Local Heart, Global Soul

December 8, 2017

Oh, And Just A Little Mayonnaise Please…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Any New Zealander will tell you that when you want something to put onto fries, nothing beats good old “Watties” (brand) tomato sauce.

Not just any tomato sauce, it has to be Watties.

You can taste the difference of substitutes a kilometre away, and the absence of it in Europe is the reason I would rather eat fries with just a little salt than anything else.

Ask any born and bred Dutch person though and you will get the answer for their preferred topping in a nano-second: mayonnaise. In fact for many Dutch, anything except mayonnaise is almost unthinkable.

After a busy morning touring Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog, Himself suggested some fries for lunch.

He was hungry, after all all I have to do is sit in the wheelchair and take photographs, he’s the one doing the pushing.

After twenty-three years of marriage I know he’s a big fan of mayonnaise but nothing quite prepared me for the sight that greeted me when he exited the shop with this. I was about to say “this monstrosity” but since we were sharing and I was getting the mayo-free ones from the bottom I thought I better not make too much fuss over how gross I thought this looked. Needless to say ALL of the mayonnaise was for him. Good thing he’s in training for a marathon, you’d need to after a lunch like this.

March 17, 2014

Something Fishy This Way Comes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was born into a Dutch family so you’d assume that I was genetically and culturally  predisposed to consider certain Dutch traditions and cuisines as “normal” fare.

Not so…

Way back in the nineteen eighties on one of my visits to the Netherlands with my parents, my father tried to introduce me to the Dutch speciality of “haring” (herring).

These small fish are filleted (the tail is left on) and the whole fillets emerged in finely chopped raw onion and some lemon.

This semi-cures the raw fish, which is then most popularly eaten  in two ways: the first involves picking up the fillet by the tail with two fingers, raising your arm high in the air, tipping your head back, opening your mouth and disposing of the fillet of fish more or less in one go. The other most popular scenario is to have the fillet of “haring” served sandwich style in a small soft white bread roll, along with a dollop of the onions it has been perviously sitting in. As with the pervious method usually the tails of the haring have been left attached to the  filet so the tail traditionally sticks out of one end of the bread roll.

By now, having read so far you are probably feeling one of two things: delight because this sounds like a delectable treat or revulsion because this all sounds more than a little disgusting.

I’m a foodie and even in my younger days I was not averse to trying a few new culinary dishes at least once (OK to be fair I have always drawn the line at offal, insects and anything that sounded more than a little wierd) and I also discovered that “trying new  things” was sometimes the less than easy way to discover my multiple food allergies, after reactions and subsequent hospital visits. Some things apparently you have to learn the hard way and I lived to tell the tale.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So, harking back to my eighties Dutch visit, the haring season has just opened and my father has gleefully been down to the local fishmonger’s kiosk for a treat that has been absent from his diet since he emigrated to New Zealand. He has been looking forward to this a lot and so have his brothers and sisters that we are visiting and a handful of my cousins who have all gathered.

My Aunt’s and Uncles are busy me telling how they consider the first haring of the season the best so I am in for a treat.

The haring is unwrapped,  I’m confronted with a rather strong smell of fish… now I like fish a lot, but this is raw and packed full of raw onion and a tad overwhelming. I tactfully negotiate that I take a small bite-sized piece rather than an entire fillet to try first.

Pinching  one corner of the piece between two fingers I close my head back…. My father, mother, aunt’s, uncles and cousins do the same but with bigger pieces.  I hear noises of culinary appreciation all around me. I haven’t joined them. Instead I’m standing there in panic thinking that this is the most disgusting, vile, awful thing I have ever tried to eat in my entire life, it’s smelly, slippery, I hate the taste and the texture and I’m now wondering how far I could spit it to get rid of it. I closed my eyes, ew, that just intensified the panic, I opened them again, my father is looking at me, telling me how good it is and holding out a bigger piece for me to take. I still don’t know how I can physically swallow the first piece.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the end, since more of my relatives were now looking at me and it’s become clear that any attempt to sneakily eject the offending mouthful would be doomed to failure I did what I have never done before or since: I made one huge gulp and swallowed the piece of fish whole.  Choking and gasping and trying not to wretch in the presence of company is never done with dignity, so my mother ended up thumping my back and handing me a glass of water.

