Hygge and the art of simple pleasures at the heart of new cookbook
Danish concept of making the most of small moments infuses Trine Hahnemann's book
Taking time out to linger over a midday cup of coffee; cozying up with family or old friends to share a long meal; baking bread and serving it to guests.
All are examples of the Danish concept of hygge. There's no direct translation to English, but the word and its meaning are a crucial part of the country's culture, according to chef and author Trine Hahnemann.
It's also the central theme of her new cookbook, Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge.
"I think it's about always trying to get the best out of everything, and looking for all the little breaks during the day where you are just enjoying life, more or less, but for the simple pleasures," Hahnemann said of hygge.
"If I meet an old friend in the street and we just stand there and talk for five minutes, when we leave each other, I will say, 'It was really hygge to see you.'"
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Simple flavours, comfort food
Hahnemann said the concept infuses the way she cooks in her everyday life and the recipes in her book.
"Food can't be too complicated. Hygge is also about being informal," she said. "You don't have to do a big elaborate dinner to have friends over. You can cook something really nice, just a vegetable stew, and a nice glass of wine."
"Hygge is not about making it really fancy, it's about, you know, making people really feel welcome in your home."
Her most hygge-filled recipes focus on simple, seasonal flavours and hearty comfort food, served by candlelight and eaten slowly.
For winter, she suggested an uncomplicated salad of shredded celeriac with whatever spices you have on hand, tossed with vinegar and oil and served with pork chops fried in butter and sage alongside mashed potatoes.
"I'm trying to tell that story about, I think, how you cook something great that doesn't always have to take a lot of time," Hahnemann said.
"But also where you kind set the stage, you can say, I mean — make sure that you made an effort to have these wonderful breaks in your everyday life that kind of make it worth living."
Hahnemann will be in Winnipeg on Wednesday for a book signing at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 7:30 p.m.