Kompe on My Mind

Photo of two kompe
Globalized culture means that cultural values and artifacts move easily across cultural boundaries, and so it is fitting that Carmichael and Gorrell's song introduces "kompe".
Greyish in color (actually looking like West African "fo fo", which I do not like, and that is putting it mildly), kompe is not much to look at, consisting of potato and flour. Not much of a taste either, if you ask the uninitiated.
But ask a "Sørlending" (people, like myself, who hail from the southernmost coastal region of Ultima Thule), and you'll hear a different story. It is all in our upbringing, our socialization into the local food culture, and our approach to eating this dish. What make or brake it, is what come with it (including meat inside or not, and what you eat and drink with it). Locals have endless discussion on the merit of whether to use melted butter or not, and recount famous mythical stories of the time they downed 10 (or was it 16?) of them.
When I travel, I can bring along the (in)famous (depending on your point of view) Brown cheese. Kompe is a different story, they don't travel well. So, it's essential to stock up on tastes and memories prior to traveling (as now, when I shortly travel to Bulgaria for an extended stay). An otherwise interesting food culture, Bulgaria has yet to appreciate the art of making and eating kompe. Even my ancestors the Vikings, who made important forays into Bulgaria, didn't manage to convince them - peacefully or otherwise - as to the superior food that kompe is.
To dig further into world culture, it is not at all apt to argue that "to eat kompe or not, that is the question". It is actually appropriate, considering that Hamlet's Elsinore (Kronborg Castle) to a large extent was built from stone plundered from destroyed Ultima Thulean monasteries and churches, courtesy the Danish colonial power. Hamlet likely traveled to these lands, and he for sure ate kompe before returning to Kronborg castle. In this way he contributed to spreading kompe to the world!
Lars Soeftestad


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