Thursday, June 23, 2011
I think I've told this story before, but I come from a long line of story-repeaters, so who am I to resist? My dad likes to tell this one, actually, about the time he asked R what he would consider to be Norway's national dish and R answered 'sandwiches'. R wasn't talking about two slices of sad deli meat between white bread soggy with mayo, of course. But that quintessential Scandinavian obsession, the madder, or open-faced sandwich on rye bread. The word madder I'm pretty sure is a Danish one, but you can find the same thing in Norway, where they're called smørbrød. Slices of whole-grain rye bread heaped with toppings like smoked salmon, tiny shrimps, piles of crabmeat, ham, brown cheese, and it goes on.
In Norway you'd be able to find a good rye fresh-baked in a local bakery. Or you might even be able to make your own without special ordering what we in the US might consider to be 'exotic' whole grains (cracked whole rye comes to mind. Just try finding that in the local Whole Foods. Good luck). So what I've been using are breads from a German company called Mestemacher, which are shaped just like the classic Norwegian variety and contain a ridiculous number of whole grains. They have rye breads with sunflower seeds, rye breads with muesli and something called Fitness Bread, which is actually the kind I'm normally able to find.
So the idea behind this particular incarnation of the Scandinavian open-faced sandwich comes from Trina Hahnemann's The Nordic Diet, about which I've written before. You hardly even need a recipe. Just mix some cottage cheese together with chopped chives, some diced tomato and cucumber, and salt and pepper to taste. Then pile it all on top of a couple of slices of hearty rye bread and enjoy!