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Smoke, salt, dry or pickle it - food from the land of Vikings

Food & Drink
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BORN and bred in Switzerland – now based in Durban – Chef Markus Banziger has traveled the Earth trailblazing in the world of food.
He settled in Durban 20 years ago when he came on board as the opening executive chef at the Durban International Convention Centre (1997-2003), as well as for the 2010 Fifa World Cup at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. He now runs the Anchorage Restaurant at Point Yacht Club.
With his vast international experience with food, and his Swiss connection and insight, we asked him more about this cuisine, why he thinks it’s taking off, and what this type of food brings to the table – so to speak.
He began by explaining what the foundation and roots of this type of food is: “It’s the art of producing food in the most simple and traditional way, utilising what the environment provides and changing seasonally, especially in the Nordic countries, where there are long and harsh winters.
“Salting, smoking, preserving fresh food products in many different ways and methods has been known for many generations and centuries – not necessarily because of good taste but because of sheer necessity to survive.
"The Vikings traveled far during their journeys and needed to be able to eat while on these long trips. So did the indigenous populations, who lived all over the countryside, as there were no stores nearby.”
He said today, with all the convenience stores available around the globe, consumers were even more conscious of what they ate and were possibly opting for healthier, natural and “tested” food.
“There might be a kind of adventure people might want to undertake with their eating experiences. But in my view it is the natural simplicity people want to experience,” he said.
So what are the key elements of a Scandinavian diet or lifestyle when it comes to food?
“Fresh, natural and respectfully prepared food. With so much access to water – fjords, rivers, lakes swamps, etcetera – fish and seafood has always been popular and can be prepared in so many different ways. It also preserves well with smoking, marinating, salting, drying and pickling.
“But the vast spaces of forest and countryside provide the Scandinavians with lots of options – venison, mushrooms, herbs, roots, vegetables, different kinds of honey and berries. An ice-cold bottle of something is a must. Birch, caraway and dill-flavoured spirits from Nordic countries are enjoying a renaissance thanks to the fact that the world has fallen hard for the region’s cuisine and design.”
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