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Danish food is the best in Scandinavia -- in fact, it's among the best in Europe.

Breakfast is usually big and hearty, just right for a day of sightseeing. It usually consists of homemade breads, Danish cheeses, and often a boiled egg or salami. In most establishments you can order bacon and eggs, two items that are well stocked here. However, you may prefer a simple continental breakfast of Danish wienerbrød (pastry) and coffee. The "Danish" is moist, airy, and rich.

The favorite dish at midday is the ubiquitous smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) -- a national institution. Literally, this means "bread and butter," but the Danes stack this sandwich as if it were the Leaning Tower of Pisa -- and then throw in a slice of curled cucumber and bits of parsley, or perhaps sliced peaches or a mushroom for added color.

Two of these sandwiches can make a more-than-filling lunch. They're everywhere -- from the grandest dining rooms to the lowliest pushcart. Many restaurants offer a wide selection; guests look over a checklist and then mark the ones they want. Some are made with sliced pork (perhaps a prune on top), roast beef with béarnaise sauce and crispy fried bits of onion, or liver paste adorned with an olive or cucumber slice and gelatin made with strong beef stock.

Smørrebrød is often served as an hors d'oeuvre. The most popular, most tempting, and usually most expensive of these delicacies is prepared with tiny Danish shrimp, on which a lemon slice and caviar often perch, perhaps even with fresh dill. The "ugly duckling" of the smørrebrød family is anything with a cold sunny-side-up egg on top of it.

For dinner, the Danes tend to keep farmers' hours: 6:30pm is common, although restaurants remain open much later. Many main-course dishes are familiar to North Americans, but they're prepared with a distinct flourish in Denmark -- for example, lever med løg (liver and fried onion), bøf (beef, in a thousand different ways), lammesteg (roast lamb), or that old reliable staple, flæskesteg med rødkål (roast pork with red cabbage).

Danish chefs are really noted for their fresh fish dishes. The tiny Danish shrimp, rejer, are splendid; herring and kippers are also greeted with much enthusiasm. Top-notch fish dishes include rodspætte (plaice), laks (salmon), makrel (mackerel), and kogt torsk (boiled cod).

Danish cheese may be consumed at any meal and then eaten again on a late-night smørrebrød at Tivoli. Danish bleu is already familiar to most people. For something softer and milder, try havarti.

Danish specialties that are worth sampling include frikadeller, the Danish meatballs (prepared in various ways); a Danish omelet with a rasher of bacon covered with chopped chives and served in a skillet; and Danish hamburger patties topped with fried onions and coated with a rich brown gravy.

Two great desserts are Danish apple Charlotte, best when decorated with whipped cream, dried bread crumbs, and chopped almonds; and rødgrød med fløde -- basically a jellied fruit-studded juice, served with thick cream.

As for drinks, Carlsberg and Tuborg beer are Denmark's national beverages. A bottle of Pilsner costs about half the price of a stronger export beer with the fancy label. Value-conscious Danes rely on the low-priced fadøl (draft beer); visitors on a modest budget might want to do the same.

You may gravitate more toward akvavit (schnapps), which comes from the city of Aalborg, in northern Jutland. The Danes, who usually drink it at mealtime, follow it with a beer chaser. Made from a distilling process using potatoes, it should be served only icy cold.

For those with a daintier taste, the world-famous Danish liqueur, Cherry Herring, is a delightful drink; made from cherries, as the name implies, it can be consumed anytime, except with meals.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.