Sunday, June 17, 2007

Proving Wessel wrong - sandwiches at Wesselstuen, Bergen

........that is all I know at present, on Sandwiches and Love

"At smørrebrød er ikke mad, og kærlighed er ikke had, det er for tiden alt jeg ved, om smørrebrød og kærlighed"
(That sandwiches is not food, and love is not hate, that is all I know at present, on sandwiches and love")

Johan Herman Wessel (1742-1785)

The poet Johan Herman Wessel produced this late 18th century verse on the Sandwiches he probably enjoyed with his beer through his short and bohemian life in Copenhagen. In Bergen they have named a nice, traditional restaurant after him - Wesselstuen. Traditional, in almost a 18th century sense of the word, as you feel you enter a Danish "kro" or restaurant from that time.

In fact I loved Wesselstuen so much I went their twice, for lunch. Just to prove Johan Herman Wessel wrong, I ordered what he did not consider food, i.e. open sandwiches.

As some of you may have discovered, I have strong passions for this Scandinavian culinary tradition, particularly the Danish smørrebrød, that excel the Norwegian smørbrød or Swedish smörgås. My happiest moments are when I may sit down with a large Sandwich with an abundance of shrimps or liver-paté, and drink a freezing cold beer and an akevitt.

Thursday, May 31st. Entered Wesselstuen for the first time. Liked it. Ordered a traditional fried plaice sandwich. Discovered to my greatest satisfaction that I could not see the slice of bread underneath it. Wesselstuen has really understood rule number 1 on how prepare it the Danish way. Rule number 2 - the plaice is hot and and with crispy crust. Chrunch! Yum! Rule number 3 - "pillede friske rejer" (peeled, fresh shrimps). Very much so, and with one warm asparagus and a large portion of remoulade or tartar sauce. Bullseye! This is how a plaice sandwich is supposed to taste!!

Saturday, June 2nd. Back with my nephew Knut. Ordered a warm liver-paté sandwich with crispy bacon and fried mushrooms.

This is a Danish classic, and will be on my plate every time I visit Denmark, and at Wesselstuen I got that reassuring Danish feeling. Well, you could see the slice of bread all right, and serving it on rye bread may have been the correct way. But there was a generous amount of paté on slices of crispy bacon, served with tomatoes and pickled cucumber.


So - Johan Herman - if you had eaten these sandwiches, you may have had to reconsider the proclaimed truth - Sandwiches are food, whereas I agree with you that Love is not Hate, or......?

And, Wessel, you will get the latest word with one of your verses:

"Du lille vakre Karen Bach
For hvert et mødigt Sting du stak
Paa mig en høist nødvendig Frak
Som sprak, Tak!

PS Lyksaligt Nyt Aar"

(Little, beautiful Karen Bach
For each stitch you made
on one for me a very useful coat
that bursted - Thank you!

PS Happy New Year!!)

Øvre Ole Bulls pl 6
Phone: 55 55 49 49
Fax: 55 55 49 50

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