The drama of the Danish lunch table

The office where I work offers us free lunch, which I think is really kind and it seems to be quite common in Danish workplaces. The only downside is this: I still don’t really know my Danish lunch etiquette. Even after all the years that I’ve been sitting down to eat with my husband’s family, I still get nervous about looking like a rye bread amateur.

Our collective lunches at work should simply be a nice break and a way to fill my tummy while getting to know my new colleagues, but each lunch feels more like a slightly stressful exercise in trial and error.

I take my two pieces of rye bread (this seems to be the normal amount to take, so I’m doing ok there) and then stare at my options: lovely smoked salmon (røget laks), herring in curry sauce (carrysild), prawns (rejer), slices of ham (skinke). It seems difficult to go wrong with these base items, but then it gets really complicated – what’s the right thing to put on top of my salmon?

Because it’s not ok just to have salmon on bread, or ham on bread, or even curry herring on bread. You must put something on top, but should it be onion (løg)? Tomato (tomat)? Cucumber (agurk)? Red pepper (rød peberfrugt)? When is it ok to use a soft boiled egg as a topping?

Looking for the magic combination

So far, I think I’ve worked out that it’s a bit weird to put red pepper on top of salmon, but onion seems to be an all-purpose topping. I’ll keep on trying different combinations and looking out for my colleagues’ reactions.

And I know, my colleagues don’t actually pay much attention to what I put on my plate, but I enjoy trying to pass as a Dane. I’ve more or less got the language sorted, so now I need to work on Danish customs.

Maybe one day, I’ll get it right. Until then, can you enlighten me? Which Danish open sandwich combinations work the best, and what’s the most unusual combination you’ve tried?



One thought on “The drama of the Danish lunch table

  1. Leuk, heb ik ook gehad, die periode. Intussen, na 40jaar heb ik het geleerd. Italiensk salat op skinke, peberrødssalat op oksekød, løg og sky op rullepølse….. Onverklaarbaar voor een Nederlander.. 😊


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