Monday, October 31, 2011

Interview with Lene!

My Danish friend, Lene, who is getting her associate degree in Graphic Design at the school I teach at, agreed to do an interview with my blog, and I'm excited to share her love of her country!

So, just how cold does it get in Denmark, and does the weather change dramatically throughout the year? Well, it can get pretty cold in the winter months - January and February can get very icy, which is not popular among the bicyclists in Denmark :)  In the summer, however, it can be just like in San Diego - nice and warm.  The only thing about the summer is, that you never know....You must come prepared, even though the weather channel promised a sunny and clear sky :) 

I've noticed there are a lot of amusement parks in Denmark - is there a particular reason why? Is there one you visited the most while growing up?
Hmmmmm, that's a good question.  My guess is that Tivoli has inspired many, as it is the oldest (1843) and one of the most popular amusement parks in Europe.  Personally, Tivoli is also my favorite - there's just something about it - It has a soul.  Just walking around in there is a great way to spend time - you don't even have to spend money on rides. 
What is your favorite Danish holiday?
 Christmas - no doubt about it!  My family has so many traditions and it's very important for us to stick with them.  The day before christmas eve (Dec. 23) my mom prepares "ris a l'amande" (the dessert for christmas eve - and no, it's not french.  They don't even know about this dish in France :))  This night we are mostly all gathered, waiting for the day to arrive.  On the 24., it's all about the family - I go visit my closest family in the afternoon (where "the kids" always watch Disney's Christmas Show on TV), we eat homemade marcipan confections, and smell the duck or goose getting ready in the oven.  And then, at six, we gather around the table, say a little thank-you-prayer (even though we're not particularly Christian), and then we eat (goose, cooked red cabbage, cooked white cabbage, tiny sugared potatoes, and of course, gravy).  We eat the dessert.  And then just sit and talk across the lit candles.  THEN we gather around the tree to dance and sing.  We typically sing 4-5 different christmas carols before we start distributing the presents underneath the tree.  Around midnight, we go to midnight mass.  Two days after christmas, the entire family gather for a big christmas lunch (julefrokost) with schnapps, pickled herring, rye bread, and much much more.  Love it! :)
Could you tell me about your favorite Danish meal? 
Hmm...that's a hard one  :)  One of them is my grand mothers "frikadeller" with her homemade creamy cooked white cabbage.  Not healthy, but SO good!  My other favorite is seedy, chewy rye bread with toppings ( what we call Smørrebrød) - my favorite topping being cooked potatoes with mayo, chives and salt and pepper, OR smoked salmon OR "leverpostej" (a kind of paté) with cucumber OR fish fillets with "remoulade" (don't know how to explain the last one, haha)
Danish Danishes
Are the American pastries, Danishes, actually anything like authentic Danish pastries? 
I'd say they are similar :)  I'm no big pastry eater, but even I must admit that there's something about Danish pastries from the local bakery.  Can't really explain what it is - you'll have to go and give it a taste :) 

How do you feel about the recent Danish "Fat Tax"? 
I think it's a good idea, but I hope people will keep buying all the great Danish cheeses - we're pretty good with cheese in Denmark.  And many fear that artificial flavors will take over the food industry.  SO we'll see.   I just think it's too bad that it had to come to this.  I would've preferred that people could figure out how to enjoy saturated fat in moderation.  

 What kinds of pets do Danish people tend to have? Are Great Danes really Danish? 
I think the most popular dogs in Denmark are Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever - both great family dogs.  The Great Dane is supposedly Danish, some claim that it is German.  It's an old breed, so it's hard to say:)  But I love 'em! 
Danish monarchy
What is your view of the Danish monarchy?
Hmm, another hard one...  I like the Monarchy - without them Denmark wouldn't be Denmark anymore.  They have a lot of value for us.  However, I think they get a litle too much of our tax money.  I definitely want to support the restoration of our castles and such, but they seem to get way more than that.  But I'm no expert :) 
 Could you describe Copenhagen a bit?  
I love the fact, that if you have a bike, you can get everywhere downtown, and the public transportation is great.  The lakes in central Copenhaven are beautiful and kinda keeps the city in balance - just like the many green areas.  Strøget, which is the shopping street and its surrounding shopping streets make it easy to get to all the stores - you can walk from one end to another, to the third and fourth - way more charming than american malls, I must admit ;)

If you had to sum up the Danish people's outlook on life in just a few words, what would you say?
I can only speak for the people I know, of course, and generally their outlook is very positive - they work hard to balance work and family.  They love seeing the world and love being inspired, but at the same time they love even more to come home :)
Danish Rye Bread

What have you missed the most about Denmark while you've been in America?
My family!  Rye bread - real rye bread! ;)  Getting all over town by bike (it just doesn't feel very safe here.  I've also missed that you don't have to leave a tip everywhere you go - I never got used to that here in the US -  I never knew how much to leave.  In Denmark the price is higher, but it also includes tips, so you don't have to worry about that.  Oh, and I miss the free health care, haha.  
What will you miss most about America when you go back?
That it's so cheap to eat out (despite the tipping)!  Steelcut oatmeal (we don't seem to have that in Denmark).  All the organic stores! - Whole Foods, Trader Joe's.  We need stores like that in Denmark.  I'm gonna miss the people here too - they are all so open and welcoming.  It's so easy to get to know people here!  And of course, I am gonna miss the weather here in San Diego - it's SO NICE, and it's great to only need to buy for one wardrobe, haha.  I'm gonna miss fish tacos and fish burritos, and the America BBQs :)


  1. Great interview!! It's interesting to see that food items feature heavily in the things Lene will miss about America.

  2. There is a family in my neighborhood that celebrates the Danish traditions, like Jul. They told me about how they ate rice pudding and danced around the tree. I'll have to tell them about what I read on this blog when I return their Danish language-learning materials. ;)

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