Sunday, June 3, 2007

Some notes from Østerbro... where I’m now Copen’ in the Hagen.



I have moved! My new neighborhood, affectionately called yuppie Østerbronx, is a delightful enclave a kilometer outside City-proper, close to the 5 city lakes, some stylish boutiques, chic cafes, cool clubs, bars, city-squares, and some ol’ churches (a charming one just across from my flat, behind the Thai take-away joint that serves deliiiicious karry kylling).

You should see the neighborhood for yourself. Visitors are welcome anytime.

[I should mention... that during a bike ride a week ago I hit the deck (that's cyclists' parlance for crashing hard). I suffered two breaks in the greater tuberosity bone of my shoulder... and if you've ever seen Dawn of the Dead my bruises resemble an attack by one of those ooky creatures. Like a zombie hickey. Cool.]

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At the end of this update, you’ll find a link to an interesting Travel & Leisure article I stumbled upon. Apparently I'm not alone in my decision that Copenhagen has the most forward-thinking design concepts this side of Mars. Danes eat style for breakfast, and apparently it's fat-free. I marvel at the way danes stay so trim when half of the 6 aisles of their super-cute danish supermarkets are entirely devoted to sweets. Chokolade, licorice, flødeboller, hindbærsnitter-- heaven scent confections that give you a toothache just looking at 'em. Except for their black, salty licorice. That so-called “candy” is beloved by all native-born danes, but I think it tastes like fertilizer. Not the sweet type that grows pretty pink flowers. But the coarse, poisonous kind that kills the weeds on the lawns of Communist palaces. Licorice isn’t just a candy in Denmark, it’s a movement. As a postmodernist, I think its for the birds. So I stick to the marzipan.

Candy is apparently not a threat to the modern danes’ waistline's, as most are far too active scurrying about town on their bicycles. They are also less crash-prone than foreigners such as myself.

There’s a reason why Americans give a shout out to Denmark for the breakfast pastries we eat on occasion (or every morning, if you’re my father): I speak of ‘the danish.’’ I don’t like American danishes. They are too sacchariney sweet, monochromatic, bland and stale. They don’t eat anything in Denmark that resembles our version of a “cherry danish”… like the Svenhards’ brand you can buy at the Piggly Wiggly, or the organic, whole-wheat vegan fare at Whole Foods (scam alert). Rather, the danes give a nod to an Alpine nation to their south, Austria, and use the word “wienerbrød” to classify sweet pastries we know as danishes. Wienerbrød translates to Viennese-bread. My favorite treat is called a rum-snegl.

In case you didn’t know by now, the danish M.O. is humility. I think Denmark produces the best pastries in all of Europe, and I’ve tasted breads and confections in most countries on this continent, with the exception of a few hot contenders (France and Belgium). But typically danish, in Denmark they name their breads after another country.

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My mom came over for a visit a few weeks back, and I did what most normal kids do on Mother’s Day when visiting with mom on her special day. I had her (help me) paint the kitchen of my new flat. Then in the afternoon, we went out for some culture, which we found at the Fredriksberg Designer Outlet sale... and later at a tour of the Carlsberg Brewing Factory.
Carlsberg has been around since 1847. Its headquarters is in a neighborhood of CPH called Valby, and they offer educational tours that include just enough free beer samples to get you and your mom wasted.

Going back to Danish humility, the slogan of Carlsberg beer—that you will see in green flashing signage scattered across Denmark is this:

Carlsberg. Probably the Best Beer in the World.

Notice the stress on the probably. Non-commital, upbeat, brewed with humility, the danes like to under-promise and over-deliver. They don’t need to tell anyone how great they are, how wonderful their product is, or how hygge/cozy their country feels. They know it already, and that’s all that matters.



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I stumbled on a Travel & Leisure article the other day and found it stunningly accurate. The editor of the magazine agrees that Copenhagen is a rising star as far as European capitals go.

Don't tell too many people however. It's in my own selfish interest to keep Americans thinking that I’m living in “Denmark” -- a region of…. hmmm?....not Sweden, not France, somewhere near the Netherland’s underpants. Yes, er—near Amsterdam maybe—where the hash-is-a-plenty and so are the beautiful tall people. Right?

One day, maybe I’ll understand why so many Americans make that gaffe, thinking I live in Holland. Anywho… read this travelogue and book your ticket to one of the Nordic countries, that is: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland or Finland. (If you’re rich, go to Iceland, buy one of their famous mini ponies. If you’re not, try Finland—it’s the poor man’s Russia. Sidebar, the Finns hate the Swedes, because they were sold by them to Russia a century ago. I’d be pissed too.). If you’re looking to party like a rockstar, go to Denmark. If you want to buy oil, barrels of the most expensive kind, go to Norway. If you want to find people even more repressed and attractive than the danes, go to Sweden.) Tell them I sent you.

Okay, enough ridiculous stereotyping. Det er ikke sjov. Knus fra Cammy.

http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/designed-for-living

1 comment:

Nis said...

Hey Camryn!

This is very captivating reading. And a very possitive and complimentary entry on Danish pastries and on the humility of the People (/major commercial enterprises).

It's really flattering to read about your take on a country such as ours. And it's also interesting to read the unflattering, bold notions. Mainly because I notice that I instinctively take it personally as a member of the nationality that you are talking (generalising) about, and yet , you may be right on the button and I have no reason to feel offended on behalf of whoever spurred these notions of yours.
So, it's fascinating to read an American's notes on the little things that you are yourself so familiar with, yet totally unaware of in the everyday life. And on top of that, you write so brilliantly well and with a wonderful gaiety.
- The innocent notion about the shih-tzus recieving commands in Danish and yet replying in perfect English had me smile inside. (and outside of course, but that's no proof of quality)

It gets you thinking when you read the thoughts of someone you know, although only vaguely, and are reminded from these thoughts that the person has longings for another place. - for something that is fundamentally different, something that you would not feel at home in. Something as simple as a flag that holds so many emotions and ideals and so much history for you and yet gives no such connotations for me. That's very powerful and it reminds you of some other defining measures of distance in this geographically small world.
Anyways, before I get carried away here - this stuff's addictive - I'd better get back to my daily chores (which since my last exam have consisted of rearranging furniture, decorating the balcony, drawing/painting, listening to music and other cultivated forms of relaxation)

- I admire you for your consistency with this blog and I look forward to your next entry!

Best wishes
Nis