I’ve become completely charmed by the Danish concept of hygge, roughly translated as coziness, but more broadly meaning the warm feeling of being comfy, warm, and content with close friends and family. (This NPR article explains it a little more.) Picture: lighting candles, snuggling under a soft blanket, drinking mulled wine, and watching the snow through your window while chatting with friends. But hygge is not reserved strictly for cold weather. The word is actually derived from a Norwegian word for well-being, and the concept is something that can be achieved in any season. Hallelujah! I’m just returned from a weeklong trip to Scandinavia (Oslo and Copenhagen), where I got a little too comfortable with the mid-60s temps, throwing on sweaters and scarves and not looking back. That is, until I returned to NYC, the big, hot asphalt apple dumpling of a summer city, in all of its mid-90s shimmering heatwave glory.
Every winter I spend at least a few months longing for spring, and in particularly hot summers like this one, I’ve spent much of July and August longing for autumn. Could it be that I’m spending almost half of my year waiting for the season ahead instead of loving the one I’m with? This is not at all ok. This past winter I tried to embrace the concept of hygge and get cozy, enjoying holiday festivities, winter foods, and using my oven as much as possible to 1) cook the delicious winter foods and 2) help out my apartment’s anemic heating system. This did cut my winter discontent down to about two months from the previous three or four. My current objective: find summer hygge and stop whining about the heat!
One way I like to enjoy every season is by eating local in-season produce, especially those (few) things that it’s impossible to get out of season (ramps in spring, chestnuts in winter). I have definitely been enjoying summer foods: corn on the cob, beefsteak tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, etc, etc, but this preternaturally hot late August is calling for something above and beyond. And today that something is fresh figs, with Roquefort, malty buckwheat honey, bread, and salted Marcona almonds. Figs have two seasons: early summer and late summer/early autumn, so I feel like they help me achieve both aspirational hygge (figs are in season in late summer and early autumn . . . and it’s almost early autumn!) and be-here-now hygge ( . . . and it is late summer!). There’s really no recipe here. Serve all of these together, throw some prosciutto into the mix if you’re feeling meaty, and add some tawny port or oloroso sherry if you’re feeling thirsty. August hygge.
Figs & Roquefort
- Very ripe fresh figs
- A hunk of Roquefort, at room temperature
- Buckwheat honey (or other intensely flavored honey, like chestnut)
- Salted Marcona almonds