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Inside Denmark: Danes 'lose their Viking card' over spicy noodles and who cares about Folkemøde?

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Inside Denmark: Danes 'lose their Viking card' over spicy noodles and who cares about Folkemøde?
Folkemøde: an event the Danish political class looks forward to. Photo: Thomas Traasdahl/Ritzau Scanpix

From the national football team's tailors to blowback over banned South Korean noodles and what's going on at Folkemøde, the weekly column Inside Denmark takes a look at what we've been talking about in Denmark this week.

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Inside Denmark is our weekly look at some of the news, talking points and gossip in Denmark that you might not have heard about. It’s published each Saturday and members can receive it earlier in their inbox by going to their newsletter preferences or adding their email to the sign-up box in this article.

Folkemødet: Why is it such a big deal?

You may have heard of Folkemødet, the big event taking place over on the island of Bornholm this week. The annual politics festival is attending by all Danish MPs, other politicians, party members, youth parties, media, activists and many more.

Somehow (this year is no exception), reports from the event always seem to show decision-makers having a blast at sun-dappled debates and gatherings, while the rest of Denmark slogs its way through lacklustre June rain.

What makes this event such a big deal? Or is it really just an overhyped jolly for the elite?

It’s closely tied up with things considered central to Danish culture: singing in chorus, debate and consensus, and being outside in summer while you can. All events must be open to everyone according to Folkemødet rules.

In addition to this, it makes Danish politicians seem a lot more accessible as they wander around the host town of Allinge and mix with other guests, although this aspect now feels a bit under threat given the recent assault in Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: Danish PM Frederiksen 'still not feeling great' after assault in Copenhagen

Before the festival began, organisers were criticised by politicians because they said any protestors at Folkemødet should simply be invited to join in the debate. Not a wise suggestion in the current climate, you could be forgiven for thinking.

As someone who follows Danish politics, perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of Folkemødet is the more honest and open side the event seems to bring out in politicians. That sometimes brings out insights or admissions you might not usually be privy to.

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For example, Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen hinted yesterday that the cracks in the coalition government might be more than just surface-deep.

Rasmussen, the leader of the Moderate party and former PM, said yesterday that he had not cleared comments made on EU election night with the other party leaders in the coalition.

At the time, Rasmussen appeared to admit to difficulties in the coalition by saying “we need to sharpen our appetite for change”.

Even though he hadn’t warned his counterparts, PM Mette Frederiksen and Liberal leader Troels Lund Poulsen, he said he “thinks this is an analysis we all share”.

Meanwhile the leader of the Liberal Alliance party Alex Vanopslagh, who was collared by broadcaster DR while walking about, said his party would “evaluate and change course” after it was panned by its own youth wing over the way a senior male candidate spoke about women during the EU election campaign.

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READ ALSO: 'Embarrassing': Denmark’s Liberal Alliance party slammed by own youth leader

Vanopslagh, who had previously kept out of the crossfire, said “We will evaluate and adjust our course.”

“If there happens to be a general misunderstanding of what Liberal Alliance's views are about what all people, regardless of gender, are capable of achieving in their lives, then we have not communicated well enough,” the right-wing party leader said.

‘Used car salesmen’: National football team mocked over matching suits

The Euro 2024 football championships start this evening, with Denmark’s campaign starting in Stuttgart at 6pm on Sunday, when they face Slovenia.

But the red and whites have already begun the tournament looking a bit off-colour, if their fashion choices are anything to go by.

Before leaving for Germany this week, the squad was presented to fans at Copenhagen attraction Tivoli wearing matching grey suits reminiscent of their lifeless displays at the last World Cup, where they didn’t win a match.

“These boys follow fashion more than you think and that’s why you could see how uncomfortable some of the looked in the suits,” stylist and fashion expert Mads Emil Grove Møller told broadcaster TV2.

Social Media commenters were less understanding, with descriptions ranging from “used car salesmen on tour” and “very 2003” to “Copenhagen Business School excursion”.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by SHAPING NEW TOMORROW® (@shapingnewtomorrow)

The suits were provided as part of a sponsorship deal between the Danish football association DBU and clothing company Shaping New Tomorrow.

Danes butt of noodles jokes after banning spicy ramen

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Earlier this week, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration recalled and then banned three South Korean instant ramen products, warning noodle lovers that they were so hot they might cause "acute poisoning".

The news was reported across the world by the likes of the BBC, CNN and New York Times, as well as South Korea’s own English-language publication The Korea Times.

It was also not missed by social media, not least on Reddit where users of the Korea subreddit had some choice observations about Danes and their ability to tolerate spicy food.

“I had a friend from Denmark who thought tasteless breaded shrimp with a little bit of ground pepper on it was too spicy. Not surprised they think this ramen is poison,” one said.

“They lost their Viking card,” another said.

Danes also got involved in the discussion.

“I'm Danish, and it's true that many of us don't eat spicy food. On the other hand, no one comes near us when it comes to eating liquorice,” one posted.

“As a Dane, I do not get this. I love spicy food, including the food item in question,” said another.

The decision by the Danish food agency is based on a report by the Technical University of Denmark on the levels of capsaicin, the active component of chilli peppers, as broadcaster DR writes.

Danish importers of the products have meanwhile criticised the decision, saying it is based on “an assumption of how strong they are”.

Meanwhile in Sweden, where you can still acquire the contraband ramen, TV presenters are putting themselves through the ring trying the spicy effects for themselves.

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