Learn To Eat Simply And Sustainably: Six Principles Of The Scandinavian Food Movement We Should Know About
Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word that means to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. This way of thinking and being pervades the daily lives of Scandinavians, and influences their food culture too. When Scandinavians cook, they use ingredients that are often local and in season, rooted in nature, and more often than not, grown sustainably. This Scandinavian approach to food demonstrates that ingredients don’t have to be extravagant and dishes don’t have to be complicated to be delicious and inventive.
This approach to food is the focus of the new TV show, Destination Flavour Scandinavia, airing on Metro Channel. The series explores the Nordic food revolution and how Denmark, Sweden, and Norway find their own unique ways of contributing to this movement. The show is hosted by
lawyer and MasterChef Australia winner, Adam Liaw, who travels all over Scandinavia, from the northernmost livable settlement on earth to the bustling metropolis. All throughout, he approaches this progressive food landscape with curiosity and enthusiasm.
There is much to learn from Scandinavia’s pragmatic and ethical attitude towards food, which has already spread beyond Scandinavia to influence other parts of the world. Here are six Scandinavian food principles we’re definitely inspired by and that we could all learn from:
1. Cook simply
In Denmark, Adam encounters Meik Wiking, the head of the Happiness Research Institute. Together they cook a traditional or, as Adam describes it, a “retro” dish, Stegt flæsk med persillesovs or roast pork with parsley cream sauce and potatoes. The dish is so simple and easy to make, one could memorize the preparation just by viewing the episode once. The pork comes out crisp and the sauce smooth and silky, and it’s this simple dish that is widely considered the national dish of Denmark.
Roast pork with parsley cream sauce and potatoes from Denmark
2. Choose local
The dishes featured on the show mostly use locally sourced ingredients. This isn’t only by circumstance since imports to this northern part of the world are rather expensive, but it’s also by preference. In Norway, Adam visits Longyearbyen, the northernmost livable human settlement on earth, where produce is often flown in. But at a fine dining restaurant in the town, whatever is available is often served, from cured salmon to more “exotic” dishes like whale steak and reindeer carpaccio.
Traditional houses in Longyearbyen
3. Go green and sustainable
In Sweden, Adam visits a farm where boars are allowed to roam free. This holistic way of raising livestock addresses Swedes’ preference for local, naturally raised food. A more ambitious approach to sustainability and cooking green is Chef Christian Puglisi’s Relae in Copenhagen, which is the only Michelin-starred restaurant with organic certification. After becoming a father and wanting to serve his child the most wholesome food, he decided to apply the same for his patrons. Relae even publishes a sustainability report available online, documenting everything from sourcing, environmental impact to responsible marketing. Chef Christian describes sustainability as a “responsible state of mind” and building a restaurant that’s both sustainable and organic was to “make the right decisions” not just about the future of food and agriculture but for people as well.
The kitchen at Relae (Photo from Relae Instagram account)
5. Celebrate history and heritage
In Sweden, Adam visits Meatballs for the People, a restaurant devoted entirely to Sweden’s most famous traditional dish. The meatballs range from traditional beef and pork, to wild boar and even salmon, all using ingredients sourced locally and grown organically.
Meatballs for the People
At Niklas Ekstedt’s eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant also in Sweden, no electricity is used to cook the food. Instead, he employs old Nordic cooking methods, like his stove from circa 1850 that uses fire instead of coal. The chef serves Adam a bone marrow emulsion with smoked reindeer, using local ingredients executed in an extraordinary way. Ekstedt’s restaurant is a prime example of how the Nordic food movement looks to its culinary past to create inventive and modern dishes.
Woodfire stove at Ekstedt
6. Drive social change
The Nordic food movement goes beyond using organic, sourcing local, and growing sustainable by also applying this approach to create a positive social impact. At a maximum-security prison in Denmark, inmates are enrolled in a cooking program where they learn culinary skills. In Norway, Adam travels to the Global Seed Vault that houses over 860,000 crop species in an extremely secure facility that could compete with Fort Knox. It’s fascinating how a country with very limited agriculture is the lead investor and home to an institution that ensures the protection of our food.
Host Adam Liaw inside the Global Seed Vault
Scandinavia may be a far-off region from the Philippines, but we actually share many of these same food principles. Our culinary heritage also emphasizes the use of local ingredients which is what makes our dishes so special—the distinct tartness of calamansi, the savory saltiness of bagoong, the candy-like sweetness of our mangoes. Our food is a direct link to our culture and our past, with dishes such as adobo, kare-kare, sinigang, pancit, that have evolved from and been influenced by early settlers and foreign colonizers.
There is also a growing organic and sustainability movement in the Philippines. Now we see organic sections in the grocery stores, weekend farmer’s markets, and more local brands that tout their organic labels. A perfect example would be the cacao industry in Mindanao that not only capitalizes on the unique breed of cacao grown there, but also gives back to the local cacao farmers.
Destination Flavour Scandinavia may feature a land faraway from our own, but it does inspire us to reflect on our own food culture, history, and values, and to imbibe hygge—how to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
For those who want to experience hygge up close and personal, watch out for Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s Crayfish Party happening on September 8, 2018. This traditional Swedish summer feast will feature fresh crayfish, beer, plus lots of other Scandinavian delicacies.
Destination Flavour Scandinavia replays air Tuesdays at 3 am, 8:30 am, 4 pm, 10 pm; Thursdays at 11 am; and Saturdays at 5 am, 11:30 am and 10 pm on Metro Channel, Channels 52 and 174 (HD) on SkyCable.
Photos courtesy of Destination Flavour Scandinavia