Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pastry Radar

"Is it talking about the kings yet?" Danny wants to know.

No kings yet. It's talking about what was going on ~the year 1500. The starting point of this book. Denmark and its Baltic neighbors supplying most of the food and raw materials for the rest of Europe. A strategic role, but not without dangers. At that time Denmark's role was similar to say, that of north Africa or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait today. Other countries wanted access to what came out of Denmark.

One of those things was wheat. The English and Dutch loaded up their ships with it, and thus did not starve.

Danny says "Wheat... that must be how they came up with the Danish pastries!" In the entire world, there is no one with better Pastry Radar. No one.

Denmark is a surprisingly big country, with many clues that it was bigger long ago. The wind blows out of the south; you don't need a book to figure that out. A couple of days on a bike will do it. But that's a story for another day.

We had not been in Denmark for 30 minutes before Danny honed in on a bakery. By smell or something, I don't know. We had been on a ferry all night and were waking up on the bikes. Riding on the main street of a town, the name of which we could not even pronounce. On the left, an ATM machine serving Danish krone. On the right, pastries on display. In small Danish towns exactly one kind of place is open on Sunday morning...the right kind of place!

Danny leaped off his bike, leaving me to do the parking. Came out with half a loaf of something that smelled of cinnamon and some other mysterious spice. All swirls and apple and buttery dough.

Clearly this operation had been in the works for some time. For months we'd been planning, buying tickets, studying maps, riding through Norway. I'd completely missed a key aspect of the trip... that danishes can be had in Denmark. Danish, Denmark. Those two words don't even sound like each other!

Luckily we did not know that Danish pastries came from somewhere else. That might have triggered a discussion.

Instead, whatever its name we buried our faces in it. There was reverence. No talking for a while.

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