You need some practice”  laughed my father, and offered me some more. I politely declined and admitted it “really wasn’t  my thing“.   He looked shocked and jokingly asked me if I was really his daughter? Certainly the rest of the family were also surprised  and rather shocked that I didn’t adore this treat like they did.

Fast forward to the early 1990’s… I’ve met my Dutch husband to be and discovered that he’s a “haring”  lover.  He invites me to join him in a haring treat and I tell him about the nightmare taste experience etched into my memory.  We make a pact: we have no secrets in our marriage with one exception:  he’s most welcome to eat haring but please don’t do it around me, he has to brush his teeth five times before he kisses me next, I don’t want any sign that this slippery fish has passed his lips.   We are both happy.

Now during the summer of 2012 I’m with my visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine” in central Delft… there’s a fishmonger’ stall on the corner and haring to be tried.  You can guess which delicacy she is excited about trying. I steel myself to take the photographs and look away as soon as I can. She’s more than delighted with the taste, …more power to her, but at least I won’t be kissing  her later!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 9, 2013

Veere, In One Little Street A Sweet Surprise…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We were back in Zeeland,  in Veere last weekend so that Himself could help out in our friends garden and Little Mr. and I came along for the ride.

Kiwi Daughter however opted to stay back in The Hague with relatives and spend time with a cousin her age.

Little Mr. had a similar offer but declined, mostly because he had his eye on the electric hedge trimmer and wanted to help in the garden too.

In reality he ended up with the safer job of  gathering up the trimmings and using a pair of secateurs to cut them into small enough pieces to add to the “green”(recyclable organic matter) rubbish collection, being nominated  “master of the wheelbarrow” and watering the plants after their trim with the hose …(i.e he played at being a fireman and made rainbows and getting almost  as wet as the plants whilst doing it). Luckily just as it looked like summer was going to be non existent in the Netherlands this year, the weather finally come good, with blue skies and temperatures of 27 C (about time too, we were getting sick of temperatures of 13 C  at the beginning of July) .

Whist Himself gets stuck onto trimming greenery with the trimmer and wants an uninterrupted hour or two to get into the work, I distract Little Mr. with the offer of a walk around town, the prospect of a swim and the possibility of an ice cream after lunch.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We set off  on the walking tour and near the back of the church I find a little shop that wasn’t open when Himself and I last visited Veere.

It’s a small local sweet shop and naturally we just had to step inside and check the place out. “Oma’s snoepwinkel” translates as “Grandma’s Sweetshop / Candy Store” and it’s full of old fashioned and local Dutch sweet treats.

Inside is a tiny one room affair, so they have maximised the space available by having on of the street windows open up, so you can buy your treats from the pavement if you wish. Inside the typical Dutch “drop” (salty liquorice) and everything from hard toffees to fudges… Once inside I dare anyone to be able to leave empty handed. We certainly failed.

It was more difficult than I thought to get photographs, the two friendly and helpful young women who staffed the place were certainly happy that I did, but it was the constant stream of customers that posed the biggest obstacle.

I heard from our friend that during summer holidays and weekends (in the season when they are open) you would be hard pushed to find this little establishment without a queue out the door. I got lucky when I took the outside shots, it was still early in the morning and quieter in the street, but even so I think I waited more than 10 minutes to get shots without customers in them.

Little Mr.would have no problem walking down this street again if asked… hmm, I wonder why?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 4, 2013

Zeeuwse Bolus: Zeeland’s Sweet Treats…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

From yesterday’s post you’ll have discovered that Himself and I are sitting in a friend’s garden in the small town of Veere in the Dutch province of Zeeland.

The weather is fine and sunny but our coats are still on due to a biting wind, so a hot cup of Rooibos tea and some fortification by way of food is most welcome.

Our friend duly presents us with a well known local delicacy certain to do the trick: a sticky, sweet “Zeeuwse bolus”  which is a type of bread rolled in cinnamon and treacle and then rolled into a spiral shape.

The result is softer and less bready than actual bread in texture, an ultra sticky confection that will stick to your ribs and put your teeth into shock mode with a mega dose of sweetness.

