To combat loneliness, Danes and expats share a meal

Danes and expats alike are invited to break their solitude and enjoy a nice meal together.

To combat loneliness, Danes and expats share a meal
Danes and expats are invited to share a meal together. Photo: Kødbyens Mad og Marked

Looking for weekend plans? Want to meet new people? On Sunday, head to Kødbyens Mad & Marked to enjoy a meal with fellow expats and friendly Danes as part of a nationwide effort to combat loneliness and solitude. 

Dubbed 'The World Eats Together', Sunday's event is an extension of the 'Denmark Eats Together' (Danmark Spiser Sammen) campaign, a series of communal meals meant to bring people together in light of a recent poll that showed nearly one in four people in Denmark eats alone. 

Organized by the Movement Against Solitude (Folkebevægelsen mod Ensomhed), the eating events are seen as a helpful tool in combating loneliness.

Stine Aagaard, communications coordinator for Kødbyens Mad og Marked, says solitude is a real problem both for Danes and those in the international community who have had a hard time making friends in their new home.

“In Denmark a lot of people feel lonely. We thought the expat angle would be interesting because of the many expats who work in Denmark but don't necessarily meet up with each other or with Danish people,” she told The Local. 

The Nationwide Movement Against Solitude organizes not only this event, but also a range of other events, all with the same goal.

“Hopefully expats will show up and meet each other at the market. It’s our mission to gather both Danish people and expats because we believe that it’s always a strength to meet new people and new cultures,” said Aagaard. 

The event is being hosted at Kødbyens Mad og Marked. Photo: Kødbyens Mad og Marked

If that's not enough to draw internationals out to the trendy Kødbyen district on Sunday, attendees can expect to find plenty of stalls offering expat-only special offers on drinks and food, with prices ranging from 100-150 kroner for a meal.

This is the first time an expat-specifc communal eating event has been planned and organizers expect between 100 and 200 guests, although a Facebook page for the event has over 750 people marked as “interested”.

“Bottom line we also hope that expats will enjoy the market, have a great food experience and maybe visit a place in Copenhagen they don’t visit that often,” said Aagaard.

So be sure to mark your calendar, ‘The World Eats Together’ runs from 10am until 6pm on Sunday at Flæsketorvet in Copenhagen's Kødbyen district.

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Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

From Danbo to Danablu and the Danish feta that can't be called feta - Denmark produces over four hundred thousand tonnes of cheese each year and exports it across the world. So why is Danish cheese so popular, and what are the country's best-loved cheeses?

Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

Cheese-making is a serious business in Denmark. In 2021, the country produced a total of 454,500 tonnes of cheese and Danish cheese has won awards at the World Championship Cheese Contest.

The tradition goes back to the Viking era and today, the country’s climate and pastoral land make it ideal for producing cheese (ost). About three quarters of the country’s milk production is turned into cheese, butter and milk powder.

Not only is cheese popular in Denmark, where it’s eaten with pretty much any meal and snack (can you even have a bolle [bread roll] without ost?), it is also eaten around the world in countries including South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Nigeria and even France.

In 2021, Denmark exported a total of 401,845 tonnes of cheese, making it one of the top cheese exporters in the world. The biggest importer of Danish cheese was Germany (94,419 tonnes), followed by Sweden (52.924 tonnes) and the UK (42,905 tonnes). 18,097 tonnes of cheese was exported to Japan and 5,657 to the United States.

What types of cheese does Denmark make?

The different types of cheese in Denmark can be hard to distinguish and there are a lot of them. You can quite easily end up with a fridge full of strong smells that you weren’t expecting. 

Danbo, often called ‘Denmark’s national cheese’, is the most produced and consumed cheese in Denmark. It has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, meaning it can only be made in Denmark to specific Danish standards.

Danbo is sold under various trade and brand names, including LillebrorGamle Ole, and Riberhus. Lillebror (meaning Little brother) is very mild and often sold in childrens’ packs, whereas Gamle Ole (meaning Old Ole) is matured for a long time, which means it’s strong and smelly. Caraway seeds are sometimes added to this cheese.

Esrom also has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status and is made from pasteurised cow’s milk. It is semi-soft with small holes and is pretty pungent.

Havarti is one of the most famous Danish cheeses. It’s a bit like a cheddar in that the taste can be mild, but the longer the cheese is stored, the stronger it gets. 

Danablu is a Danish Blue soft blue cheese, similar to Roquefort. It has a strong aroma and a sharp and a little salty taste. Danablu is often used in America to make blue cheese dressing for salads and blue cheese dip for chicken wings. 

A dairy farm in Klemensker, Bornholm has twice been named world champion in cheese making. Photo: Morten Juhl/Ritzau Scanpix

Mycella is a veined blue cheese made from pasteurised cow’s milk on the island of Bornholm and is similar to Gorgonzola. It goes well in a salad or cheese platter or even crumbled on top of an open sandwich.

Blå kornblomst, meaning ‘blue cornflower’, is a creamy blue cheese with a mild, slightly salty taste. The cheese is white to yellowish with blue tinges and is made from pasteurised cow’s milk on North Jutland.

Danish rygeost, meaning ‘smoked cheese’ is mild, light and smokey. It originates from 19th century Funen, with some believing it dates back to the Viking Age. 

A dish of potato, monkfish and smoked cheese.

A dish of potato, monkfish and smoked cheese. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

Vesterhavsost, meaning ‘North Sea Cheese’, is a semi-hard cheese with a slightly salty taste as it is ripened in the sea air of North Jutland. It’s referred to as the Danish version of Gouda. 

Fyrmester or Fyrtårnsost, meaning ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ or ‘Lighthouse Cheese’, is an extra-mature version of the vesterhavsost, aged for at least 52 weeks.

Samsø cheese is similar to Emmentale and made on the island of Samsø in Kattegat.

Hvid ost, meaning ‘white cheese’, is Denmark’s equivalent to feta cheese but uses cow’s milk rather than the goat or sheep’s milk used in Greek feta cheese. It’s milder and doesn’t crumble like Greek feta cheese because it’s made differently, using something called ultrafiltration.

There have been debates as to whether this actually makes it feta cheese. Earlier this year, Denmark lost a case at the European Court of Justice over its farmers exporting cheese outside the EU labelled feta, something only Greece can do. The cheese is sometimes labelled in supermarkets as ‘salad cubes’ (salat-tern).

There is, perhaps, one thing that unites almost all Danish cheeses: they are sliced using the characteristic ostehøvl (cheese slicer), the quintessential Danish kitchen utensil.

There are two types of ostehøvl: a wire-based type and a version that looks a bit like a trowel, with a raised edge and a gap in the middle for the sliced cheese to pass through.

Cheese vocab:

Blød ost: Soft cheese

Halvfast ost: Semi-soft cheese 

Fast ost: Semi-hard cheese 

Hård ost: Hard cheese

Ekstra hård ost: Extra hard cheese

Frisk ost: Fresh cheese

Ostehøvl: cheese slicer