The Foods eaten by the people of Denmark

The culinary history of Denmark has seen considerable change over the past 500 years, reflecting both the agricultural bounty of the country and its evolving social and economic conditions. Traditional Danish cuisine has been characterized by its simple and hearty nature, although there has been a significant transformation, especially in recent times, owing to globalization and the New Nordic cuisine movement.

Staples:

  • Rye Bread: A staple for centuries, often used for open-faced sandwiches known as smørrebrød.
  • Potatoes: Introduced in the 18th century, quickly becoming a staple food.
  • Grains: Barley, oats, and wheat have long been used for bread and porridge.

Proteins:

  • Pork: The most consumed meat, used in various forms including sausages, roasts, and as bacon.
  • Fish: Herring, cod, and plaice are traditionally consumed, often pickled, smoked, or dried.
  • Dairy: Cheese, milk, and butter are important in Danish cuisine, and Denmark has a high per capita consumption of dairy products.

Vegetables:

  • Cabbage: Consumed in various forms, including as sauerkraut or in soups and stews.
  • Root Vegetables: Such as carrots, turnips, and beets have been historically important.
  • Legumes: Peas and beans have been consumed, although not as heavily as other staples.

Fruits:

  • Apples: Used in desserts like apple cake (æblekage) and in ciders.
  • Berries: Such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are enjoyed fresh, in jams, or in desserts.

Spices and Condiments:

  • Salt: Used for preserving foods, especially fish.
  • Mustard, Horseradish, and Dill: Commonly used for flavoring.

Beverages:

  • Beer: Ale and later lager have been popular for centuries.
  • Akvavit and Snaps: Traditional spirits flavored with herbs like dill or caraway.

Traditional Dishes:

  • Frikadeller: Danish meatballs made of pork or a mix of meats.
  • Stegt flæsk: Fried pork belly, often served with potatoes and a parsley sauce.
  • Smørrebrød: Open-faced sandwiches on rye bread, with various toppings like pickled herring, liver pâté, and cheese.

Historical Influences:

  • Viking Era: Early influences include the consumption of fish, pork, and foraged foods.
  • Middle Ages: Introduction of new culinary techniques and ingredients like spices through trade.
  • French and Italian Influence: In the 17th and 18th centuries, French and Italian cooking techniques influenced the royal and noble households.

Modern Influences:

  • New Nordic Cuisine: A movement focusing on local, seasonal ingredients, with an emphasis on foraging and traditional foods.
  • Globalization: Like elsewhere, international foods and fast-food chains have become more prevalent, particularly in urban areas.

Overall, the last 500 years have seen the Danish diet evolve from a focus on simple, locally sourced foods to include a broader range of ingredients and cooking techniques, influenced by both historical circumstances and modern trends.

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