One of the main dishes that daily crosses our counter is the infamous “Duck Fat Fries” – this blog post tries to shine some light on the contentious origin of its recipe. Sure, the most vibrant disputes you would find around the borders of Belgium and France – two countries with the same language claiming ownership about the deep-fried gold. One legend tells the story of poor Belgian fishermen and inhabitants of the villages Namur, Andenne, and Dinant, who in the 17th century had the custom of fishing in the Meuse for small fish that would end up in the fryer for dinner. During the winter month when the river was frozen and fishing became hazardous, they would fry small cuts of potatoes in the form of small fish. However, it is questionable how peasants could have dedicated large quantities of fat for cooking potatoes. Another story explains how American and British soldiers stationed in Belgium during World War I contributed to the confusion. Known as “French Fries” in most English speaking countries, it is said that foreign soldiers although eating “Belgium Fries” based their naming on the local language and the official language of the Belgian Army, which was also French. Fries are considered the orphan of street cooking, it is one significant reason why it is hard to establish where they really come from. Some Parisians believe that “Pommes Frites” were invented by street vendors on the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris 1789, just before the outbreak of the French revolution. Another reason for the popularity of potatoes in France is largely credited to a French army medical officer named Antoine Augustine Parmentier, who very famously championed the potatoes throughout France and parts of Europe. During the Seven Years War, he was taken captive in Prussia and was given potatoes as prison rations. At the time, the French used potatoes only for hog feed, in fact the French Parliament even banned cultivation of potatoes as they were convinced they caused leprosy. Back in France, Parmentier began to promote the potato as potential food source, hosting dinners for the famous and royals. In the end, it took a famine in 1785 for the potato to become popular in France. Other hints go back to the times when potatoes first appeared in Europe through the help of Spanish colonies, who firstly found potatoes in abandoned villages in Colombia beginning of the 16th century. At the time the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe they controlled much of what is now modern day Belgium, which again gives some credence to the Belgians, who probably were among the first who tested out ways to prepare dishes from potatoes. Without a doubt fries are known all around the world regardless of who invented them. The facts are, Belgians do consume the most fries per capita of any country in Europe and American fast food chains pushed the popularity of this simple recipe further into the world over time.
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The story says that Fair Trade had its ignition in the early 1980’s with Francisco Vanderhoff Boersma, a Dutch missionary, who returned from the Oaxacan mountains in Mexico to his native Netherlands to talk to anyone who would listen about the inability of Mexican coffee producers to receive a price that would ensure them a dignified standard of living. In 1988 he co-founded the first Fair Trade label. Today, Fair Trade commerce takes place in 125 countries (Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania), and total annual sales of Fair Trade products exceed $6 billion – sales increasing. It is based on a simple idea, which involves a mutually beneficial exchange between two parties: producers and consumers. Its purpose is to improve the living and working conditions of small farmers and workers, and it depends on solidarity with people who are willing to pay more for a product to ensure that their purchase has a positive impact on producers. The goal is to empower producers and their organizations so that they can not only earn a fair price for their goods, but also take control of their businesses and reinvest in their communities. While middlemen, whether they are independent operators or employees of transnational companies, take advantage of the producers’ isolation and lack of market knowledge, Fair Trade organizations try to eliminate them and thereby shortening the supply chain in order to increase the producers’ income and product quality. The crucial element of the Fair Trade system is of course: certification. The role of certification is to make sure that all stakeholders in each supply chain meet an established set of trade, labor, and environmental standards. From the beginning, the main Fair Trade product has been coffee, but the list of certified goods has expanded to include other agricultural products such as cocoa, honey, rice, cotton, sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and so forth. Although the consumption of Fair Trade products is increasing, they represent a small fraction of the overall market for coffee and other commodities. An estimated 25 million small producers make up 70 percent of worldwide coffee production, but sales of Fair Trade coffee account for only 2 percent of total production. Apart from the seemingly rising Fair Trade offering, there is a growing group of coffee growers, roasters, and importers who believe that Fair Trade-certified coffee is not living up to its chief promise to reduce poverty. Among the concerns are that the premiums paid by consumers are not going directly to farmers, the quality of Fair Trade coffee is uneven, and the model is technologically outdated. Critiques say that Fair Trade has evolved from an economic and social justice movement to largely a marketing model for ethical consumerism.
