blogging, Food

Potatoes and Desperately Danish

Do you think of the Irish famine or Germany when it comes to potatoes?

Continuing on discussing vernacular language and strange idioms, Google threw this up at me today:

I am Danish and might sometimes be a surt løg (a sour onion) read: a grumpy, critical person, although never as self-confessed as my blogger friend M-R, who is known to gå agurk, (go cucumbers) read: go bananas), more often than not, of late, at unsympathetic, collaboratively compromised Realtors or Landlords/Ladies who might træde i spinaten (step in the spinach) read: to say or do something stupid.

See how often kartoffel (potato) features in their slang idioms!

  • Follow one’s own potato
  • a lucky potato
  • a hot potato

and who would have imagined carrots could be akin to snobs! (To play the King Carrot!)

Danes and Potatoes

Potatoes make me think of Denmark. Danes have this thing for potatoes but the likeness of characteristics or emotions to vegetables is something unique perhaps?

For a cold potato salad with some artichoke hearts added, try this Recipe for Danish Potato Salad or KartoffelSalat

Although I don’t always have Coppa on hand, River Cottage’s Paul West’s Potato Gratin recipe is currently my preferred way to cook a warm potato accompaniment. Reproduced below.

It is simply delicious, and I am sure the Irish and the Germans would approve.

Photo by Ray Piedra on

Desiree Potatoes, Coppa and Rosemary Gratin

Paul West


  • 150ml milk
  • 350ml cream
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ onion, studded with 3 cloves
  • 600g ruby lou potatoes
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 200g Coppa, thinly sliced
  • 20g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 bunch oregano leaves, roughly chopped


Use two 800ml casserole dishes or one 1500ml casserole dish.·    

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a small saucepan, gently simmer the milk, cream, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves and onion with cloves for 15 minutes.

Grease the bottom of the casserole dishes with butter.

Slice the potatoes thinly with their skins on and arrange a single layer of potatoes over the bottom of the dish.  Alternate with a layer of onions. Continue with each layer in both of the casserole dishes until you have used up all of the potato and onion, or until you have 1 cm left at the top of the dish.

Strain the milk mixture and season.  Pour over the potatoes and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour, covered.

When the potatoes have cooked through, remove the gratin from the oven and take off the foil.

Lay the coppa slices on top of the gratin. Sprinkle the grated parmesan and oregano leaves over the top and place back into the oven, uncovered for 10 minutes or until the coppa is crisp.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.


63 thoughts on “Potatoes and Desperately Danish”

  1. Your mate M-R also goes bananas about bloggers who post DELICIOUS-looking recipes for stuff she’s not supposed to eat. I mean – potatoes ? cream ? coppa ? (I so clearly recall me and Stringer standing at the Italian deli bars ordering “due etti della coppa, per favore !” and drooling) What a delectable dish this must be. I wonder if I could cook a PERCENTAGE of it ..? I shall try, once I’ve made The Move, as I’ll be able to buy coppa a few doors down the road at the sublime market ! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good to hear that you have a market near you with Italian delicacies, m’dear! I think you could replace the cream with a low fat variety – I use a long life UTC cream – this breaks down the milk protein so it digests better. The Moth loves the full cream, but if it suits your diet you might even be able to use oat milk or coconut cream, perhaps? Go ahead and experiment!


          1. I shall try but I will have to write as they are in a mobile bad zone as I so phone calls are so bad. I shall tell my cousin a few things and see how he reacts 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Of all those wonderful expressions, ‘hot potato; is the only one we use here. Danish potatoes are the BEST in the world. Once, years ago, a huge bag of little waxy potatoes was just about the only souvenir we brought back from our holiday there. And I’m bookmarking that recipe!.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your recipe is similar, but more complex than my ‘Heart attack potato bake’. Makes me keen to get rid of this bloody covid so I get my appetite back and can cook up a feed my doctor would disapprove of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no. You have lost your appetite. Not surprising with Covid. Have you lost your sense of smell too?
      Hoping you recover soon and enjoy some heart attach potato bake. How does that differ from this version?


      1. No loss of smell just a fever for a few days and no appetite, aches and pains, and a headache for days. Not as bad as I thought it would be.

        My recipe. Sliced spuds, diced bacon, chives, sour cream,diced onion, and cheese. Basically layer it up in a casserole dish and slow bake in the oven for a few hours. Dude food!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. There are some strange sayings in Portuguese but they rarely relate to vegetables, so these are interesting 😀
    I’ve discovered recently how easy it is to grow potatoes and have some getting ready to be picked… The recipe you shared looks good, but I don’t think I can get Coppa around here.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. All three recipes sound delicious. I’ve never made potato salad with artichoke hearts but how could you go wrong with that? Though the traditional Danish version sounds wonderful too. The other dish we’d call scalloped potatoes or a potato gratin, and I have to say it is certainly my favorite way of preparing potatoes, though it it only very rarely allowed in my kitchen. But now that you have me thinking about it…. I’ve never used rosemary in mine and I’m not sure what coppa is. Mr. Google was not entirely helpful but it appears to be a cured meat? Prosciutto was suggested as a substitute and I’m sure that would be good with potatoes but I’m not sure whether that would be something you would use. I use a slightly different method and I don’t mean to insult you, but I find that a recipe I found when Dad was complaining that I never cooked Swedish food works really well for me. If you are interested you can find my recipe for kokt potatisgratäng at The main difference is that the potatoes are simmered in the milk/cream mixture first, before baking. Your seasoning is a bit different and I really must try it. Oh, and when I think of potatoes, I think of Idaho. You have a lot of food idioms and I can think of only a few in English which are nowhere near as colorful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Zazzy and thanks for the recipe. That sounds like less fuss than my recipe. Don’t worry you are not insulting me. It is always fun to see other versions or similar dishes. I won’t take offence. Especially if it is a Scandinavian recipe! Lol. I think you could substitute any cured meat. I would use Prosciutto, or even Pancetta, (sauteed), ham or salami. Don’t forget some cheese on top too!
      Potatoes and Idaho hey? Lots of Scandi immigrants there, I suspect?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure. It does appear that in the early 1900s a quarter of Idaho’s population was Scandinavian. Today, Minnesota and North and South Dakota have the highest population of Scandinavian ancestry. My people landed in New York and never moved west. I always thought that Idaho just had a really good climate for growing potatoes.

