Summertime in Scandinavia is just the best. As soon as the season begins, Scandinavians spend as much time outside as possible. The parks are full of people hanging out in the grass, going to the beaches for walks, sunbathing when it is warm enough, swimming and of course… eating. A Scandi will be the first to have lunch outdoors. In Copenhagen, restaurants offer blankets with every chair so customers can indulge in the open air while enjoying their food.
Nordic summer foods are simple. A meal in the summer may include fresh boiled new potatoes and green salad for starters, pasta with fresh clams for the main course and fresh berries for dessert. I grew up eating what we could grow in the garden during the summer, and even though the growing season is quite brief because of the weather, fresh salads, tomatoes, small potatoes and berries were staple foods on the table. And, of course, there was the traditional bread served; so much of the Danish food lends itself to being served on top of a piece of dark rye bread.
Fish and shellfish are popular summer delights either cooked on a grill or simmered in a jus. Because so much water surrounds all of the Nordic countries, many go out to get their own shells as a pastime, but local fishermen sell them off their boats in abundance.
One of my favorite Nordic foods is the open sandwich. During the winter, we would not consider it a dinner meal; we would only eat it for lunch. However, in the summer, we would often have open sandwiches for dinner while sitting outside on the terrace. This allowed us to do less cooking and to spend more time outside after working all day long.
For dessert, we would have fresh berries with milk or crème. My current version is served with nut milk instead of cow’s milk. Also, instead of putting sugar on top as we did when I was a kid, I like to add a little something unexpected. Try it with a dash of mint or some fresh sorrel, or if you’re feeling really daring, try it with a twist of black pepper!
Jeanette Bronée founded Path for Life in 2004 in hopes of bringing awareness to the healing power of learning how our choices affect us. She established the nine-step online Path for Life Self-Nourishment Program based on her integrative, mind-body approach to nourishment, which she developed over the course of a decade by helping clients transform their relationships with food.
In addition to her private coaching practice, Bronée is a writer, recipe developer and motivational speaker with a specialty in emotional eating. pathforlife.com.
Photography by Torkil Stavdal
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