The Danish New Year’s Eve dish that links my ancestors and me – plus the recipe

Chef Trine Hahnemann on cod with mustard sauce – and the memories of visits to family in Ærøskøbing making it brings back

Ærø is a small island in southern Denmark. To get there you need to take a ferry from Svendborg. I have boarded that ferry many times – I always feel a sense of belonging. My father comes from Ærø. And I have fond memories from when my grandfather, called farfar, was alive and I would visit him. The ferry takes you to Ærøskøbing – a quaint town with cobbled streets and tiny old houses in lots of different colours. When I arrive, I am immediately transported into another world, where time seems different.

Ærø represents my family’s history, which is very much linked to food, both everyday eating and celebrations. As a little girl I would often spend New Year’s Eve with my farfar. One year I was snowed in when visiting for Christmas: the sea was frozen solid between Ærø and the main island of Funen, and nobody could get off. To celebrate New Year’s Eve, we went for dinner at my Aunt Sarah’s house. Every year she would serve cod with mustard sauce and a range of accompaniments. I will never forget the first time I was introduced to this traditional dinner.

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