After speaking with Lars Beese, executive chef to the Danish ambassador at the Royal Danish Embassy in Washington, I’m beginning to feel a little like the freak who wants to eat Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce in August. Although Beese says he loves ebelskivers enough to “eat them all year-round,” he concedes that “it seems odd” to sell or chow down on the sweet little snacks outside the holiday season.
“I’m used to only having it for the Christmas season,” he says.
Then again, this is Washington, D.C., not Copenhagen, and if we want to eat dessert balls in summer, who’s going to stop us? Who outside of Danish expats, in fact, would even know it’s appropriate to stop us? Kera Carpenter, chef and owner of Domku in Petworth, has been serving ebelskivers on her Scandinavian and Slavic brunch menu for years now, and she’s heard barely a peep from customers, save the occasional Denmark native who shakes his head in disapproval.
Carpenter, like me, has an outsider’s appreciation of the Danish treats, and no cultural baggage that would prevent her from enjoying them (or selling them) year-round. She’s originally from Seoul but was adopted at age 7 by a couple in Missouri. She knows the Kansas City, Mo., dining scene like an employee from the visitors bureau.
In a way, Carpenter, 46, has spent most of her life learning to appreciate other people’s cultures. That includes the cuisines that fall under the broad category of “Scandinavian food,” such as the cooking of Denmark. Carpenter traveled to Sweden once in 2004, but being a high-functioning Harvard grad (master’s in education policy) and a former KPMG consultant in the public sector, she fills in the gaps of her knowledge with books. Lots of books, such as Beatrice Ojakangas’s “The Great Scandinavian Baking Book,” which is largely responsible for Carpenter’s ebelskiver education. She has distilled all this information into her own variations on Scandinavian dishes, which she introduced in 2005, when she ditched the corporate world for good and opened the funky Domku.