Danish Traditions: What Is Smørrebrød?

smorrebrod

Smorrebrod. Photo courtesy of cyclonebill.

It doesn’t get much more traditional in Danish culture than with smorrebrod (literally meaning “buttered bread”). Essentially an open-faced sandwich usually featuring rye sourdough bread, smorrebrod present different combinations of seafood, meat, vegetables and condiments, and are typically enjoyed with a cold local beer or snaps (aquavit). Try the “Shooting Star,” made with butter-fried white bread, a slice of steam white fish, a slice of fried white fish, shrimp garnished with a dollop of mayo, red caviar or lumpfish roe, and a lemon slice. There’s also the “Sun over Gudhjem” made with smoked herring, egg yolk, radish and chives. The “Veterinarian’s Midnight Snack” is another delicious choice, made with butter- or duck fat-coated rye bread topped with liver pate, salt beef, aspic and red onion rings. Some other topping and combinations you might find include fried herring, homemade chicken salad, smoked venison with scrambled eggs, homemade sausage, old cheese with onions and gravy, smoke salmon, smoked eel with scrambled eggs and a fish fillet with Danish remoulade, to name a few.

There are a few rules to remember when enjoying smorrebrod so that you survive your first “Danish cold table” without issue. Always eat herring first, then any other fish, then meat, then cheese. Use a knife and fork instead of your hands, and toast (Skal!) frequently making sure to clink everyone’s glasses while looking them in the eye before you drink.

Some traditional venues to sample Smørrebrød when visiting Copenhagen, a great destination for the delicacy, include Peter Liep’s House, Orangeriet, Tivolihallen, Aamanns and Restaurant Kronborg.

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Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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