(There seems to be a lot of treacle in this particular one) I’d say that the sugar quotient of a Bolus would be on a par with for instance a Greek Baklava. Of course this is just an indication of the ones we had… each Zeeland baker has their own secret recipe and flavours and levels of sweetness differ a bit accordingly. Suffice to say that in the past when I wasn’t watching what I ate,  I *could* have wolfed down two cinnamon rolls  (albeit with a large dose of guilt) but although a Bolus is a close cousin of the cinnamon roll, I’d personally have difficulty even contemplating a second after finishing a first.

Wikipedia tells me:  A “bolus” is a sweet pastry of Jewish origin from the Dutch province of Zeeland. They are made by baking a type of dough in a spiral shape and covering it with treacle and cinnamon. The shape of a bolus differs between bakers. They are often eaten with coffee, and the flatter underside is covered with butter. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The bolus was first created in Zeeland in the first half of the 17th century by Sephardic Jewish bakers. There are signs of the Portuguese Jewish community that inhabited Zeeland at the Jewish cemetery in Middelburg.

Later bakers from Zeeland perfected the art of the bolus, sometimes using steam ovens to keep the cinnamon pastry tender.

Since 1998 every year during the “bolus week”, on the Tuesday of the 12th week of the year, the Bolusbaking Championships Zeeland are held, organised by the Dutch Bakery Centre.

Participating bakers may get eight boluses judged. A jury consisting of two bakers and two Zeelandia employees choses the best ten products and the winner gets chosen from these by the audience. The winner receives the Bolus Trophy and gets to call themselves “Best Bolus Baker” for a year.

The bolus is seen as an originally Jewish pastry and has been spread all over the globe during the diaspora. In New York they are sold in many delicatessen, usually in a sweeter and larger version. Boluses also get sold in Jerusalem, Moscow and in Paris and the south of France.

The word bolus comes from Yiddish. The Dutch Van Dale etymological dictionary says that the word bolus or boles is the plural of bole, which comes from the Spanish bollo meaning bun, or bola which means “ball”.

I went looking for an as authentic a Zeeuwse Bolus as possible and found a recipe (dutch language only) from dutch baker Piet Daane,  however the Dutch text also tells me that “this isn’t the official recipe as theirs is top secret”, so I decided to leave the link here but give you another recipe for it that’s a step-by-step recipe already in English. (hey why reinvent the wheel? ) If anyone still really really wants a translation of the Dutch version just let me know and I’ll scribble it out for you.

http://www.thecooksbelly.com/2013/02/zeeuwse-bolus-dutch-cinnamon-ecstacy.html  (please note that Will has iced his version with a lemon, that’s definiately not done in any authentic Dutch version of the recipe, but hey, each to his own)

http://www.zeeuwsebolus.nl/recept.htm  (Dutch language text only). (note the word “hier” (here) underlined in red in the middle of the text, if you click on that you’ll get step-by-step photographs of Bolussen being made in a commercial Dutch bakery)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeeuwse_bolus

June 8, 2013

A Bigger Star In Some Families Than In Others…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you want a super-traditional (and slightly old-fashioned) Dutch dessert to try out for size then you need look no further than your local Dutch supermarket.

However you aren’t going to find this classic cake in the cake section and this is probably the reason that it’s gone largely undiscovered by many a visitor or new settler in the Netherlands,  because  it’s found unexpectedly instead the freezer section of the supermarket.

This dessert is called a ” Sneeuster” (Snow Star) and is basically two cake layers with a filling of  “advocaat” (egg nog) and cream.

In our extended family this was well known with all of  Himself’s cousins because it was a particular favourite of their Oma (grandmother) who was my mother in law’s sister.

Because Himself’s mother didn’t like this one as much, this was rarely seen on our side of the family and although Himself already knew of  it from many childhood visits to his Aunt,  I also only discovered it relatively recently when one of Himself’s cousins came to stay with us.

Naturally the cream and egg nog layers thaw once it’s been out of the freezer a little while,  so I thought it prudent to cut all of the pieces of the cake whilst it fresh out of the freezer before the cream and egg nog got squishy. For my own personal preference, this is too creamy, but I have to temper that statement by honestly saying that I don’t particularly like any  heavily creamed dessert so this was never destined to be a contender for my personal favourite.

Clearly in some families the Sneeuster is going to be more of a star then in others…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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