Friday, November 30, 2007

In Denmark, one doesn't talk about food at the table.

Succulent winter king salmon, grilled (a perfect BBQ night: crystal clear, in the 20s, no wind) to perfection, some oven roasted blue potatoes, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, a tossed salad, and a loaf of fresh no-knead bread (the recipe is on the right and works perfectly every time). An orange and cranberry upside down cake that will be better for breakfast this morning. Some Belgian beer (Saison Dupont), a delicious Barbaresco, some Hedges CMS. Delightful company, including two unsuspecting friends who dropped in to deliver a bottle of very special olive oil and found themselves with glass in hand seated at the table and a gentleman from Denmark, here to film a TV piece on the death of Vitus Bering, a Danish hero who died on a beach near here many years ago, and a good friend who was doing the filming. Conversation turned, as it usually does as soon as the ritual Rotary rants are over, to food: to comparisons of mayonnaises, to memories of odd things the children would and would not eat, to favorites from the past, to how at times your body just seems to want eggs or steaks. At one point the Dane stopped us and said that in Denmark one would never talk about food while eating. How interesting! What do they talk about in mixed company then?

This set us off on an exploration of cultural differences mostly centered around humour, and how what is funny in one country may leave the audience in another country waiting for the punch line. We amused ourselves by telling several jokes that just don't translate into funny in another language, which was funny in and of itself. I think we determined that golfing seems to be a fairly universally funny activity. There was this one about the businessman and the bishop who were out golfing....oh but you've heard that one! Then there is the one about the priest, who has led a good life, facing St. Peter and has to confess that once while golfing he used the F word....oh, you've heard that one too! And we brought up the famous three part joke originally told to us by a Danish doctor and which was our kids' favorite joke for years. If you've not heard it, they can tell it well.

So what was funny made us laugh, and what was not funny made us wonder, and another wonderful meal it was.


Hunter said...

So, had anyone else had the Dukes epiphany? Or was it a glorious surprise to all?
m-m-m, Dukes.

Nancy DeCherney said...

We didn't share the Duke stash.

Polar Roller said...

Well, we had the Dane for dinner too, and got the same routine about not talking about food at the table, but, me, being me, proceeded to tell him something about food that he did not know..that Denmark is the 100% source of "Baby Back Ribs" in this country. He was totally bemused and had never heard of BBRibs.

Well, maybe what he meant to say, but was vexed by language, was something more like "In Denmark the food is unspeakable"? Well, okay, if you like dairy...but how much cheeze can you eat?

In Italy at table it is considered unseemly to speak of any body not mention in passing for instance your host's wife's or daughters toes. Bad form.