the occasion to do so.
Probably my Italian version of bread and butter would be funny fruits plates, to give to the ones I care, or to make for myself, but not just for the taste.

By daniela • February 8, 2013
Categories: , , ,



  1. Posted February 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm by Ib51 | Permalink

    Ah Bollers med smør! It remind me when, during holidays hjem, we had, in the middle afternoon, a kop kaffe with bollers and smør (and sometime, kage med flødskum :-)) … nostalgia, nostalgia. I’m not sure the tradition continues nowadays.
    When I was a child, here, in France, bread and butter with a piece of chocolate were said a complete food and given as 4 o’clock lunch.

  2. Posted February 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm by Emily | Permalink

    “Even more than fire and penicillin.” I’m writhing in giggles. Thanks for another insightful and witty look at Danishness, Dani!

  3. Posted August 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm by deb | Permalink

    hi brunet, I am italian and will drive to Denmark in a couple of days.
    Your blog is very nicely written and interesting. What suggestions do you have to approach denmark in the proper way?
    what is the fashion trend now? sneakers new balance all the time?


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Brunette in Denmark


Short and brunette migrant from sunny Italy. Can a person like this survive to Denmark? Daniela: an ugly duckling in Blonde&Tall-land, is trying to find the essence of “being Danish” and will write down her perplexities and discoveries about Danish culture and behaviours. Student of Journalism, she has found herself tied up to Aarhus, and moved again in this town to take a MA, after having lived in here 8 months in 2011. This time she looks to the city with the eyes of a citizen, but still feeling as a foreigner. Cause, she misses real pizza sometimes.