Sunday, 26 April 2015

Meal 54. Danish Boller i Karry (Meatballs in curry sauce) with rice

Louise with guest Jason at the buffet table
 My last meal for the blog while in Sierra Leone is provided by the charming Louise, a friend of my previous host Sheka. I have not met her before I rock up at her home. It is filled with her children's drawings, but sadly, she has to miss their presence for now. Family life was disrupted by the Ebola outbreak in West-Africa, schools closed, and many ex-pats left temporarily. Thankfully, it looks like Louise will be reunited with her kids quite soon.
For the occasion, she has rounded up a few other compatriots that reside in Freetown. Nina has brought a tin of liver pâté (leverpostej), Susanne a jar of herring in curry sauce (karrysild) and Kim's contribution is desert; assorted licorice (vingummier, lakridser and piratos).

Salmon, liver pâté and avocados

After a little introductory round to get to know all the other guests, we cluster around the buffet table and help ourselves to the starters. Smoked salmon (a rare treat in Sierra Leone) with avocado and homemade cucumber pickles on bread. In Denmark, these open-faced sandwiches (smørrebrød) are quite a phenomenon, though they usually would use thin slices of dense rye bread rather than the French bread available to us here. What makes these sandwiches so special is the bread, the types of topping and the fact that huge amounts of the topping are heaped on the bread, be it
The meatballs in curry sauce
smoked salmon, cheese, or herring in curry sauce like today. I would not immediately associate 'curry sauce' with a Scandinavian country, but it appears to be an integral part of the Danish cuisine. Apart from the herring, the main course (chunky meatballs) is also served in curry sauce. They are not particularly photogenic, but I'm glad to report they are delicious. The sauce is not very spicy at all; it is seen as real comfort food, and great for kids too. The meatballs contain some vegetables as well (carrots) so with the rice it is quite a well balanced meal. Though all the Danes present confirm that potatoes are the traditional axis around which all meals revolve, they agree that this particular dish should definitely be served with rice. 'Exotic' elements like rice and curry already became integrated in Danish food many years ago, probably due to their colonial presence in India in the 17th-19th century.

Looks nondescript, tastes great!
However, Kim recounts that in the eighties some of his compatriots had never even tried products like avocado or papaya. He travelled to a small island and for an agricultural fair had prepared some for people to try. An enthusiastic visitor took a slice of papaya and immediately dipped it in the guacamole, yum!

After dinner we gather round the sofa and have some of the licorice. As I grew up in the Netherlands, I actually truly appreciate this as a treat. Some of the Brits present are less enthusiastic.

Somehow, I have convinced Susanne that the dinners for this blog always include the hosts singing the national anthem...and dutifully, the three blondes (Kim opts out) sit down and manage quite a few tuneful verses of (for me) unintelligible lyrics. They also explain some of the traditions surrounding Christmas and New Year Eve's celebrations, which involve the British comedy sketch Dinner for One being repeated on television year after year. And the queen's 
speech on December 31 is obligatory viewing for all Danes, not to be missed if at all possible.

A truly delightful evening. Afterwards Louise even sends me a picture of real Danish rye bread that she made herself a few days later (one of the guests at this dinner had brought the flour as a present). She uses a lot of exclamation marks to convey her excitement and writes that it was 'almost like Christmas'. Only when you are away from home for longer do staple foods take on such a special meaning!
So blonde, these Danes! All ready to sing the national anthem.

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