When you start your day off with breakfast – somehow life looks rosy. First meal, new day, breaking of the fast.

I may love breakfast more than any meal.

Though I would not eat grilled octopus in the morning. Unless I was in Tokyo. Do they eat cephalopods for breakfast in Japan?

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Whenever I go on vacay, it is my sincere intention to eat healthfully while still enjoying the food of the town and county I’m in. Certainly that is/was my plan for my visit to Denmark.

This is a country where some 60+% of the land is dedicated to farming. Now, I admit I haven’t seen a lot of cows — but I have certainly seen cheese. Sometimes at lunch, always at breakfast accompanied by crusty, yeasty, mouth-celebratory (is that even a word?) bread. Blue, aged, smoked. All kinds, though there seems to be a inclination towards a semi-soft cheese called Danbo. It comes in many forms. Cuts beautifully. And makes a kick-ass sandwich, typically served open-faced.

When I made my first cheese sandwich here, I was given specific instructions: slice the roll in two horizontally. Spread a little mustard and/or butter, slice the cheese thinly usually with one of those wired kitchen tools made specifically for the task (a common kitchen tool here — in the USA we tend to have them around for cheese and cracker time). Maybe some slice of tomato. Eat. And enjoy. I once tried to make a traditional American “sang-wich” and have to admit felt a little barbarian trying to get my mouth around the bun and the filling. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not totally stranger in a strange land on this front. Of course, they make and eat sandwiches like we do. Just not so much.

Perhaps this is why even though they are presented with this foodstuff on a regular basis, the Danes are not a fat people. They eat naturally in moderation. And, as in many places around the world, bicycle everywhere.

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Just as I was about to accuse the Danes of eating only cheese in their sandwiches (which of course I knew was wrong thinking from this country of the fabulous smørbørd) — I am treated to an afternoon picnic by the sister and brother-in-law of my friend, the priest.

They thought it would be fun to take me on a little countryside excursion into the woods outside Odense (home of Hans Christian Andersen). The woods here, by the way, remind me of what I imagine the woods are like in Hamlet. Spindly medium-tall trees — I think they’re beech — one after the other after the other. Crowded together. If you were to gallop a horse through this fragile forest, you would be brushed by the branches, yet not thrown off.

We were in Hesbjerg Skov — it appeared to be some sort of hippie commune, though not retro in any sense. Apparently some 45 people, not counting children, are living off the land in this area. My hosts say the citizens are the type to commune with nature, but drive into town to work. At real jobs. I guess holes in the ground for toilets and shared dinners in a hall of sorts are not too high a price to pay for This Simple Life. They certainly looked just fine, thank you, to me.

We parked our car and walked for awhile until we found a pile of cut wood to fashion into seats and a table for our picnic. It was lovely. The hostess had gotten up early to make crusty fresh rolls (they were still warm) of graham flour. And, for the filling she made flattened meatballs of pork, called (and I LOVE this word) frikadeller. Pretty much pronounced like they’re spelled. Later, I called them “flubber masters” or “freakin’ blasters”.

De. Lish. Us. Pronounced like it’s spelled!

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Ama Roma appears to be the new saying for la Bella città. Love Rome. And, really, how could you not.

At this morning’s breakfast ritual, with my cappuccino (pronounced copp-ew-CHEEN-oh) I picked a pastry larger than my hand. Hell, larger than that graphic hand on the side of the Roman city truck.

I loved that pastry. I’m glad I chose it (although at that size, it probably chose me). I should never be allowed to order it again.

It was the flakiest kind of pastry, covered all over with the lightest of sugar glazes, filled with just enough — abbastanza— cream. Sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar. Then, placed into the case for this hapless traveller. I didn’t see any locals in that coffee bar eating the hand-sized pastry with their copp-ew-CHEEN-oh.

I asked what it was called. I heard pasta and alla Romana. I think I’ve read about this legendary pastry, typical, only in Rome. As I walked out, I did see more pastries that looked like it. Just smaller. Hmmmm….

Maybe we just need to think of everyday eating the way we do vacation eating.  Or, maybe it is more about mindfulness.  I don’t know.  It is just that when I’m on vacay I consider all the wonders of what I eat.  Indulgences allowed, of course. 

Here I am in Portland, Oregon – the land of filberts, salmon and Pinot Noir.  Real farm to table stuff (though it makes Portlanders crazy when the Times writes about Portland cuisine).

It’s Sunday morning, a few hours before brunch time and we found ourselves at the Bijou, Cafe.   Yep, the comma is NOT a typo.  I am not sure what conceit is behind the punctuation but here it seems almost quaint.

Consider the menu board: spiced lamb hash with pear muffin on the side. Yum! Apple compote on oatmeal with whipped cream.  Double yum!! I decided on chantarelle (are they local? I ask.  Oh yeah, she says, a guy comes to the kitchen with a bucket of them!”) omelette.  With a side order of grilled cinnamon bread!

A little piece of heaven, I tell you.  I guess you really don’t need un caffe’ and un cornetto to make a meal a delight.

I am writing this from what was probably some ancient Roman’s villa, but is now a park above the noisy traffic of Italian sirens, automobiles and Vespas.

Just pondering the beauty of breakfast in a bar (that means caffé here) in Roma.  Simple but squisito — delicious.  Un caffé (that means espresso here : ) and un cornetto.  Cornetto covers all manner of breakfast pastries.  From luscious cream-filled to simple croissant.  I would never have coffee and a pastry at home.  And not only because I’m on vacation do I eat like this (granted, walking helps).  I just have to say it (and maybe only this once) “when in Rome…”