1. I arrive in Copenhagen with a terrific sore throat and low grade fever. My 83 year-old father-in-law sizes up my condition and states that a shot of Gammel Dansk (schnaps) will cure me.
2. Shortly thereafter, I speak on the phone with my sister-in-law who happens to be a surgeon in a nearby hospital. She hears that I am under the weather, and tells me that there are studies that support drinking red wine or rum or Irish coffee in reasonable amounts (her words) to offset a virus.
3. I go to the doctor-on-call to have a strep test, and he takes a swab, acknowledges there is definitely something going on in the back of my throat, and says that in Denmark they do these tests only to decide whether it is absolutely critical to take an antibiotic to cure an ailment. Result: I have a virus, therefore no antibiotics. (I personally support this philosophy.) He then suggests rest and prescribes red wine with dinner.
4. I return to my father-in-law’s house, and my 10 year-old daughter is helping him make dinner, cleaning potatoes, while he fries homemade frikadeller (meat patties) which are his singular specialty in the food-making department to serve us, his guests, for dinner. She then tells me she would like to pick all the ripe gooseberries, raspberries, black currants and wild strawberries in his rambling garden and make Rød Grød med Fløde or Danish Red Berry Soup for our dessert. She then adds that the berries will help to heal my cold, because that is how things work. I agree with this, too.
Rød Grød med Fløde
2 1/2 lbs. mixed summer berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, red and black currants
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Whipped cream or crème fraiche
Mint leaves for garnish
In a heavy medium-sized saucepan combine berries and sugar. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves and berries release their juices, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Cool and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours before serving. Serve with whipped cream or crème fraiche. Garnish with mint leaves.
Note: Any combination of berries may be used. Depending on the combination and acidity of the berries, additional sugar may need to be added. Try to include black currants, if you can, as their firm texture and astringency add extra complexity to the sweet soup.