The little Mermaid
The first day after arriving in Copenhagen, I decided to do some sightseeing. I walked for hours and ended at the Little Mermaid in the harbor. I was expecting a huge statue, but there she was. A little bitty statue of a mermaid sitting on a rock just a few feet from land. A few other tourists were standing around. It was easy to see that they were also disappointed in her size. An Australian bloke stood next to me, arms crossed, shaking his head, “I expected her to be bigger,” he said as he turned towards me and continued “didn’t you?”
“Yes, yes,” I managed to stammer. The Australian said his name was Andy and wanted to know if I would walk with him for a while. Me, goodie-two-shoes, so cautious and jumpy that just making eye contact with a man on the street in a foreign country was a source of anxiety. Every time a man hit on me, I would feign deafness. Now I was faced with a critical decision of walking with a man I didn’t know.
When we reached the famous Nyhavn, a canal lined with townhouses from the 18th century, bars, and restaurants, Andy said “Let’s get something to eat. I haven’t eaten since breakfast.” Andy grabbed my arm and pulled me over to a four-story house with a plaque on it.
Digteren H.C. Andersen Boede Her 1845-1864
”The poet, Hans Christian Andersen lived here from 1845 to 1864,” Andy said as we crossed the street to the other side.
“I didn’t know that you could read Danish.”
“It says in my Lonely Planet Gruide book and that King Christian the Fourth built this canal in 1670. It is a gateway from the sea to the old inner city where ships trade cargo and fishermen’s catch. Many of the houses date back to that time and the oldest house still standing was built in 1681.” (see the top of the page)
“Well, I can see that. All the buildings seem to be falling apart.” I looked up at the houses that were crooked and appeared to be leaning on each other. If they removed a building or two, they would all fall. Others were sinking into the ground, and their windows were crooked. Some buildings were blue, while others were yellow or red.
Andy motioned for me to follow him and after climbing a few steps, we entered an old house with wooden floors. There were round wooden tables with rickety, wobbly chairs placed around the tables and not much else.
“This area is notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitutes,” Andy said as he was still reading from his book.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be here,” I said as I nervously looked around the room. There were mostly men and the few women in the place, and they were undoubtedly prostitutes judging by the way they dressed.
I glanced around the room and saw two men eating what looked like an egg omelet with slices of pork on top.
“That looks good,” I said as I nodded in the direction of the two men eating…. I didn’t dare point at the men; I might have started a fight. A man with a crooked nose that made him look more like a boxer than a waiter took our order. My first meal in Copenhagen. Just as we finished our dinner, a fight broke out. I grabbed Andy’s arm and whispered with panic in my voice “What should we do?” Andy laughed and stood up, dragging me with him. “Let’s get out of here.” We headed for the door and after glancing over our shoulders to see if our waiter was following us before leaving. Not to worry, he was in the middle of the fight. We run down the steps and halfway down the street before stopping, laughing and gasping for air.
Omelet with Fried Pork (Æggekage med Stegt Flæsk)
6-8 slices of lightly salted pork or bacon
8 tbsp. milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
butter for frying
large bunch of chives
2 tomatoes, cut in slices
To make pork, cut into slices and fry without fat on a hot frying pan until slices are golden and tender.
To make omelet, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl. Melt butter in a large frying pan (the same pan used for the pork can be used after wiping it clean with a paper towel) over medium heat. Pour egg mixture into pan and let cook slowly, until it is firm and the bottom and sides are browned – about 8 minutes. Place slices of tomatoes on top of the omelet and arrange fried pork slices on top of the omelet just before it sets. Sprinkle with plenty of clipped chives.
To serve, place frying pan on the table and let the guest take as much or as little omelet as they wish.
Suggested accompaniment: Danish rye bread or whole wheat bread and snaps (Danish aquavit).