Monday, December 17, 2012


After getting off the plane a little over a week ago, we made our way to the office. Five minutes hadn't passed before the annual Christmas party was mentioned. It was the talk of the office all this past week. I had no idea what to expect, as I have never been to a workplace Christmas party. As the week went on, I knew I could expect two things: a lot of food and snaps. I underestimated both.

At any formal event, Danes will line the room and as guests arrive, they go down the line and shake everyone’s hands. I had no clue what was going on when I walked in the room and people were standing in a line around the room. I kept looking at the next person, completely puzzled, but went on saying about the only thing I can, “hej!” After all the employees and their significant others arrived, the CEO offered a toast. In Danish. Anytime I hear Danish, I start to daydream. Then they all looked at me! I smiled and he said something short, in English. Who knows what he said after. Kidding. After the toast, we headed to the dining area where other companies were having parties as well. On the table were all sorts of alcohol, Christmas beer, other beer, fruity liquor drinks and most importantly (most, snaps. 
Oh dear.
Bread was passed around, and we could put pickled herring on the bread. Along with butter and some mayonnaise, curry and chunk mixture. Nothing goes better with butter than mayonnaise.The bread most commonly used is called rugbrød (pronounced by holding your tongue to your lower lip and mumbling something), which is a dense, grainy bread. The Danes eat everything on bread. They should have a plate made entirely of bread so they can put ALL the things on it.  Once everyone had taken a bite, it was time to drink. With a raise of the glass of snaps, and a “Skål!” (Danish for cheers), the drinking had begun. And it never stopped. After the first fish dish, it was time for more fish and more bread. This time with the fatty fat on bread, we were served fried fish!When I commented about the stack of fat on my bread, they asked “You’re American, don’t you fry everything?” Not everything, but fried butter is our specialty. 

The one with the big hair! That's me!
After whatever course that was, it was time for another Danish tradition, the passing around of gifts! There are presents wrapped over and over and over again with characteristics of a person written on them. You must find the person at your table who matched the description, give them the gift and they open it. When you unwrap the present and find the gift, it is yours. I got "biggest hair" a couple times. We all know how I love to wear my hair big. 

Then it was time for dinner. Whole fruits (pears, apples, bananas), sliced fruit, bread, shrimp, bread, salmon, more salmon, bread for your salmon, spinach, another kind of salmon, and then about four kinds of herring. Disgusting blood sausage, beef, pork and pork ribs. Swing around to another line and you find duck, probably more salmon, spinach, potatoes that tasted like butter and cream with some potato, some more meat and then sausage. If you wanted to try everything, you would need a tray or two. And five stomachs. After you finished this course, you were allowed to go sample all the cheeses.

Half-eaten risalamande. yum!
For dessert risalamande is served. This rice and milk mixture has chopped almonds in it and ONE whole almond per dish. If you are the lucky one to get the almond, you hide it somewhere in your mouth so no one knows and everyone else keeps eating to find the almond. The good thing about Danish is you probably wouldn’t notice if you had an almond or ten in your mouth. The one who finds the almond gets a present. It is served with a cherry sauce. Supposedly in the old days when they would prepare this dish for Christmas Eve, the pot would be taken off the stove a little early and put in a warm bed, surrounded by hay to complete the cooking process. I’m sure they did this.

After dessert, there was a comedian. Danes think they are funny, but that’s funny in itself. (They also think they invented sarcasm. The phrase “Den-sarcasm-mark” exists for a good reason. Haven’t you heard it?) As the night went on, we drank, talked, sang Danish songs, and were merry. It was a lovely way to finish off my first week.

Snippets and Pictures!

I am currently doing software testing where the test procedures are written in English and Danish, filled with some humorous translations. Right click seems pretty easy. Nope. Why right click when you can "activate the right mouse?" I literally thought I needed another mouse. 

Søndergade in the heart of Aarhus. There are all kinds of stores and food places along the pedestrian walkway.

I love walking through Søndergade. People, music, coffee, food, and shopping!

I saw my first fjord. What a monumental event. Our Christmas party was at a casino and hotel on the Vejle Fjord.

I went to a delicious little pizza place today and got the biggest piece of pizza I have ever seen. And because I wanted the whole Pizza Pronto experience, I got lettuce, ranch dressing, some seasoning, and sriracha put on it. So.Good. 
Why have a side salad when you can put it on top?

During conversation, Danes will gasp as a way to show they understand something.

I tried to be a vegetarian when I was in Alaska and Kansas City. It was possible for a few months, but here it is impossible. I haven’t had bacon yet, and I hear it’s delicious in Denmark. I’ve tried though. Every day at lunch, there is this Christmassy apple bacon dish. Each day I think to myself, “oh, I’ll get a piece of bacon!” Then I get to the table and there is never any bacon. Today, I brought home the bacon! I saw it on my plate as I sat on the table. I was so excited. I saved the sweet dish for last, and I forked the bacon with a piece of apple. During transit from my plate to my mouth, OFF FLEW THE BACON. Hit my jacket, pants and then floor. Is the universe telling me I shouldn’t eat bacon? I don’t understand.

iPhones are a real struggle for Danish people. I have great pictures of the floor, table, and hands, but blurry pictures of what I actually wanted. 

Short street signs.

The Danish flag is everywhere. Someone having a birthday?? OH! Perfect occasion for a card with the flag on it. How about some flag cups, napkins, plates and stickers? Flag confetti is a must. The table certainly needs a Danish flag table cloth. 
All your birthday party decorating needs.

Christmas Tree in front of City Hall.

Bikes get their own lanes and turn lanes. Drivers are very conscious of bikers around them in traffic. Danes love bikes. Bikes love bikes. AND no one locks up their bikes. After living in Charleston for four years, this is shocking. Bikes don't get stolen. Please imagine that for a minute.
Bike Love.
One of the tables for lunch at work. The other table would have the different fish and meats. NOTE ALL THE BREAD. The dark bread on the left is the rugbrød. The stuff that looks like cat food on the right is liver. Then there is the bowl of beets labeled "SNACK."
Look at Yette's hat. Adorable.

I am still loving everything. Work is great, people are great, life is great. I can't complain! The Danes keep surprising me with their kindness. I know my way around. I had drinks with a couple of people the other night. I am so very happy, and things are going so well.

Wednesday, Helle (the lady I live with, who is a complete gem!) is having some people over for gløgg and æbleskiver (apple slices). I am going to contribute my favorite Christmas cookie, Rose's Crescents! I will post again with recipes! On Thursday, we are going to have our own little Christmas dinner complete with duck and other sides. I love all of this.

I saw this sign while waiting to cross the street. I really like it, and we all need a little reminder. 

Here is the only place we will ever be, and now is the only time we will ever have. ENJOY IT! Especially if the end of the world is Friday.

1 comment:

  1. AH your posts are something i live for! that pizza sounds amazing, we should try and make it when we reunite!
    and bacon definitely wants a place back in your life, just have open arms.