Anything called a cloudberry just begs to be tasted, doesn’t it? Norway serves them up with whipped cream, mmmm, but let’s begin at the beginning. Breakfast might be porridge made from natural sour cream, served with butter, sugar and cinnamon, or you might have salmon with your eggs. Salmon in many guises will grace your table, whether it’s fresh, dry-cured, marinated or fermented. The famous lutefisk is dried fish softened in water and lye, then cooked and served with potatoes, bacon, mushy peas and mustard; once a Christmas dish its popularity is prolonging its season. Lamb ribs smoked over birch wood or simmered with cabbage and peppercorns will stave off hunger on a cold day. Be sure to sample brunost – that’s the brown cheese with a sweet, yet somewhat sharp flavour with notes of caramel.
Denmark is blessed with happy cows who produce a prodigious amount of soft cheeses such as
Havarti, sometimes plain, sometimes flecked with dill and heaven in your ham sandwich. Traditional regional specialties that reflect foods available in days gone by are worth seeking. Try egg rolls from Limfjorden, omelets Funen style and cabbage sausage in Southern Jutland. One of the finer dishes in the small fishing community of Skagen consists of pan-fried plaice with a mixture of cranberries, cowberries or gooseberries; when it’s hard to grow vegetables, berries become your “greens”. Onion-stuffed eel rolls from Limfjorden, or sparerib stew made with porter and aged for three days, spicy pickled eggs, or a thick, tasty Ærø island pancake with honey and mashed apples. In Copenhagen, fuel your sightseeing with smørrebrød, the city’s famous open-face sandwich that comes with any number of savory toppings.
Germany is a big country so expect and seek out your favorite regional variations, of which there are scores. For the carnivore, explore the endless array of beef and pork sausages and delicious specialties like Black Forest ham or heath land sheep. You're equally spoilt for choice when it comes to fish; sprats, herring and shrimps, eel, pike-perch, carp, trout or whitefish depending on your proximity to sea or freshwater. You’ll have potatoes prepared every way imaginable and unbelievably satisfying breads. Pay homage to delicate white asparagus on the Baden Asparagus Route and swim in ruby red fruit soups, preserves, pastries, and sauces made with the luscious German fruits and berries. To leave without tasting Black Forest cake at the source is a waste.
Holland is a dangerously wonderful place for little bites between meals. Fritjes (French fries in some countries) are an extremely popular pick-me-up; whether these potato sticks are better here or in Belgium is entirely up to the frite-ee. In the fall when the herring comes in, toss your head back and slither a tasty fish down your own gullet; you’ll get the knack and be glad you did. Keep your coffee steaming with a stroopwafel, a layer of caramel joining two waffle-ish cookies,specifically designed to sit atop your hot coffee to soften up. Heaven. For spicier fare, get really hungry and then tuck in to a rijstafel, a gift from Indonesian colonial days and as sumptuous an array of exotic flavors as you could want. We also suggest a serious survey of apple cake in Holland, expertly baked, easily devoured.
Eating in Belgium is one of almost every visitor’s favorite things to do here; the aroma of malty waffles wafts over every market and many a street corner, enticing you to ruin your appetite for your next meal. And what a meal it might be, mussels a million ways, eel in green sauce, caramelized onions slathered over a joint of ham or carbonnade, the beef stew redolent with Belgian beer. These are some of the classic dishes, but you’ll fine amazingly innovative cooking as well at city restaurants and in lovely countryside settings. One other way you should definitely endanger your dinner plans: survey the dozen sauces at the frites stand and open up your snack life to a wider world.