Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches, or smørrebrød, are not just a means of getting nosh into your gob, they represent a way of thinking about food that reflects restraint, simplicity and clarity.
It's not all that surprising, considering that those also seem to be the hallmarks of Scandinavian design.
Simple, functional, and useful.
Also, fast, easy and tasty.
I spent some time in Denmark, so I've eaten my fair share of smørrebrød, and the trick to creating one is to focus on a single ingredient and allow all the parts to highlight that one thing.
The bread is a pedestal, providing support and structure to hold up the filling, and adding texture and flavor contrast. Typical choices are rye (German-style with whole rye grains), white (sometimes toasted), or sourdough. The bread may or may not be buttered. Mayonaise is sometimes used as a garnish on top of the sandwich, but never smeared on the bread. These are usually eaten with a knife and fork.
Sometimes, the open-faced sandwich may consist of only one perfect thing.
How about an open-faced sandwich of plain white sourdough bread, generously buttered, with an artfully arranged row of tiny, impossibly fresh, cooked and peeled fjord shrimp?
Now, I am not saying they're not good, those American sandwiches you need two hands to pick up.
I'm just saying, sometimes, something lighter is called for.
This is a hot-weather lunch, one that shows off prefectly fresh fruit. It's simple, fast and you can make it from whatever you want, and make it into whatever you want.
Use what you have, and embrace the open-faced sandwich.
Goat cheese, fruit, herb and honey open-faced sandwich.
For each person, you will need:
Two small or one large piece of fruit: I used one each of a small peach and a nectarine. Two slices of bread: I used crispbread. 1/4 cup spreadable soft cheese: I used a local handmade soft goat's milk cheese. Some runny honey, to taste. Some fresh herbs, to taste: I used English thyme and orange mint.
Spread the cheese onto each of the pieces of bread.
Cut the fruit into 4 good thick slices and lay on top of the cheese. I put nectarine on one and peach on the other.
Drizzle the honey onto the fruit open-faced sandwiches, and any extra pieces of fruit.
Wash and dry the herbs, and finely chop any with large leaves if you want. I put thyme on the peach open-faced sandwich, and very thinly sliced mint on the nectarine open-faced sandwich.
Eat with a knife and fork for a traditional lunch - or with your fingers if you want, I won't tell.