Hygge – so much more than just comfort food

Warm up to the Danish way of life as our resident foodie, Erin Chapman invokes emotions of hygge with mouth-watering foods. Discover (at least one) meaning of hygge with this month’s simple yet scrumptious hygge-inspired recipe, as Erin shares one of her favourite Danish comfort foods, perfect for seeing you through the last stretch of winter.

An important part of culture in Denmark is the concept of hygge, (pronounced “hoo-guh”). While there is no direct translation of the word into English, it involves being comfortable and relaxed, especially in situations of good food and great friends. Although difficult to define, hygge is important because its pursuit is considered by many to be a fundamental part of Danish culture.
For many expats the concept best describes the feeling of being comfortable and intent with your situation and surroundings. American Erin Chapman says that in American culture, “hygge” can best be equated to the comforts Americans find in certain foods – “Comfort Foods”.

So does this mean hygge and comfort food is one in the same thing? Erin thinks not, but rather that the concept of hygge can mean different things to different people. “Speaking from an American standpoint, I feel that the concept of Danish hygge is more an atmosphere – a ‘feeling’ – as opposed to what is actually being eaten, the food that makes you feel comfortable,” she goes on to explain.

Dane Alex Beauchamp tends to agree, saying that hygge is most aptly used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary – as cosy, charming or special. “Hygge (or to be ‘hyggeligt’) doesn’t require learning ‘how to’, adopting it as a lifestyle,” explains Alex in her blog Hygge House. Having said this, Danes do have their share of foods (most being of the meat and potatoes variety) that they would traditionally associate with the feeling of hygge. One particular recipe that has stood out for Erin in the many years she has lived in Denmark is Brændende Kærlighed or, Burning Love. She describes the dish as being memorable for her when she first moved to Denmark, joking that it must be awesome because it’s not like the normally reserved Danes to name something so sultry and intimate.

Brændende Kærlighed (Burning Love)










The premise of the dish couldn’t be more simple, and more “Danish comfort food”. It’s, in a nutshell, mashed potatoes, bacon and onions – simplicity at its best. Why is it named burring love you ask? Well that’s simple too, it gives one the feeling of wanting to be warm and cosy and invokes scenes of sitting by the fire on a bearskin rug, listening to the howling winds outside, glass of wine in hand Perhaps that was the inspiration. SERVES 2-4

1kg potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
600g good quality bacon
1 large onion, chopped
40g butter
50ml milk
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

In a pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes until tender. While preparing the potatoes, fry the bacon in a skillet until cooked through and beginning to crisp. Transfer to a paper towel and sauté the onion in the bacon fat until soft and golden brown. Add the bacon back into the pan and toss over medium heat.

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add the butter and milk and mash with a potato masher or hand mixer, adding a pinch of salt as desired. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a large serving dish or spoon into individual serving dishes. Top with the bacon and onions, a pinch of salt and ground pepper, and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.

Best served with a side of pickled beets for an authentic Danish comfort food experience!

Meet the writer:
Erin Chapman, Co-owner, The American Pie Company – www.theamericanpieco.com
With over 20 years’ experience in the advertising industry, working both in Denmark and USA, Erin has specialised in brand building and image development for lifestyle, food and fashion clientele on both national and international levels. Erin attended DIS, Denmark’s Study Abroad programme in 1996 and made a connection with Copenhagen. She moved to Denmark permanently in 1998 with two suitcases and a pocketful of change. Working in the advertising industry she worked her way up as a senior creative, as well as a voiceover artist, and then began her own brand and design business in 2006. Merging her love for food and art direction, she began food styling and cookbook design for other authors, and then proceeded to continue with recipe development, publishing two cookbooks in Denmark. While living in Los Angeles, Erin worked with several US brands on image and recipe development and upon returning to Denmark, she partnered with Dorte Prip in 2015 to introduce The American Pie Company in Copenhagen. Erin is happily married to her Danish husband and is the mother of a sassy 5-year old daughter who speaks fluent “Danglish”.