lørdag, december 02, 2006

Eating, drinking, being merry

Here ye, here ye! Let the Christmas festivities commence! In fact, let them commence last week, there's no rush. The opening Christmas salvo? A julefrokost (in English, a Christmas lunch), sort of like the Norwegian julebord which Scholiast describes, except...well, pretty much like the Norwegian julebord which Scholiast describes! It's common for people to have multiple Julefrokosts each year, for example, one with the work as a whole, another for each department or project group, one for each circle of friends, one with each section of their family, one with each social group or club, you get the idea. As a result, the julefrokost season starts in mid-November, and continues well into January, just because everything gets booked up for December.

As I'm a social isolate (well, no, but it can seem that way on occasion) with a rather tangential relation to my employer, I only have the one julefrokost, with a section of Thor's family. We met up, as is the custom, at about 2pm, and spent several hours together eating and drinking and, well, being increasingly merry. This went on a surprisingly short time, until about 8pm, and the general level of sobriety was relatively high. This is comparing to last year, where we were not at all the last ones to leave, at around 11:30, and where at least one participant had to be held upright so that she could say goodnight to us without falling over. This may be just that it was in someone's house last year. This year, we were more traditional, and met in a small, candle-lit (and therefore very hyggelig) restaurant. I've taken some very badly-lit pictures (did I mention the restaurant was dark?) which I will share with you. As I have no one's permission to post their photos on blog, I'll make do with unattractive pictures of very tasty food and drink.

Eating: You can see the overall spread (it was a buffet) at the top of the post. Basically, the traditional Christmas thing, which means smørrebrød. The herring is in the front, along with some other fish dishes. After one has one's fish, then there are the meat dishes in the back. There is also some cheese for the third round, and risalamande with kirsebærsovs (cherry sauce) for dessert.

The star of the show is the flæskesteg, or roast pork. No, I lie, the star of the show is the crackling (flæskesvær in Danish), which is the crispy, incredibly fatty skin of the beast. I'm not kidding about it being fatty. I find the first bite of svær is sublime, the second one is not bad, the third bite is like eating a spoonful of lard. That's when I start offering the rest of mine to others at the table, and that's when I become the most popular person in the room. Until I run out, that is. Those Danes are serious about their crackling.

More eating:Why is it that the best foods look so intrinsically bad? This is the risalamande with kirsebærsovs. It's a rice pudding, with generous addition of slivered almonds. Traditionally, there should be a whole almond thrown into the pudding; the person who gets this whole almond is then given a 'mandelgave' or 'almond gift'. Thankfully this is not done by restaurants. It sounds a great idea for competitive people, but my one experience with it is that you can't enjoy your food, as each and every almond sliver could be 'the one', meaning that you spend several seconds with each spoonful gumming each and every almond to make sure you don't accidently mangle the winning token. Not that any Dane would admit to finding the almond at any point, to let everyone off the hook. Of course, any self-respecting Dane will have a whole almond in their pocket anyway, to show at the end of the pudding course, along with everyone else at the table showing their almonds brought from home...it's amazing anyone can ever actually prove that their's was the real thing. However, take away the needless competition, and what's left is one of the world's classic desserts.

Drinking:Snaps and beer. That's about it. If you're odd like me, and don't like either of these things, then other drinks may be provided. Not drinking alcohol is also perfectly acceptable, though it is harder to get into the spirit of things (pun intended) if everyone is pissed except you.

Being merry: It was the spirit of things that got the 'gående pik' (or walking dick) put in the above photo. This would be the category of being merry...there were different shaped packages waiting for all of us when we got to the table. They all contained a tiny pair of folding scissors, except for Thor's Dad's package, which contained this cute toy. There was also the singing portion of the evening, which was blessedly brief. Though the verse where we were wearing fake buck teeth (made with brown sugar cubes with a line drawn down the middle, surprisingly effective in the dim light) was highly amusing (and too embarassing to even keep, much less post, photos of).

So, that's the opening of the Danish Christmas season...what about you? Has your Christmas begun yet, and if so, how?

12 kommentarer:

al-Ferengi sagde ...

what about you? Has your Christmas begun yet, and if so, how?

No, Madam, see reasons in my w0rd ;-)

Collective Heartburn sagde ...

I love schnappes and herring. Mmmmmm. My fist Jule frokost was I guess 3 years ago. I brought 2 kinds of corn bread. I ruined everyting! (yes the ting is on purpose)

Scholiast sagde ...

We do julefrokost as well - only it's called julelunsj over here (yes, that's how we spell lunch..). And it involves no alcohol as it's usually at work, at least within working hours -- I guess that's why we've got julebord as well ;)

Me, I enjoy the julelunsj most...

Sarah sagde ...

Oh how I love food...and know nothing of the food where you are from. What a great post....on a side note, I have eaten some version of the "spoonful of lard" you refer to in every European country I've ever been in...what's the American equivalent?

kimananda sagde ...

Hey, Ms. Black Scorpio, I can see what you mean...it's a bit sad actually that papers are due right after New Year...they should be due right before Christmas. Yes, this would make for more stress before, but it wouldn't take over the holidays!

Mr. Heartburn, I think corn bread sounds great! Not that I don't like the rye. Herring goes well with any bread, in my not so humble opinion.

Scholiast, that makes sense...work julefrokosts are actually more like dinner anyway...I can't imagine a group of Danes doing anything without alcohol, so it's more common for work to get out early than to have a get-together during work.

Sarah (whose blog I can't visit, sorry, I tried!), of course I'm actually from California, so this post says nothing of that. Interestingly, I don't recall a 'spoonfull of lard' item from when I was in Portugal, maybe it's more a Northern European thing? As for the American equivalent, I have no idea. I'm sure we have one.

DayByDay4-2Day sagde ...

Since I'm not working right now none planned. Plus the MIL canceled our x-mas eve event.

Mr Penis man seems to have some strong arms???

sophie sagde ...

well, now i am famished and
i LOVE rice pudding!!
(but not with bloated raisins in
it)
where can i get a dinner like
that at 4 in the morning???

hmmm...

Vanessa sagde ...

I have started to do some of my holiday shopping. I'm determined to not put it off until the last minute this year.

LeighAnn sagde ...

Wow! That looks so yummy!

I haven't started anything....but I did get my tree!!

Daphnewood sagde ...

I want Julefrokosts! That sounds so fun. We had the "company" party this past weekend. The food was catered by Lidia's Italian Kitchen (best biscotti ever) but the festivities part was pretty low key. I am sure there were several gaende pik-s at the party but none were toys and certainly not as cute as the one Thor's Dad got.

kimananda sagde ...

Day, he is fairly muscular, isn't he? And I hope you find some holiday hygge (see the hyperlink in the text for an explanation) anyway. :-)

Sophie, try http://www.sunblock99.org.uk/sb99/people/KGalsgaa/pudding.html. :-)

Vanessa, I always say that...and then I always get my presents last minute, or even in the after Christmas sales. :-o

Leighann, your tree looks great!

Daphnewood, it was quite fun, actually. And we had some 'living gående piks' as well at our julefrokost...must be a cultural universal. ;-)

Simple American sagde ...

Would be interesting to have a blogger's Julefrokosts. Don't ya think?