Danish Delicacies

Since I come from a family of foodies I have been careful to document my food adventures while here in Copenhagen.  I haven’t captured everything but the danes have a pension for combining ingredients in ways I never thought of.  As advertised they are very locally conscious and cook with lots seasonal foods.  Also there is copious amounts of fat and sugar in everything, but everyone here is tall, leggy, thin, and blonde.  Go figure.

Of course Ive been trying the local junk food.  These are ostepops which are like american pirates booty but with that nice orange glow of junk food. They are delicious.

These sandwiches are called Smørrebrød, which is basically an open-faced piece of fibrous bread with a bunch of stuff on top. The stuff varies. My friend and I tried two when we went to the market the other day. The first one is a huge slab of paté with a pile of pickles, bacon, herbs, and beets.

The second Smørrebrød was a large piece of unidentified smoked meat with pickled beets, pickles, pickles onions, and oranges. They are very fond of the pickling here, ranging from sour to sweet and coming in a variety of vegetables.

This is a slice of cake I bought at the same market. Not sure what was in it. I devoured it. It was a layer of chocolate cake with a thick layer of pink mousse on it. Super fluffy! The lady behind the counter said it was raspberry but I am skeptical. Anyway definitely need to go back for seconds.

This is a cake from the same bakery as above that I am planning to eat next time and I will report back.

This is a bad picture but this is a traditional Danish treat for birthdays and special occasions called a Flødeboller. Its is a big piece of fluff or marshmallow on a crispy cookie and covered in chocolate. Also something I could get used to.

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Carlsberg Factory

So on Wednesdays we have “field studies” which is free time in our schedule to go on excursions with our classes.  Each of my five courses has two Wednesdays reserved through the course of the semester.  One course will attend a paneled discussion, another will visit a refugee asylum.  You get the idea.  It also means I have a lot of Wednesdays with no classes, and a chance to do day trips or touristy things around Copenhagen.

This Wednesday I was going to get up early, but in classic fashion I slept until 1pm.  So I had some breakfast and met up with friends to make a plan.  With what was left of the afternoon we decided to go to the Carlsberg Factory/Museum.  I am not much of a beer drinker but I figured it was part of the cultural immersion process.  We walked about fifteen minutes to edge of the factory property where we were greeted by the elephant gates.  I thought they were adorable and took a picture.  

I took a few steps further and to see the other side of the elephants saddle was engraved with a Swastika.  Seeing that symbol towering above me in such a public place was extremely unnerving.  I became concerned for what kind of history we were going to learn at the factory.

Just beyond the elephants there was a plaque explaining the presence of the symbol.  

I found out later in the tour, as I saw swastikas branded on different building, that the Jacobsens had used the symbol as a part of the original logo.  In 1939, as the Nazis began to invade Europe, the Jacobsens permanently removed the image from their branding so as not be associated with Nazism.  

Once we got in the building it was 80 dk ($12) for a ticket, which provides a self guided tour and two vouchers for beer from different stalls in the factory.  The first room we entered was the old brew house where we were served a Carlsberg Dark Lager, which is made according to the Jacobsen’s original recipe. It is only produced in Denmark and on a very limited basis.  Im a beer novice but I thought it was tasty.  The information sheet said I was supposed caramel, chocolate, and a mix of other flavors, but I missed that.

We then went upstairs to the beer bottle collection where they have 22,527 bottles of beer on display.  They are different Carlsbergs from all over the world dating back almost a century.  

After we went through the Carlsberg historical timeline of beer production that dates back to 400 ad.  I was surprised while wandering around to find a large star of david amongst the beer paraphernalia 

Turns out it is something called the “Brewers Star." 

I thought this was a fun bit of folklore and as it turns out even beer needs a divine guardian.  After this we walked through the old parts of the factory that are no longer in use.  They were dark and underground so I don’t have any pictures.  It was a little creepy since they piped in sound effect of workmen rolling barrels and working.  Also they had wax figures of the workmen.  There was something a little horror movie about it.  

The final stop before the gift shop was the stables.  I assumed it was a converted stables, but as soon as we walked in I smelled horse.  Turns out it is where the Carlsberg horses live! just like the Budweiser Clydesdales.  I spent a solid thirty minutes petting the horsing and talking to them, to the point where my friends had to pull me from the room.  There are some cute pictures of me bonding with the horses, but they are on my friends camera so I will have to post them later.  I am definitely having separation issues here in Copenhagen without my dogs and the horses made a solid replacement.  

This is the only blurry picture of them I had on my phone.  

We stopped in the giftshop where I found some excellent gifts, which I am going to keep a surprise.  I have to say I am impressed the Carlsberg Factory was way more fun, interesting, and educational than I had predicted.  

Remembering in Black & White

Today is the International Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and not so coincidently it is also the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  (When discussing these issues its easy to become melodramatic and when dealing with events of this severity it is unnecessary, so I will do my best to avoid it.)

Today I’m thinking about human suffering and my trip to Auschwitz (and six other concentration camps) when I was 15. Images of Poland have flickered  through my mind all day and Im wondering about the sanctity of good and evil.  These ideas were crisply black and white when I was younger, but now they muddled shades of grey.  

