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  • Hilde Huus

Danish Lunching with Marianne Bournes

Marianne’s smørrebrød creations

If it was indeed the Earl of Sandwich who invented the sandwich, it was certainly the Danes who turned bread and other ingredients into a work of art. And Marianne Bournes is a true artist who can take a bit of this and a bit of that and create a culinary masterpiece! With the able assistance of husband David as cameraman, Marianne showed us that there is a lot more to preparing smørrebrød (or open-faced sandwiches) than one might think!

Good smørrebrød must be taken seriously, Marianne told us. They are a lot of work and require advance preparation. And it is not just a matter of combining flavours, they must also be beautiful to look at. The more beautiful they are, the more they will be enjoyed.

Marianne had prepared and set out all her ingredients in advance

Smørrebrød apparently started out as a practical way to send food out to the farm yard workers. No dirty dishes to send back, I suppose! Ingenious! Over time, wonderful creations developed that have now become standards, although, as Marianne pointed out, you can certainly work with whatever you have in your fridge and make substitutions.

All of Marianne’s creations except one use Danish rye bread, which she buys from the Danish Pastry Shop at 1017 Pape Avenue in Toronto. Her first creation was the exception to the rule - shrimp served on white bread. She demonstrated how to layer toppings over a bed of fluffy lettuce, arranging them for body and depth and adding tiny bits of this and that to the top for extra colour and flavour. We learned to never simply lay the main ingredient (salmon, roast beef, ham, etc.,) flat, but to fold and drape it for texture. Dabs here and there of various dressings like mayonnaise or remoulade served to keep things from flying off. Marianne told us that her mother cut off the crusts to make a perfect square, and taught Marianne to spread the butter right to the edge of the bread. “It’s all about how people will feel when they are eating,” she said.

By the end of her demonstration, six gorgeous smørrebrød creations were beautifully displayed on her kitchen counter. Each one was unique, its own special combination of toppings, dressings, pickles, and garnishes. Any one of us would have loved to reach into our computers and pull out just one! Marianne told us she and David would not be able to eat them. Heartbreakingly, it was beginning to look like they would go to waste when one member, who lived nearby, suggested that she could pick them up. I’m sure we were all relieved that someone would be enjoying these mouthwatering little masterpieces!

Even if we could not all have the pleasure of sampling Marianne’s scrumptious creations, we all enjoyed watching and learning about how to make them. The time and effort she put into preparing for and giving her demonstration were greatly appreciated. If anyone has questions about the ingredients Marianne used and how she prepared them, you can email me at I would be happy to include additional tips from Marianne on how to make the smørrebrød in the next newsletter.

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