What do we actually know about organic foods? The mantra says: Economic activity in harmony with nature with bio farmers trying to foster natural processes of life and closed nutrient cycles. According to european history early settlements close to the swiss Monte Verità (= Mointain of the truth) can be partly considered as predecessors for the bio movement. Beginning of the 20th century, they already merged ideas about nutrition and consciousness. Unprocessed foods, no supplements and vegetarianism were manifested that also became essential during the Hippie years of the late 60’ and early 70’. Increased popularity influenced markets and the industry around it, not much later agriculture adapted to the demand of alternative food movements. Anyways, biological cultivation has always been of interest, long before we founded a EU-Organic Certification in 2000. Different countries have different regulations, these are supposed to be overseen by the respective governments. Generally synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not allowed. Genetically modified seeds are abandoned, and farmers are asked to maintain strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products. However, certified organic foods are not necessarily pesticide-free as certain pesticides are allowed. Mass production and global distribution makes it necessary to prolong expiry dates. I.e. we couldn’t serve our nations with potatoes if not using certain pesticides to prevent them from mouldering. „Bio“ became a huge trend that can be seen at many farmers’ markets, farm shops, restaurant and cafes that trade on a sustainable, ethical ethos. It definitely changed modern industrial farming, accepting that you can’t just spray and inject your way to sustainable food production. Yet various claims have been raised if organic standards are really better, i.e. for raising livestocks organically. Organic standards do not allow you to treat a sick animal with anything that is scientifically proven to be effective. You are not allowed to use a series of conventional therapies such as antibiotics, hormones, steroids, feed additives etc. So keeping the certificate, leaving the sick animal hoping to get better or skipping regulations and focus on the health and production? Requirements are high for producers and again regulated differently on country or EU level, which often can lead to ambiguous conditions. Whether organic foods or „Fairtrade“ another ethical certification with price premium, it is a constant expansion and exchange of knowledge that creates more awareness and care for our planet.
An essential good and probably one of the widest spread foods around the world, yet different in so many regions. Looking at just Europe, you would find various dark breads especially in Northern Europe, having Scandinavia as forerunner for barley, rye, wheat and oat breads. Four grain types dominated the north since the prehistoric era (before 1000 AD). It is said that Germany prides itself on having the largest variety of breads worldwide. More than 300 basic kinds of bread are produced with more than 1,000 types of small bread-rolls and pastries provided by over 13.000 bakeries country wide. Germans are worldwide the biggest consumers (per capita) of bread, followed by Chile. French produce a lot of white bread, such as the rather sweet „pain de mie“ used for sandwiches or toasts, and the baguette, a long thin loaf (approx. 5-6cm in diameter and 65cm length) made from basic lean dough. In the Czech Republic in example, you would find mainly bread made from sourdough, which is made by the fermentation of dough using naturally-occurring lactobacilli and yeast. Its name tells it mildly sour taste not very common for most breads. Italy represents a long tradition for bread making with widely different recipes from north to south. Sfilatino Imbottito, famous Focaccia, and Pizza Bianca just to name a few. In Spain, there have been guilds of bakers for over 750 years. One of the oldest was founded in Barcelona around 12000 AD. Located in the province of Zamora, there is a region called Tierra del pan („Land of the bread“), guess what industry was dominating down there!? And did you know that bakers in Iceland bake rye breads in hot springs and also serve stock fish as a substitute for bread, eaten with butter on the side with almost every meal. Of course, there are so many more cultures that refined this ordinary craft, one thing is for sure..we hardly live without it!
How would you describe a market? Does a street food market equal what we understand as market place? Do you like to find these warehouses of consumption or would you change its function? What is a market? Is it a place to eat and drink or rather a gathering of farmers? Multicultural or rather local? Would you expect vendors that come from outside of the city, who weekly commute to provide you with vital groceries to take home for private cooking sessions or is the market the place where you satisfy your hunger straight away? How are markets different from nation to nation? Do you bargain or accept prices that decrease with bulk buys? You really look for this glass of Aperol after work or you would like to try the herbal juice, you could drink or just use as dressing for your salad? Olive oil is another thing, can you buy processed goods on markets or just fresh stuff from mother nature? Don’t you miss these trading places, filled with ordinary people, selling and buying goods from around the region? Can you imagine the market as enchanted mingling of true characters as it is depicted in fantastic medieval movies? Can you give us your impressions on this?
