Course Syllabus

IMG_5273 2.jpegNordic Culinary Culture


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Semester & Location: Summer 2024, Session 3 - DIS Copenhagen


Type & Credits:

3 Credits

Study Tours:


Major Disciplines:

Anthropology, Sociology, Sustainability



Faculty Members:

Morten Hedegaard Larsen

Time & Place:


Description of Course

Nordic food has experienced something of a renaissance over the last decade. This movement, crystallised as the ‘New Nordic Cuisine’ (NNC) in 2004, aspires to build a strong and distinct ‘Nordic’ food culture, based on using local and seasonal products, reviving and adapting traditional Nordic cooking techniques, and combining good taste with health and well-being.

But in what political and cultural realm has the NNC movement gained traction? What is the traditional culinary culture in the Nordic region? How is the movement distinct and similar in different national and regional contexts? How can academic fields such as food studies, sociology, cultural studies explain these changes and understand the transition from traditional food culture in the Nordic region? And comprehend these developments in relation to broader cultural, historical and political context? Also, how are global food trends integrated into the Nordic region in culinary transformation?

In this course, students will analyse the culinary developments in the Nordic countries through both theoretical discussions and case studies in Copenhagen predominantly. The course will try and show the changing food cultures of the Nordic Region as well as innovation in food products, experiences and tourism.

By the end of this course, students will have gained a better understanding of Nordic culinary cultures in and out of Denmark, and will be equipped to apply central concepts in food studies through hands-on experiences. The students will also be able to analyse central discussions and dilemmas in food culture in the age of globalization.

Course Themes

  • New Nordic Cuisine and New Nordic Diet
  • Traditional Culinary identity
  • Terroir, food and spaces
  • Sustainability
  • Food and identity
  • Fine Dining and everyday cooking
  • Dietary Advice and Regulation
  • Politics of food and Power perspectives
  • Food and globalization


Morten Hedegaard Larsen
PhD in Food Studies/Sociology. Morten has published papers on food myths, agricultural experiences and social factors to explain obesity, for instance. For the last five years Morten has held positions as assistant professor and post.doc at Aalborg University and Copenhagen University. There he acted as lecturer, coordinator and developer at the masters program Integrated Food Studies and taught courses on communication, staging and consumption of food, innovation and entrepreneurship, food concept design and sustainable food systems. In recent years he has also been involved in food innovation and food start-up research projects. Morten was, also, the first communications officer for the largest Danish food hall "TorvehallerneKBH". With DIS since 2021.

Selected Readings

Field Studies

  • Fangst (Kødbyen) and Absalon Community Space
  • Copenhagen Hospitality School

Guest Lecturers

Jannie Vestergaard

Jannie Steensig Vestergaard is owner of Nordic Food Sense and Vice-chair person for Slow Food Denmark. Importantly Jannie has worked with food related projects for years in both Finland and Sweden, and thus have in-depth knowledge of their food systems and culinary differences.


Approach to Teaching

Food is complex and must be explored in multiple ways. In addition to reading, writing, watching, and discussing, this course will also emphasize learning through tasting, smelling, making, and eating. By integrating discursive and embodied modes of learning, this course aims to map out not only what cuisine is, but what it can do in the world—how it forms and can transform our relationships to where we live and those, human and otherwise, we live with.

Expectations of the Students

I expect you to read all the text to each class and come prepared with questions to me and your fellow students. In discussion please make references to your readings. Also, I expect you to do all the assignments as described in the syllabus for the sessions.


Evaluation & Grading



Active Participation in Class and on Field Studies 



Traditional Food Shopping



Essay/Thick description Culinary Culture and Identity



Active Participation in Class, Field Studies and Visits

Evaluation criteria (Ongoing):

  • Demonstrate having read carefully for each session
  • Participate actively in class discussions
  • Contribute with original perspectives from previous experience, courses
  • Doing assignments carefully and timely
  • Partaking constructively in field trips

Traditional Food Shopping

In this assignment students are to go explore and shop in Inner Copenhagen in groups, in order to complete the assignment.

The groups should try and document how traditional food is consumed, sold and marketed in Inner Copenhagen.

Upload two pictures to padlet along with a brief text of no more than 500 words (link will be provided). Please relate your observations to minimum one piece of class literature - for instance food and identity (Bourdieu) or Lupton's theories on the body and self.

Lastly, each group should purchase a food or drink for the class to enjoy at our next possible session. The food or drink should reflect both a historical and a contemporary element.
DIS will reimburse up to 300 kroners per group for these food purchases (remember you are purchasing tastings for 20 people).


Written analysis of Culinary Places and Spaces based on a Field Study  

The essay/thick description should be between 1200-1500 words + two photos

Instructions on the written assessment of Culinary Places and Spaces

  • Desk research and background information about the area of the place/space: E.g., From reading about the place, Vesterbro is the old slaughterhouse area and moreover, the old red light district where some of the worlds first porn stores opened in late 1969. The neighborhood has undergone significant modernization, and the street now cuts through one of the hippest neighborhoods in Copenhagen, which presumably made Vesterbro very attractive for young adults with a good career who wanted to live in the center (Remember references)
  • Describe the designated area of this palce/space: what do you observe yourself  (e.g., "I observe an active social life at Istedgade, Sønderboulevard in the neighborhood, Vesterbro in Copenhagen. There is a vast variety of bars, restaurants, bodegas, porn shop open at night, wine bars, cafés, pizza slides places, kebab, kiosks and small fancy fast food places. (I would ask the group to visit specific streets in e.g.Vesterbro).
  • Describe the designated place/space (e.g., The Kiosk, Vesterbro, Make the reader think she or he is in this place - Be descriptive). Add photos which illustrates the atmosphere at this place. 
  • Interpret how the background information about the area and what you observed in the area and the marked can say something about the market's customers' taste and food priorities and not least identity. Refer to relevant theories from the course- the "capitals" for instance.
  • Interview some of the 'locals' if you get the impression that they can- and would like - to help you get even more insights into the area you are investigating. You are not required to interview anyone if you do not feel comfortable doing this, or feel that interviewing does not add to you thick description in any meaningful way.

The evaluation criteria:

  • Ability to select a relevant case and describe your observations and situate it properly in context.
  • Analytical skills that goes beyond the mere descriptive level by connecting analytical points to other analytical points and produce a coherent reflection –particularly in the discussion.
  • Ability to relate your analytical example to class and to the literature from class - minimum 2 texts from class-  and other relevant literature if relevant.
  • Clarity of style and coherence of argumentation.


Academic Regulations (Summer)

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

Date Details Due