My first meal in Denmark was Oksekødsuppe — “beef soup” — which the locals tell me is a typical Danish meal.

After a planes trains and automobiles type of voyage, I arrive at the home (and church) of my friend, the priest. He is celebrating his 50th with family and 130 of his best friends. He lives in Nykøbing Falster. This small Danish town is not called nigh-oh-bing fall-stir. It sounds more like New-kuhrbin fahstahr. To my ear, the Danish language sounds, well, like mumbling. I mean no offense. I love this country and its people.

I arrived in Denmark exhausted/jet-lagged and frankly a little traumatized after my train ride from the C’hagen Airport. I had an “open” ticket rather than a reserved seat. After getting bumped by German families, old ladies and a Turkish traveler because (by hand motions alone I realized) I was sitting in their seats, I gave up and stood for the 90-minute ride.

There was one disconcerting moment on the train when I tried to buy a bottle of water. The vendor told me she couldn’t make change for my 50 kroner bill. I was so frustrated — and, yes, angry at that point, I snarled, you mean you have NO MONEY. She jangled an envelope of euro coins and said “yes, I have euros. This is a GERMAN train.” Oh great!!!! I’m on the wrong flipping’ train. That once happened to me. Years ago, I found myself sitting on a train in Denmark, taking in the green pastures, when I realized I was the only person in the car. The conductor explained I had missed my stop. I was going the wrong direction. So — fade to black/fade up — here I am in 2013 with my 50 Kroner unchangeable bill on a German train. I was admittedly a little. Freaked! Out! But I made it. Just in time for a shower and soup.

My friend’s home was filled with the delicious smell of the Oksekødsuppe. What’s that, I asked — it smells downright celestial. Seemed the proper thing to say to a priest.

When the soup came to the table, it was this delightfully delicious melange of beef broth and leeks, carrots, little cubes of something called pastinakker (pretty sure it was parsnip, although before cubed — it was immense). Then kødboller: tiny little meatballs (likely veal) and melboller — small oblongs of dough the size and shape of garlic cloves — which I mistook them to be. Of course, the meal was preceded by the commensurate gin & tonic (there WERE some English priests in attendance after all).

All to the tune of the conversation most animated and entertaining to watch. I could understand the visiting Brits of course – but the Danes. Well, that’s another matter. I understood not a whit but they seemed to be a happy family by the look of it.

All in all — it was a comforting and reassuring way to begin this adventure.

Velbekomme!

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