This was one of my favorite cross-cultural confusions while in Denmark.  One morning, while rushing to get out of the apartment for some not typical sightseeing in the Danish countryside, I asked my friend if we might have a little breakfast.  What do you usually have for breakfast, I asked.  He replied that he generally had a filling, but pretty boring breakfast cereal with milk.  We went into the kitchen and poured the cereal into our bowls.  It was called Havregryn. My friend didn’t really know the English name for Havre Gryn.

We set about eating the flat grain-like cereal, cold.  It looked very much like oatmeal to me.  But, again, he didn’t know.  I said, you know I think this is oatmeal.  And, in America, we usually cook it.

COOK IT??!?!

He said with horror in his voice and on his face!

Later that week, I told the story to his sister who had set out this incredible breakfast spread of Danish delights: cheeses, salami, quick breads, dark breads, sweet butter, cornflakes and, yes, Havregryn!  You know, I said, in America, we call this oatmeal.  And, we cook it.

COOK IT!?!?!

She screwed up her face and gasped.  Oh goodness no.  Well, she allowed, maybe when the children were little.  Like porridge.  I think the disgust for these two Danish adults was the concept that eating cooked Havregryn was a little like eating baby food.

Viva la difference.  Or, however they say that in Danish.

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