June 15, 2011
Mash-ups has been en vogue for over seven years now. Every time Britney or Gaga release a new smash hit it’s instantly mashed up with an old Kylie Minogue or Human League hit. Sometimes, it’s because mixing and mashing creates an entirely new song. Sometimes it’s for promotional purposes. And other times, it’s done in order to squeeze more hit factor into a limited time frame in order to please as many viewers as possible (like in the global (pretty positively gay) hit show GLEE).
Sometimes mash-ups work (like this Whitney Houston/Kraftwerk mash-up) and sometimes they don’t. Like this weekend when I attended a benefit for Japan arranged by the Japanese Embassy in Copenhagen. A few days ago I got this email from Club Nippon which is the activity department of the embassy:
“Tomorrow the Danish celebrity chefs Nikolaj Kirk, Mikkel Maarbjerg and Rasmus Kjær among others will be serving hot dogs in front of Frederiksberg City Hall 11.00 to 18.00. The hot dogs are inspired by Japanese cuisine. The price will be a mere 30 kr. for one of these delicious hot do–and best of all, the proceeds goes to charity for Japan through Red Cross in Japan.”
Benefit poster. I still can’t believe almost 24,000 are dead or missing.
Closeup of poster pics probably taken three months ago in Northern Japan–poor little radioactive fella…
Danish hot dogs and Japanese cuisine mash-up? Interesting. I thought, let’s go!–another good chance to support the cause. And 30 DKK a pop is normal price in Denmark (around $6).
The event was in collaboration with a big kids day in the heart of Copenhagen and luckily the weather was fab.
Three pølsevogne (sausage wagons, in free translation) were located on the square offering four different kinds of hot dog remixes. What you normally find in a Danish hot dog is a roasted sausage in light fluffy bread, sennep, ketchup, remoulade, roasted onions, raw onions and pickled cucumber (more about the Danish ‘dog here). These mash-ups were different yet familiar:
Hot dog with cucumber, umeboshi, wasabi mayo and fried daikon.
Big sausage with Japanese inspired potato salad, bonito flakes, mirin, sake and herbs. Hmm…
Hot dog with Japanese barbecue sauce, onion salad and Japanese cucumber salad.
Again, hmmm…this looks like a normal Danish hot dog. What is Japanese cucumber salad? Pickled in mirin or what?
Hot dog with shredded daikon, miso mayo, pickled ginger, radish sprouts and nori (seaweed).
As I’m on a Japanese food diet I can’t really eat Western food these days such as bread, milk and fatty meats. But in the service of Umamimart, I took one for the team and ordered this hot dog which looked the least weird.
It’s a looooong line–actually twice this long behind me. Japanese is the coolest shit to most gaijins (foreigners).
The sausages are lined up and placed in their bread vessels before getting topped off:
The sprouts, ginger and daikon are resting in boxes. The dude making the hot dogs accepted cash with the same (dirty) hands which he used for making the hot dogs and grabbing the toppings. I’m grossed out but try to not say anything, I always get in trouble when bitching about stuff like this publicly (which is why I write for this blog instead, ha!)
Ok, here we go!
Nice bread–not artificially white and fluffy but more sturdy and full of grains. Just how the modern Danes like it.
I think the ‘dog looks nice, it’s a colourful blend of greens, whites, traced with some pink:
I bite into the thing. It’s kinda hard to consume, things are falling off, the ginger is chewy and hard to bite over. It’s an unusual mix. Not overwhelming. The refinement of the Japanese flavours kind of drowns in the heavy meat taste.
I would say yay for trying to experiment and play around with the cultural flavours in the name of supporting Japan, but I’m not really a fan of the end result. Although it could be much worse, I guess it somehow might work better in one way or another, perhaps with a tofu sausage instead or yakitori chicken sausage.
I totally dig the trendy sustainable vessel the hot dog came in though:
A thinly sliced piece of wood has replaced the usual paper napkin beneath the bread. I don’t recall seeing these in Japan but it looks so like it. Again, a Japanese/Scandinavian parallel style. Didn’t they use to wrap food in thinly cut wood back in the old days in Japan? Wood shavings folded into a bento box?
I hope the benefit was a success. Looks like it with the long lines of hungry child-toting parents. It reminded me of the Umamimart benefits in SF and LA–wherever there’s food, people will come. You might say that it’s a good thing Japan is beloved for its cuisine.
Imagine a Russian/Japanese pig tail gravy stew mashup!
Update: The Danish Crown Prince HKH Frederik is currently visiting the earthquake aftermath areas of Japan. Here’s a photo series including super cute little Japanese kids playing soccer with Frederik.