Eating Overseas

Hej! (That’s Danish for “hi!”) I went to Denmark earlier this month, and I have to tell you what eating was like over there. First, because the food was SO good. But also, because eating overseas was so different than eating here in the States.

We were super lucky to be able to share meals with three sets of relatives. And with all of them, I noticed that people enjoy eating. Oh, I know we all enjoy eating sometimes. But the difference in Denmark was that people didn’t spend time worrying about what they were or weren’t putting in their mouths. They didn’t apologize, they didn’t act ashamed, they didn’t brag.

I never heard anyone say, “I’ll be good tomorrow” after eating a delicious pastry. I didn’t hear anyone say, “I was so bad, I can’t have dessert.” Maybe I was just lucky to be around people who don’t make food into an endless moral discussion. Or maybe Danes have a healthier relationship with what they put in their mouths.

It was so nice to just enjoy a buffet lunch, coffee (at three o’clock, of course!), or dinner without lamenting what we could/couldn’t or should/shouldn’t have. I had smørrebrød (open-face sandwiches) and cakes and caviar and beer. (I found a beer I actually like!) And not once did I think or say anything other than, “Wow, that was delicious!”

The day before we came home, my mom and I were sitting in a restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland. A woman with an American accent told her dining companion, “Oh no, I don’t eat bread.” She later told the server that she would look at the dessert menu, but she wouldn’t eat any. (She did order some.)

We could all take a cue from the Danish people, or at least those in my family. Sit down with your loved ones. Pass the wine and bread. Share spirited conversation. Laugh. Learn to let go of the stress of food. Let it fill your belly, your heart, and your mind. Skål! (That’s Danish for “cheers!”)