June 23rd and not the 21st of June, is the day the Danes celebrate Midsummer Night, the longest day of the year. The sun rises 4.27 in the morning and goes down 9.55 in the evening. They celebrate the 23rd of June in order to mark Sankt Hans Eve – the night before the saint’s day of John the Baptist. It’s celebrated with a lots of bonfires that they begin building a month in advance so that by the third week of June, Denmark’s countryside is dotted with impressive twiggy mountains. On top of these twiggy mountains usually sits a witch. Well, not a real person but more twigs and straw dressed up with a dress, usually black and a big, floppy hat. She is sitting on a broom. The witch is the symbol of evil and they are burned and sent to Bloksbjerg in the mountains of Germany where all the witches get together. Why Germany? Nobody really knows. Maybe beer and cheese. Burning of the witches started in the 16th century when the church convicted and sentenced women to death by flames. The practice of burning witches stopped in 1693 when a 74 year old Anne Palles was burned as a sorceress for “enchanted” a bailiff, caused the sudden death of a woman her husband danced with and been responsible for a poor yield on a farm on which she had once taken a pee. Now people have a tradition of burning straw witches since the 1900’s.
Many Danes often eat their dinner at the beach , but if they don’t, they eat at home and many times at a restaurant. The season for Danish asparagus is over at the end of June, so many people will be serving asparagus.
White and Green Asparagus with Tuna Fish Mousse.
12 spears white asparagus, trimmed
12 spears green asparagus
2 cans of tuna in oil, drained
1 cup/2 dl mayonnaise
½cup/1 dl olive oil
2 tbps. capers
8-12 large capers
2 limes, one cut into wedges, another cut in slices
To make asparagus, place asparagus in salted boiling water and cook until just tender, white 5-6 minutes, green 3-4 minutes depending on how thick they are. Remove from boiling water and plunge them in ice water to stop cooking process. Drain and set aside.
To make Tuna Salad, mix mayonnaise, olive oil and capers in a small bowl.
To serve, place 3 white asparagus and three green asparagus on four plates. Place 1-2 spoonfuls of tuna in the middle of the asparagus and garnish each plate with a slice of lime, a wedge of lime, 2-3 large capers and a little parsley.