SCANDIMARKET TAKES LONDON
Published: 09 Dec 2015
The growing popularity of Scandinavian food and culture in the UK has reached such epic proportions that this coming Christmas is sure to go down as the year of the 'Scandi' market. Everything from Danish Smørrebrød to Norweigian fish dishes will be gleefully devoured by Londoners who love to engage with a trend. This British affection for Scandinavia began some years ago and has now gotten to the point that Scandinavian Christmas markets are eclipsing the more traditional German ones—in London, at least.
Visitors to London currently make for the Scandimarket in Rotherhithe, south of the Thames. Stalls line the street near the traditional Finnish church there, and include Danish, Finnish, Swedish and Norweigian culinary delights to try. Salmon on rye bread with sour cream was extremely popular when I visited, but the major draw of the market is that niche Scandinavian products are on sale for later consumption. Roe paste, peppermint alcohol and all manner of biscuits are available, and this transforms what is a little quiet street in London into a bustling hive of activity. Obviously Christmas markets are not a unique or new invention for London, but Danish influence is certainly being felt this year—a testament to the incredible sustained growth of the Danish food industry. It is as much about the exporting of ideas as much as it is the literal foodstuffs.
There are well over thirty different stallholders at the Scandimarket in Rotherhithe, including 'Stockholm Restaurant & Deli', 'Skandihome' and 'Nordic Nic Nac'. Part of the popularity of the market is down to this rich variation, with some stalls selling traditional Scandinavian products and gifts as opposed to food. Several stalls are manned by ex-patriate Danish people looking to share the delicious meals of their home country. So numerous are these ex-pats that there are dedicated suppliers who offer Danish food for delivery online, all within the UK. That isn't to say you have to visit the UK to benefit from Danish and Scandinavian Christmas markets—Denmark has plenty of its own, and they definitely pull out all the stops. Many people say that they are visiting Denmark's markets this Christmas rather than those in Germany.
It isn't just Scandinavian food that London is starting to crave—even Scandinavian cinema is being hungrily devoured by a public increasingly interested in the culture's flavours. It is through Danish directors and actors that the viral hunger for gløgg and hygge has grown in London. The first is a seasonal mulled wine, a delicious concoction that is simply perfect on a bitterly cold London winter's day. However, the second—hygge—is a Danish concept meaning 'cosiness', and used in the same way as British people might use 'hospitality'. It is a feeling that people get when they visit the Danish market in Hampstead, the sense that they are warmly welcomed as brothers and sisters, not strangers. In this dark winter, following the deadly Paris attacks, a little brotherly love spreading out across Europe can be no bad thing for people searching for a little comfort.
Many people feel so inspired after visiting the Scandimarket and the Danish market that they start to think about a job in the food industry themselves. The creativity of the stallholders and the foods they offer makes one stop and think, especially in the run up to the end of the year (when many people make important life direction-type decisions. The truth is that you needn't be held back by age in your search for food jobs in Denmark. Although many careers start after leaving school, you can switch at any time in your life. Perhaps you've grown bored with retirement and want a new challenge, or simply fancy choosing a whole new path for yourself. And where better to start a career in food than Denmark, one of the centres for the entire global industry? Cities like Copenhagen, Odense and Aarhus offer a wealth of opportunities for the right candidate—all you need is drive and a determination to succeed.