The Comfort of a Danish Pastry
Throughout my childhood, the local bakery, Lagkagehuset, played a vital role in my everyday life and upbringing. When I was little, my father would take me there every Sunday morning, and we would buy pastries for breakfast and bread for the week. The owner of the bakery, Ole, would always greet us with a smile as he carried the endless trays of freshly baked spanduers, kanelstænger and tebirkes across the bakery. While pastry was not something I would eat every day, it was a defining factor in my Danish upbringing.
Having grown up in Denmark, my life was as dependent on the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ as it was on Danish pastries – a small facet of my identity that nonetheless, I could embrace in every corner of Copenhagen. With Denmark obtaining a little less than half of London’s population, and Copenhagen even less, I found myself struggling to adapt to the busy streets of London when I moved there for University in September.
However, one day when I was walking down Tottenham Court Road, a sign caught my name. It was an Ole and Steen sign, a name which sounded oddly familiar. Upon closer inspection, I realised it had Lagkagehuset scribbled right under and the windows were filled to the brim with danish pastries, bread and cakes. As I rushed to open the door I was immediately hit with the smell of ‘home’ as I embraced the bakery’s atmosphere.
There was one distinguishing factor between this bakery and the one at home though: where the Danish one leaned more towards the original bakery setup, the English one had created seating areas and designed it to be a hyggeligt place to be. As I ordered myself a raisin bun and a spandauer for later, the lady revealed to me that this was just one of their shops and that many more were to come. That was how I found myself, more often than I would like to admit; sitting and reading or studying while drinking coffee in the one place that took me away from the busy streets of London, and transported me back into a calming Danish atmosphere.
As an international student in a big city, finding a place that reminded me of home was a crucial factor in adapting to not only the university, but the city and its culture too. While their homely pastries are what introduced me to the bakery, I have now found myself making an excuse to go for a coffee or even just water to embrace the ‘hygge’ atmosphere they have managed to create.
That said, I would still highly recommend going and getting a pastry from there. Even more so, I would recommend any international student to find a snippet of their home where they feel like they belong in London. A place where they don’t feel ostracised because of their culture and language, but a place where they feel like home.
By Inger Hansen