Art of the Danish Open-Face Sandwich

Photo: Lynda Balslev for NPR

What image comes to mind when you hear the words "open-face sandwich"? A pile of slobbery slices of greasy meat like the ones you find at diners all across the United States?

Well, leave it to the Danes to elevate open-face sandwich to a yummy artform. Lynda Balslev explains the history of Smorrebrod, as well as a few recipes (at the end):

Smorrebrod, which translates as "butter bread," includes countless open-face sandwich combinations, from minimal to lavish. How they are assembled varies with the occasion. However, they share a specific preparation method and order in which they are eaten. They also share ingredients that reflect straightforward Scandinavian sensibilities, using simple, honest, local food attractively presented with little waste. This is as close to ceremony as you will find in the easygoing Danish culture.

The origin of the open-face sandwich is the European Middle Ages, when thick slices of stale bread, or trenchers, served as plates. The trenchers absorbed the juice and flavor of the toppings and then were discarded. Over time, the bread was incorporated into the meal because the food-soaked "plate" was often the tastiest component.

This makes me hungry for lunch! BRB! - via Fark

Man oh man do those sammiches look good... I miss North Atlantic shrimp.

@Nikki: Nah, dill only goes on seafood! (A most excellent combo. :)) Dill is under-utilized in this country!
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When I think of an open-faced sandwich, I think of each a fresh tomato from my mom's garden, thickly sliced and put on whole wheat bread with a layer of homemade mayonnaise, or a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich. But then again, that's just me.
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That stuff looks like a challenge to eat (try not to make a mess of your cheeks while sinking your teeth in unstable ingredients).

Also, what the crap, lemon slices? Get out!
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The picture is a poor representation of the real stuff. We have at least 200 different pieces of smørrebrød to choose from. And we always enjoy it with knife, fork, napkin, cold beer and sometimes akvavit. Truly one of the greatest offerings from the danish cuisine.
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I'm a Canadian of Danish origin an have recently begun a blog on the topic of Danish open-faced sandwich recipes. Over the past several years, my goal has been to figure out how to reproduce hard-to-find Danish ingredients so I can enjoy traditional sandwiches here in Canada. If you are interested in following these recipes as I publish them, here is the link:
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