Seasonal Flavors: A Day to Stay Out Late

The author’s friends sitting down for smørrebrød.

The longest day of the year is magical, and mystical, and mythic, and gorgeous, and firefly-filled and astronomical.  Living in the country, away from light pollution and noise, we always know the phase of the moon and the length of the day. Since it doesn’t take much to make me want to throw a party, June 21 is the perfect excuse.

Much of Europe and the Scandinavian countries refer to this feast as Midsummer’s Night. Shakespeare knew it was a dreamy occasion. Ancient peoples recognized only two seasons: summer and winter, so that the longest day would mark the middle of the warmth, thus midsummer. And for people who spend a significant portion of the year in near darkness with very short days, Nordic people enjoyed this holiday and made the most of the light.

The best summer solstice party is held outdoors, as the light lingers and the warmth envelopes you and your guests. The typical menu in Denmark features Smørrebrød: open-faced sandwiches. We’ll be sitting outside enjoying these as the earth tilts maximally toward our sun and gives us a beautiful excuse to stay up late.

Danish Smørrebrød

Each of these sandwiches is cut in half.  Allow eight pieces per guest.  Serve with boiled potatoes. Choices for the bread include German dark bread, pumpernickel, rye, some thin sliced white bread, and/or some thin sliced whole wheat bread. Assemble your ingredients and put the sandwiches together just before serving. Sandwich examples:

  • Roast beef, mayonnaise, horseradish, red onion, sour cream
  • Butter, cucumber, dill
  • Hard-boiled egg, anchovy, mayonnaise, dill
  • Smoked salmon, shrimp, cucumber, dill, thin slice of lemon
  • Lettuce, small shrimp, radish, mayonnaise
  • Roast beef, mayonnaise, sliced pickled beets
  • Danish blue cheese, sliced apple, bacon
  • Tomato, butter, mayonnaise, chives
  • Butter, smoked herring, red onion
  • Chicken liver pate, sliced pickled beet


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