Danish Thanksgiving

This year was my first Thanksgiving as the solo project manager! It’s one of the few very “American” traditions that I am really fond of, so I wanted to do it well, but the thought of tackling an enormous dead bird and all of the other side dishes and accessories was quite daunting. Not to mention I’ve been pretty sick this past week. So of course, I planned ahead and made a bunch of lists! And with a few emails back and forth with mom, I set out on Thursday morning all fresh with holiday spirit and whatnot. And thankfully, the sun decided to shine the whole day.

The first thing was the turkey. Around this time in the US, literally every single grocery store is stocked with a seemingly infinite supply of these hapless birds. But of course, in Denmark, it’s a little more difficult. I did manage to find a nice turkey at a gorgeous market called Torvehallerne—a bit expensive of course, but that’s just how Scandinavia rolls.

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Boom. After picking up a round of brie cheese, I jumped back on the metro armed with my 8 lb dead bird (and I have never felt more like Patrick Bateman.)

I really didn’t have much clue of what I was doing when I roasted the turkey, and plus I didn’t have a lot of random things like metal skewers or string to make it look all nice. Soooo I’m just not going to post a picture 🙂 But let’s just say that it ended up okay.

I kept the rest of the menu really minimalistic, but there were a few things I could not cut because WHAT is Thanksgiving without stuffing?!?!? I decided to make mine from scratch. And the cranberry sauce too!

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Something I decided to try this year was making baked brie with apple compote. A bit unconventional for Thanksgiving, but it just sounded so good. And I think it turned out ridiculously well.

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And of course, it was necessary to have the most classy napkins in existence:

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Very hygge. While it was a bit unconventional, I think my Danish Thanksgiving was much more of a success than I expected.

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Everyone’s Favorite Things: Politics and Weather

The local elections in Copenhagen are coming up soon, so you literally cannot stand within any given 10ft^3 volume in the city without being inundated by a smorgasbord of different posters featuring rather attractive Danes and their campaign slogans. Learning about Danish politics from my friends has been incredibly interesting, and has changed a lot of the way I look at politics in the US. I’ve mentioned in a previous post a bit about it.

From The Copenhagen Post

The issues on the table are fascinating. Some may seem more minor, like whether the government should accommodate cars or bicycles more (definitely something that would never even be a question in California). Others are cultural, like the degree of immigrant integration into Danish culture. And then you have the standard questions of higher or lower taxes, job creation, legalizing pot, etc.

Copenhagen is most definitely not bipartisan. Almost all of the parties are more liberal than the American left, and the party names can get quite confusing: “Konservative,” “Liberal Alliance” (actually leans center-right, comparatively), “Radikale Venstre” which means “The Radical Left” (actually falls more in the middle), “Socialdemokraterne,” “Socialistisk Folkeparti” which is “The Socialist People’s Party,” and “Enhedslisten” which was formed out of a merger of socialist and communist parties. And those aren’t even all of them. There’s even a small communist party, “Kommunisterne,” something that would be so unheard of in the US. I’m quite lucky to be good friends with several politically-minded Danes, and we’ve had long conversations about all of this.

So in case all of this talk of politics is causing any tension or inducing any naps, we’ll now switch to a much more docile topic: Danish weather!

I think I was more or less prepared for the cold (and it’s only going to get worse!), but what I did not know is that Denmark is actually the Dementor-land of soul-crushing darkness! Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but seriously dude, the sun rises around 8 and begins to set around 16.30 (4:30pm). Soul. Crushing. And this is why the Danes have invented the concept of hygge!

Regardless, it’s still beautiful 🙂

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And it’s not always cloudy; on the rare sunny days you literally run outside screaming with Vitamin D overdose and all the world seems bright again.

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A Life Update Part 1: The External

There are a lot of exchange students who use every free day of the week for traveling, each time to some new country across Europe, each time returning a little hungover and a little more broke. And please, don’t get me wrong, I love and encourage travel, but every weekend?

Again, I love travel and exploration, but on an average day, I like using my time to get to know where I live: discovering cool coffee shops to frequent or finding the grocery stores with the best prices, or making friendships with the Danes. Regardless, when the other students come back from their excursions, they always have infinite exciting stories to tell about how lost they got in Paris, or how good the chocolate and beer were in Germany.

And sometimes I feel a bit lame in comparison. My posting on this blog has become exponentially more sucky in frequency, and I apologize to anyone (probably just my mom) who has been waiting for all of my new exciting stories. In the first couple months of moving here, everything was new and novel, and thus I had blog material overflowing out of my brain. But I guess the reality of living in a different place is that (again, as tautological as it sounds) you live there. It’s not just a vacation. My average interactions with the universe are just that: average. I go to the store, I go to class, I read, I get stuck behind slow people on bikes, and I believe strongly in Taco Tuesdays.

So while it might mean less blog posts, I kind of like settling down into this daily Danish life thing.

24 Hours in Edinburgh

A few weeks ago I made a short (and cheap!) trip to Edinburgh. I can’t really explain why I wanted to go there specifically; something about the castles and weather and paying homage to J.K. Rowling appealed to me. What little time I did have there was lovely, but since I’m not a person to be rushed, I didn’t get to see that much of the city.

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View from Copenhagen Airport before the flight

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ATMOSPHERES

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Breakfast! They call breakfast paninis “toasties” hehe.

I am an enormous fan of writing and/or working in coffee shops and cafes. So naturally, I had to visit one of the cafes that the literary badass J.K. Rowling frequented, where she wrote much of the first Harry Potter (as a single mom living on welfare).

 

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It’s called The Elephant House. It was made especially cozy by the view of Edinburgh Castle from the window, and the ominous gray clouds outside. And since I have you here and we’re talking about J.K. Rowling, I’ll just slip in this tangential-but-beautiful little excerpt from her 2008 Harvard commencement address:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

ANYWAY BACK ON TRACK

Here are some nice pictures of the city:

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As you can see… there is incredible architecture in Edinburgh. Cathedrals and castles are literally around every corner. I think that’s the thing I found most unique: this synthesis of the past and the pending in the interface between lumpy weathered cobblestone streets, and modern hipster coffee shops.

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and proof that I was really there

24 hours definitely wasn’t enough—Edinburgh is still largely a mystery to me.