No, I’m not talking about the singer! For our last evening in Denmark, each of us were invited to have dinner with a Danish family.
My hosts, Annette and Sig, were recent retirees. Their friend Vibaken Meyer (!) picked myself and Paulo (an Italian attending the conference) in her new Volvo, which she explained was her retirement gift. After a short ride, we arrived and met Annette and Sig at their apartment (or flat as they say in Europe).
From the outside it was unimpressive, not looking much nicer than student housing in Brookings. The inside was a different story; think about an IKEA catalog, only with much better quality. Nearly seconds after we arrived, the hospitality started.
Our appetizer was wine and chicken pot pies (I can’t remember or say the Danish word), which were very similar to what we eat at home, but with some sort of seafood influence in the gravy. Our main dish was meatloaf, new potatoes and cucumber salad. As I told Dr. Klein, it was very similar to what what you would expect at a church potluck in South Dakota.
Don’t get me wrong, the food has been great, but it is certainly clear the Northern European food culture is not much different than what all of us grew up eating.
The lively part of our conversation centered around one Mr. Donald Trump. Paulo was happy to see the US suffering with such a buffoon close to the highest office in the world as Italy dealt with a similar leader in Italy, Vibaken, Sig and Anette were horrified Americans (whom they deeply respect) could allow such a thing to happen.
One thing I made clear to them was that most of us do not believe in the unempathetic rhetoric Mr. Trump exudes, and that as educated Americans we all felt inclined to discuss, disagree, and learn about such issues. They were thankful to hear such an opinion (full disclosure, I’m a Republican who will NOT vote for Donald).
Most surprising was their delight in paying taxes. They felt it provided a safety net for anyone who faced hardship. On the other hand, Vibaken was quite outspoken that migrants must work for three months before obtaining government support.
The parallels didn’t stop with food or politics. Annette was eager to learn about my family and excited to help me find gifts to take home to my children. For my daughter she sent me home with a bead set to make necklaces, and for both of them they sent giant shells they had collected at a recent visit to Normandy.
The night ended with discussion about the War and many other things. By then it was midnight, and I had a 530 busride to catch the next day. All of us exchanged contact information and promised to visit sometime in the future.