The courses I am taking at DIS have complicated these issues.  In my International Refugee Law class, we discussed the prosecution of human smugglers, particularly those helping Syrian refugees flee their state.  They are internationally wanted criminals. A classmate astutely raised the point that the only difference between them and heroes of the Holocaust is perspective.  Think of the Kindertransport which safely rescued an estimated 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis, but they are also illegal child smugglers.

For my Terrorism class I am working on a presentation about the history of terrorism.  I looked up the definitions of the words, so I could pick one for my project. The most accurate definition is “the use of violence and threats by non-state actor to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.”  Technically this describes the Bielski Partisans a violent resistance group (non-state actor) who combatted the actions of the Nazi regime based on their political decisions. They were terrorists.

I am also taking course on Genocide this semester where we closely examine the limitations of human rights.  On the first day my professor said “human rights are not a god to which we pray, human rights are a number of laws.” In class we went through the thirty articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on Genocide.  We analyzed these documents and the specific clauses. 

I hear all this and I can rationalize it.  I can try to understand the nuances of international law.  I know I need a firm understanding of human rights so I can properly execute the work I am passionate about. This I accept.   But on days like today I cannot help but to embrace my bias.

I think of Frida Rozmati, a one year old girl who was gassed and cremated the day she arrived at Auschwitz.  I think of the pebble sitting on my dresser at home in the US, that I picked up outside of a barrack in Auschwitz where a survivor I know lived.  Mostly I remember the fifteen year old version of myself who sat on the floor of the mausoleum at Majdanek Concentration camp consumed by sobs as she stared at the ashes of 230,000 people.  Right now I am forcing myself to remember what the enormous hill of grey remains looked like and my chest physically pains.  I know I can do something to prevent this from happening again.  Not alone and not a big something, but it will matter.  For today, however I will remember and I will let my heart hurt.

I.
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

-Song of the Open Road, Walt Whitman 

What is in a name?

So when I decided to make the typical 20-something study abroad blog there was a great deal of discussion about what it should be called.  My first thought was the “Chronic Traveler,” which I thought was a punny combination of my love of adventure and my issues with chronic joint pain. That dark humor did not go over well with everyone.

My next idea was Song of the Open Road, which is the title of my all-time favorite poem by Walt Whitman, which is about the joys of travel.  When I shared that suggestion with a friend he said it sounded like something an 18 year old taking a gap year motorcycling through Vietnam would call a blog about their feelings and sunsets. So that was vetoed too.

Eventually blocking out the stream of opinions I settled on Nomadic Tendencies, since as much as I love my home I struggle to stay in one place for very long before I feel the need to start wandering again.  

In any event Song of the Open Road is a fifteen part poem which I feel like narrates my experiences pretty well, so I decided to post a section of the poem each week, which will coincidently bring me to the end of my semester in Denmark.

This is a pic from the Kings Gardens where I was wandering around yesterday when suddenly the clouds broke. It was the first time I’ve seen the blue skies since I’ve been in Copenhagen. Looking forward to the days getting longer here but it’s not as grim as everyone said.

Pirates and Strawberry Daiquiris

Yesterday was FDOC (First Day of Classes) and I have to say I absolutely love what I do.  I am one of those people who is so lucky in the sense that I found what I love early on and I have been able to follow that passion all over the world.  A lot of folks says that there isn’t a lot of studying involved in studying abroad, but I let my classes dictate where I went this semester and I am thrilled with that decision.  As nerdy as it may be, it feels great to be back in the classroom surrounded by people from all over the US who are passionate about the same things.  

This semester I am taking 5 classes 

  • Humanitarian Law and Armed Conflict
  • Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
  • Genocide and the Holocaust
  • Gender Perspectives on Human Rights
  • International Refugee Law

My first class yesterday was Humanitarian Law, which is my core course.  This means we take two field trips together.  One to another part of Denmark and one’s a week long international trip. Our class will go to Bosnia for the week which I am super excited about.  The class is co-taught by two Danes who both have military backgrounds.  They both did tours in the middle east as well as Kosovo, worked at the ministry of defense, and advise the Danish military.  They seem to have known each other for decades and have a bit of a bromance.  

Three memorable moments from the first day of class is when our more serious professor revealed his great fondness for strawberry daiquiris, which he did not realize was a feminine drink until he went out with some of his American students for a drink.  

The second moment was when they talked about how it was good to have co-instructors, since they both work full time.  Therefore they can cover for one another when there is a last minute work conflict.  The example they gave is that last semester, one of them took over teaching when the other had to go hunt pirates for a week for the Danish government.  Thats right, my professor went to hunt for pirates.  

The final oddity was when we were going around the room introducing ourselves and our backgrounds.  The majority of students are the total peacenik/human rights centric types that I would classify myself as.  Then my professor asked about my program and I realized on the left to right spectrum of peace studies I was the only person in a predominantly military program.  It was one of those weird out of body experiences where you see yourself as others see you.  My co-professors were super excited that someone would understand the cynicism, rationality, and direct approach of a person with a military background.  

I on the other hand realized my peers in my PWAD program at UNC imagine me carrying anti-war protest signs in my free time, where as here among my peers in Denmark I fall far right and they can probably better imagine me at a shooting range (haha). 

Regardless I am super excited about this class, the diverse range of students, and the professors who seem quite funny, intelligent, and as thought they have legitimate real world experience.  

I have attended my five other classes but I will do a full write up of those later!