My husband flew home from Copenhagen with Rugbrød lovingly wrapped in brown paper and tucked in his carry-on bag. Rug what, you say? This dark, sour, rye bread is a staple of the Danish diet and the pallet upon which smorrebrød, their delicious, sometimes elaborate, often humble, open-faced sandwiches are served. Some of you may be familiar with my bread tourette’s and therefore may not find it surprising that this loaf, warm from a Danish bakery, carried over the ocean, is a gift of true love.
Packed with cracked rye kernels, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, and weighing nearly three pounds, it is three times the weight of Milton’s multi-grain bread and mustn’t be confused with pumpernickel, which is steamed, and like language (German, Swedish, or Norwegian), it has a distinctly different flavor. Rugbrød (try saying it with your mouth closed like the Danes) would be my choice of sustenance if I were stranded in the wild, given that I could use it to crack nuts or build a raft. It is a complete package. One slice for breakfast spread with butter and honey, or two slices in your lunch box with goat cheese, cucumbers and dill, or a soft boiled egg with radishes, and you may not feel hungry till the next afternoon. Then again, at dusk, just before the day vanishes, what could be better than an open-faced sandwich of liver pate and pickled red onions with a cold beer on the patio? Let’s keep it simple tonight and save the gastronomical somersaults for another day when the light isn’t so pretty.
Over the next week, we will most likely carve this brick to feast morning, noon, and night. When it’s nearly gone, we’ll crumble the end piece for the sparrows, and think back on it with a real nostalgia. How wholesome it was! How it comforted me! How it was, yes, the best bread of my whole life and all other beloved bakeries would understand my brief betrayal.