Tastes of Abroad: Copenhagen

While it is difficult to capture the entirety of experiences while abroad, there are always some that stick out. The ones that do stick out often involve munching on some new discovery that will make you never want to go back to a country gone rampant with frozen pizzas.

This week I’ll be giving you a snapshot of Macalester junior James Hargens’ culinary adventures last fall in Copenhagen, Denmark. Talking to James about his experience, you immediately get the impression that food had a major impact on his daily life in Copenhagen. From living with a host family, to visiting what is considered by Restaurant Magazine “the best restaurant in the world,” Noma, he experienced many different situations that allowed him to explore Danish culture, and others, through the use of a fork and knife.

It was particularly interesting to me that in his host family experience he got to not only taste what would be considered cuisine native to Denmark, but also a “hodgepodge of traditional meatballs and potatoes and curry and rice dishes.” His host mother, being from Sri Lanka, brought South Asian cuisine alongside traditional Danish staples every evening. He appreciated having an interesting variety and “coming home to that after such a long day,” especially in a “country so particularly homogenous.”

In addition to having cultures meet on the dining room table, James also had an exciting experience in getting the chance to visit Denmark’s Noma restaurant before its impending closure in December, 2016. Noma, a 2-michelin star restaurant, is world-renowned for artistic and modern takes on traditional Nordic cuisines. Noma specializes in craftsmanship and innovation that goes into transforming ingredients native to Denmark and Danish food into works of visual art. James himself has said that learning about new dishes and ways of cooking has inspired him to get “other students from DIS together to cook Danish cuisine” for other Macalester students.

As I continue to interview students from around Macalester’s community of study abroad returnees, I look forward to continue hearing about interesting stories about exploring the unknown through the means of a foreign menu. If you’d like to have your experience featured or just talk about how food really affected your time abroad, feel free to contact me and share your story.