I hope you are having an exciting summer so far! Here in Denmark, it’s been unusually hot due to the heatwave, and many people seem to be unprepared without air conditioners in their homes. Anyways, amid this ‘warm’ weather, my classmates and I went on a week-long Study Tour where we traveled around Denmark, specifically to the islands called Samsø and Jutland! We’ve done MANY things over the trip, so I’d just like to give you some highlights of the past week.
What first fascinated me was the variety of landscapes outside Copenhagen!
Copenhagen, though designed smartly and more pedestrianized, is still a city that most tourists usually have a chance to explore, but getting to visit vast natural landscape on the island of Samsø, as well as old towns found on Jutland, is, I think, one of the perks of studying abroad. Two of my favorites are the endless “vegetable safari” that we got to tour in Samsø, and Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark as well as Scandinavia.
All these majestic sceneries aside, since I’m in Tasting Culture: Nordic Food, Tradition, and Nutrition, a lot of the activities on the trips were food-related — including eating delicious meals like the picture below!
The keywords in Samsø were fresh vegetables (especially POTATOES!!) and beer. In addition to a beer tasting at a local brewery, where I found my new favorite flavor — licorice, which somewhat tasted like coffee —, we visited a local farm and used vegetables we foraged there for an open sandwich competition! Much like Nordic taste, which accentuates natural flavor by adding the same or opposing spice combined with basic salt and pepper, my group made a sandwich whose color reminds us of fall (or so the cooking teacher commented)…
In Jutland, continuing the food journey from Samsø, we were able to visit many of the places where food is produced, or we made food ourselves!
We did another foraging in the Wadden Sea National Park, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Divided into groups, we caught snails, shrimps, and seaweeds to later cook for ourselves in the natural fire. Though I was not the biggest fan of seafood before, especially of those two specific creatures, I was surprised that the dishes we made tasted so delicious! It was one of the important lessons during this trip — knowing “terroir,” or certain traits or flavor of the food given by the local environment where it was produced, such as soil and climate, affects our food experience. Spending hours under the sun and the strong wind catching the food to fill our bellies, and knowing that they come from the clean waters of the Wadden Sea, it tasted just superb.
Other “terroir” moments were the dairy farm visit and wine tasting. While the dairy farm had a ‘wonderful’ smell of its own, the milk we got to try right out of the machine was the best glass of milk I have ever tasted. “Cold melted soft-served ice cream without that extra sweetness” — was my description of the sensation, if you know what I mean… It was also surprising to learn how high-tech the farm was, monitoring each cow with a barcode to measure the amount of the milk they produce and detect any issues with them if they ever occur!
As opposed to the last time I visited Napa Valley in California when I was underage and was given grape juice and ice candies while waiting around, this time I actually got to do a wine tasting for the first time in my life! There was a technique to learn, of course — the basic principles of three Ws and four Ss.
Knowing the “terroir” is a key to this experience as well— three Ws, or what type of grape they use, where is the region of origin, and when was it produced. In the process, we go through four Ss — see the color in the white background, smell, sip, and savor the aftertaste and tonics — and spit in a bucket!
Reflecting back, as a busy student like myself, I often had meals in the car or during short breaks, where I ate in rush, or while watching TV. On this trip, I was able to learn how to really enjoy and savor the food. It is to know more about the food itself, including its history and origin, and also to taste it using all my senses.
Maybe, these lessons can be applied to life as well. Though we tend to always think of cramming things into our schedule, what’s really important is to feel your presence and in the surroundings including people around you using all the possible senses that you have — regardless of the scales or perceived value of your experience. Whether having a big party, getting coffee with your friend, or just eating dinner by the window in your room — just being curious about what’s in front of you, and really listen, smell, see, taste, and touch — may be a key to happiness.
Anyways, I hope that you are having a happy week so far, and till see you next time on the blog.