Shortly after moving from the U.S. to Denmark in early 2018, I embarked upon an art project called “How to Fall in Love with a New Country through Food in 100 Days.” Every single day, from April 3rd to July 11th, I made an illustration paired with a small story of something I learned and loved about Danish food culture. This post features one of the lessons I’m taking away from it.
We're Surrounded by Food
In getting to know the edible Danish landscape, I started with my own backyard. Some of the fruit—raspberries and strawberries—had been staple treats back home, and it was comforting to find them here. But others—the wild forest strawberries and black currants—were a whole new experience
Beyond the backyard, I could not wait to forage for elderflower (or hyldeblomst) when it bloomed in spring. The fragrant white blossoms were EVERYWHERE! They spilled out onto the sidewalks, grew next to the train tracks, and stood proudly in a quiet park. To capture this magical time, we made a big batch of elderflower cordial to brighten drinks all year ‘round.
Learning about wild Danish foods prompted learning about food in the U.S., too. Take chamomile, for example. On a foraging tour, we ate it straight from the ground. There was so much flavor! It tasted of anise, sweet and strong. This whole time, I’d kept chamomile inside the “tea” category, but it took a move across an ocean for me to realize it can be so much more.
Then there are the people who do the work of picking and preparing the wild foods for you, like with this havtorn (sea buckthorn berry) sorbet. The super sour berry grows rampantly on the coasts of Denmark, and you have to fend off huge thorns to get to the fruit. In cases like this, I’m happy to see major food producers do the legwork
Starting in June with cherries, the fruit trees around here popped. For a long while, I just walked by the fruit-heavy branches, as they always seemed to high or time seemed too short. But now I've decided to ‘go for it,’ and now I’m stopping at every cherry, plum, fig, and apple tree I see. It’s a pleasure to notice the orchards we walk among on a daily basis.
To sum it all up:
There is something so liberating and primal about plucking food directly from where it grows and eating it on the spot. The act peels away the complexity of our modern food system and leaves one with the simple feeling of being fed directly by nature. I hope the next time you spot something edible in the public domain, you will ‘go for it,’ too.