You’ve kind of heard me say this before, but one of my goals is to redefine the term “Foodie.” If you are someone who like to prepare meals you can call yourself a cook. If you’re someone who loves to thrill your taste buds with various flavor you’re an eater. Of course cooking and eating can and should also be a big part of being a Foodie, but that can’t be all that there is. So what is the definition of a Foodie?
A Foodie is someone who is passionate and cares deeply about food. And so, I believe that a true Foodie, can’t only care about flavors and techniques. A true Foodie has to care about issues like world hunger, labor rights and environmentalism (to name a few).
A few months ago I read about this great project, United Noshes, started by husband and wife team Jesse Friedman and Laura Hadden. Jesse and Laura, true Foodies by my definion,decided last year to embark on a multi year project in which they’d cook a full meal from every country that is a voting member of the UN and… wait for it… wait for it… raise money for the UN World Food Program.
Jesse and Laura research recipes and ingredients to keep these meals as authentic as possible and they invite guests to join! They ask that guests bring a donation for the UN world program. Do these seem like people I needed to know or what?
Last week I realized that they were just about up to Denmark so I offered my help via Twitter and then followed up with an email. Though I knew that you could request an invitation, I thought it was probably too late since the meal was planned for this past Saturday. I wrote Jesse a fairly extensive email about Danish food and meals and offered to send over a bag of my favorite Danish candy, Toms Guldkaramellers. Jesse sent a note of thanks in reply and then invited me to the Danish dinner! Of course I readily excepted and was even more in awe on their awesomeness when Jesse asked for a list of my allergies so he could be conscious while shopping and cooking.
I arrived at Jesse and Lauren’s Brooklyn apartment on Saturday and was greeted by an eclectic group of people. Jesse and Lauren, who turned out to be just as warm and lovely in person, had invited a couple of their IRL friends and then several other people were strangers like me who’d requested an invitation through the United Noshes newsletter. It was such a great group of people. I mean how often do you sit down with 8 complete strangers and have plenty of free flowing conversation, laughter and great food. Two of the guests were actually half Danish and many of the other guests had spent time there so we all had plenty of Denmark related stories to share.
Jesse makes pretty much everything from scratch and we were rewarded with truly authentic Danish delights. First, there was Jesse own version of Aquavit, for which he infused vodka with all kinds of spice. Aquavit is not my favorite thing so I took one tiny sip for the toast, “Skål” and then let someone else have the rest.
There was also pickled herring, another thing I avoided, and delcious frikardeller, pickled beets, Danish blue cheese, leverpostej (liver pate), potato salad creamed kale and fresh baked rugbrød (dark danish rye). Of course everything was washed down with a nice cold Carlsberg!
All in all it was great fun having a little bit of Denmark right here in NYC. We all left with full bellies (seriously I must get that Kale recipe from Jesse), new friends and a promise to return for another meal!
I’m sorry that my pictures are so bad, but definitely check out Laura’s beautiful photos over at United Noshes.
This post resonates with me in a number of ways. First, I think it’s so cool when people regularly give to those who need it – Jesse and Laura sounds like pretty amazing people. I know a couple people here in Chicago who, unrelated to one another, started businesses (one non-profit, one for profit) that’s all about bringing strangers from the same community together … both do so over meals. Also, a number of years ago, I bought a painting from an artist who tended to create a number of paintings with a similar theme and name them as part of a series … when she’d sell these individual paintings, her only request was that all the owners of a particular series get together. Such a neat idea. Also, many years ago (again!), some friends and I started a supper club. There were four of us, but each month, we’d bring other people to the event. Our dinners were anywhere from 6-12 people and there was always a different dynamic at each dinner. It was awesome and amazing.
This is so awesome! I love the whole idea of this, and the community that was created there that night between eight strangers. Amazing!