        Cheese is always welcome with potatoes! I’m glad I did not offend you. I enjoy talking about food and recipes, especially different ways of preparing things around the world. One of the joys of the internet is meeting different people who approach an ingredient in totally different ways.


        1. Absolutely it is the greatest joy and most wonderful learning tool to be able to discuss with others reaching globally with our communication. Hearing different opinions and perspectives is so important is this day and age.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to say I’m thinking of Germans when I hear “potatoes” (Kartoffel). No, not because we eat it a lot or have many recipes but because the Turkish population of Germany has adopted it as a derogatory term for “Bio Germans” (i.e. Germans with German ancestry). I’m not really offended by it. The Americans have called us “Krauts” before.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Bio Germans are potatoes? Wow! I have not heard this but I have heard of Krauts. The US TV shows of the fifties often referred to that term. We are well past that now I think. Do the Turkish folk not eat potatoes. And strangely enough, I have seen more Turkish people in The Netherlands and in Sydney Australia than in Germany. I must have just been to Turkish areas.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are just under 3 Mio people with Turkish ancestry in Germany, about half of them still hold the Turkish nationality (Germany only allows dual citizenship in special cases so they have to decided either way). In larger cities there are Turkish/Arab areas but generally they are mixed in with the non-Turkish population, Urban problem areas with a high percentage of migrants are not exclusively Turkish. The first arrivals in great numbers came in the early 70s, so there are third or fourth generations here who have a feeble hold with their parents or grandparents culture. It has been shown in recent years that second generation migrants make more efforts to be inconspicuous but the younger people have developed almost something like a ghetto mentality (obviously, this is a big generealisation and one has to be careful with those). The term “Kartoffel” was originally a defense against the derogatory terms Germans used against Turkish people (which I won’t repeat). Amongst young Turkish people as special kind of sociolect has developed, almost akin to ghetto slang.


            1. I doubt it, really. It’s a youth language, often associated with lack of education, and usually delivered with an aggressive kind of swagger. It’s difficult to explain.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I think I get what you mean. Like Aussie Bogan slang. It is rough and lots of expletives. But then the rap music kind of slang in the American negro world has become mainstream, as has pigeon English in Papua New Guinea. Interesting nonetheless

              Liked by 1 person

  7. Hmm. This looks like an amped up version of scalloped potatoes.
    I didn’t know what coppa was. Google suggests that it’s the same as capocollo, which is a more common name here. Capocollo is like round ham with more fat than regular ham. Is that it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wanted to add ..

      When I was growing up in Jamaica, potatoes was not a huge part of daily meals. So far as I knew then, there was only one type of white potato which we called ‘Irish potato’. It wasn’t until I was in Canada that I learned that there were different types, prescribed for different uses and always used as the carby portion of a meal.

      This all turned around when I went to Beijing where potatoes were treated like vegetables and noodles were the carb. There, potatoes were sold by the piece as Chinese home cooks rarely bought more than 1 or 2 at a time. In Singapore, the potato names changed again but were still used more as vegetables than carbs. (French fries and MacDonald’s notwithstanding 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Poor potato. It gets blamed a lot but maybe it’s the deep fat fried & salted that goes so well with beer, burgers and up-sized meals in-between meals, that’s the problem. That’s the cause anyways over here 😉


          1. It definitely is the deep fat fried version that is most to blame. But I do try to limit the amount I eat. I read that is important to limit carbs after 3 pm – presumably because one is more sedentary in the evening and doesn’t need the energy boost that carbs can give us?

            Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your food based vernacular! It sounds so fun in a Danish accent. I have a small fetish for the languages of Scandinavia but find Swedish closest to Scottish dialects. Netflix has allowed me to feast on Scandinavian series. I am sure you are not a sour onion!! 🧅🧅

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad I am not a sour onion and have not done my cabbage at something! The Danes are funny! Scottish and Swedish – I will have to concentrate to hear that, I think. I just discovered a new series – a Norwegian one on SBS, and am ready for more Scandi action. Have you got a favourite series?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. The Wallander series are great and so lovely to see Skåne in Sweden! In the town of Ystad, you probably know that you can even talk Wallander tours and see some of the popular locations through the series! I ran out of time to do that when I visited – only got as far as Malmø. 😦 I have heard a few people speak about the Chestnut Man positively. It seems to have reached a huge audience. This bodes well for Danish dramas! I shall look up Katla. I haven’t seen that one. Thanks, Kerry.

          Liked by 1 person

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