Over the time we found it curious how different people think and assess religion. It spreads around the world, it tells stories of moral and ways of living. Faith consists of its parish, its buildings and values, it is usually a big part of a culture and it shapes consciously or more subtle our coexistence. Such every individual and mentality is different, religious exposures are perceived distinctivly. We think it is wonderful how artful sacred architecture can be. It is a multi sensual experience traveling through moslem countries listening to the words of the muezzin or visiting the Vatican and its sheltered gardens in Rome. European churches are often very splendid, especially the catholic ones. Big archaic buildings, often empty spaces too holy for multifunctional use. The further you come up north the more protestants you would find. Houses of God become more modern and pragmatic with this comes new functions in use. A good example is the St. Agnes church in Berlin-Kreuzberg. A brutalist church build by Werner Düttmann in 1967. It is a untypical layout with its thick concrete walls and cubistic forms. Since 2004 all religious activities stopped and Johann König, well known gallery owner, took over and used the unique place as cultural playground for art and performances. Currently you could join yoga courses next to contemporary art exhibitions. Big festivals like c/o Pop in Cologne are transforming churches like the one of St. Michael into a concert hall and Copenhagen is expanding religious services towards cultural gatherings since a long time. „God goes Deep“ is one of those special events happening at Vor Frue Kirke in the inner city of the danish capitol. Ambient dj live sets free of charge, open for everyone. The concept is ideal and clear: decontextualize the use of a beautiful old christian church, a wide space with very special acoustic qualities, and let people across cultures come together jointly appreciating music – an art form that is universal. We would like to develop this idea a bit further. Being very open about music genres and its roots why can’t we use these spaces to integrate various cultures in showcasing their traditional music to the public. Easily you create a multicultural juxtaposition of people that should connect way more often in order to withhold all those ridiculous resentiments people desperately care about these days. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6blGJldtGWw
We are just another company founded in the capitol of Denmark. A city with a strong entrepreneurial vibe and Scandinavian mentality towards business. Rather laid back, neat and well dressed. Fashion is a big word in Copenhagen. The shopping streets appear economically healthy with its independent fashion stores next to only a few big chains. People here really value quality in fashion that mostly defines itself in timeless purism and classy „sportism“. Danes can combine sneakers in such an elegant way with youngsters pushing styles that you would have thought forgotten. It is a pretty world, it seems flawless, protected, healthy and homogeneous…at least by day. The nightlife as in every other city has its own atmosphere and lacks a bit inspiration compared to our favorites abroad. Experts in design, aesthetically fashioned, and culinary world class apparently does not encourage any club life in the city. Crowds that often dance to predictable pop classics, they like to sing-along or prefer „hygge“ (= a danish word for “cosiness“). The top-twenty of Hip Hop and R&B is much appreciated all around the city and played literally every weekend. DJ’s rather bet on the expected than innovate. Apart from the mainly expansive cheap chic venues within the central streets of the city, there are also some young crews that eagerly shape the underground. Christiania apparently isn’t the same compared to the old days, yet we love the fact that the city keeps its alternative heart. With one of the world’s famous female welding workshops, lots of music, creativity and pot shops, this area holds up its philosophy since the early 70’. For us it is just another facet of this partly ambivalent scenery. It is questionable that Copenhagen has the best restaurants in the world, grocery stores however appear rather standardized mostly without fresh meat/fish counters and extensive plastic packaging despite the fact that Denmark emphasizes ecological sustainability. Copenhagen is a city by the sea without a proper fish market, yet there are voices that promote the so called Nordic Cuisine movement, a term cultivated by the well known danish restaurant Noma. All these words are of course subjective and from an international point of view, we like to be in this European city and we hope it shares the same open international mind set then we do!
We were always wondering what we are actually using in the kitchen everyday. All those different ingredients and the on going discussion what is a fruit and what belongs to vegetables. We started to look into it further, and honestly, before bursting our character limit in this blog stating every little scientific and botanical detail, we found this 4min video that give you a fairly quick introduction in the topic…
Cities are trading places – full of markets, shops and products to be consumed. Apart from producing essential goods, we think it is important to create tons of things we don’t really need just to keep the machinery running. According to statistics we use approx. 10-12% of our gross household disposable income for food and beverages. It is the third largest share of yearly expenditures after housing and transport. With Switzerland and Norway as one of the most expansive countries leading the list of spendings. Central european countries like France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Denmark for example spend between 2500€ – 3000€ per year on food. Its is clear that the lower the GDP of a country the higher the percentage of income that is spend on food. Of course culinary culture varies a lot between all the 47 European countries, and we are privileged to appreciate so many diverse peculiarities of food, recipes and dishes within a close continental distance. Especially when traveling from north to south you will notice the different mind sets and attitudes towards food. In our opinion it is important to value quality over quantity and support the local. We like to spend rather more for a good piece of meat coming straight from the slaughter than buying plastic packed goods or imported veggies that taste like water. Unfortunately mass production and globally important goods change the way we think about availability and pricing. It is not healthy to import tomatoes from greenhouses in Spain over to a sunny country such as Croatia just for the sake of price dumping. People need to effort their food, but at the same time should value taste and origin over price!
Victor Lieberath and Troels Øder Hansen are friends, supporters and responsible for shaping our brand since the early times. They played a big role in our look, feel and probably even taste. „Victor Lieberath Studio“ is a creative agency in Copenhagen working with clients mainly within the fields of art, culture and fashion. Apart from jobs including campaigns for Levis or the Danish Design Store New York, he created our brand identity and uses typography to help us stand out within the busy market environment. Troels is the founder of „Dull Days Copenhagen“, a design company that focuses on different scales of product design ranging all the way from complete interiors to chairs, tables and smaller items. Mainly focusing on collaborations with companies, artists and public institutions, he was responsible for the concept of our food atelier and the modular elements on our rooftop. Ground floor the kitchen, above a multifunctional terrace to sit, eat, enjoy the view over the market or dance at our Wednesday’s DJ sessions. Precise wood work, playful but functional design. We highly appreciate collaborating with those experienced professionals, they help us to communicate our culture and mindset. For us design should be considered as a holistic approach. The prettiest projects result from creative collaboration, idea gathering and the guts for execution…there is more to come, it is pure fun! For more information please follow the links: www.victorlieberath.com www.dulldays.dk