Local Heart, Global Soul

April 30, 2015

The “Bossche Bol” And The “Moorkop”: Sweet Or Unsweetened Debate…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Nobody can come to ‘s-Hertogenbosch (a.k.a. Den Bosch)  without trying it’s best known speciality: the  “Bossche bol”.

Obviously  we knew all about this delicacy and headed to a cafe advertising this delicacy on offer.

Wikipedia (links at the end of this post) explains the history of this speciality and that of it’s close cousin the “Moorkop”. Both texts are however only available in Dutch so I’ll translate the most important points here for you.

A “Bossche” a ball or sjekladebol (chocoladebol) is a baked choux pastry / profiterole / cream puff  ball about the size of a small adult fist that is filled with cream and given a dark (never milk chocolate) chocolate glaze.

Bossche Bollen (Literally:” Balls from Den Bosch”)  have a diameter of around 12 cm and are thus considered large cakes. Nevertheless, there is also a version with a double cross-section; the so-called “reuzenbol” (“giant ball”).

The delicacy called a “Bossche Bol” outside  ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but inside the city the locals call it a ” sjekladebol ” (Kiwi’s note: “sjekladebol” reflects the local dialect and if you’d like a go at pronouncing it then try a drunkenly slurred version of “chocoladebol” = “shock-laar-der-bol”.

Wiki then goes on to tell me that the Bossche Bol that the difference between these and Moorkops is that the later are not coated with real chocolate, are smaller and come with extra whipped cream on top.

However my Dutch husband strongly disputes the “not using real chocolate” bit and felt that maybe this Wiki piece was written by a someone in the city who might like to big up the local product.

Eating a “Bossche” can of course get rather messy, especially considering all that cream inside, so one tip from the locals is to turn it around so that the chocolate side is down and bite through the softer choux pastry at the bottom, that’s supposed at result in less cream squirting out all over your face, but having watched my children tackle these at other times, that theory remains open for debate. (or I just have messy kids, and yes  …that’s a very strong possibility).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The article goes on to say that the “reuzenbol” (giant ball) , being the even bigger version, has often resulted in visitors reaching for assistance in the form of a knife and fork: something that is seen as exceptionally bad form by the purist locals.

Prior to the twentieth century in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the predecessor of the current Bossche Bol was sold by confectioner Lambermont, in a building at the former Cat Vischstraat number B61.

Lambermont’s “Bol” resembled a Moorkop but was filled with custard.

When  in 1920 the Hague confectioner Henri van der Silk started  the “Hague Confectionery, Lunchroom and Snelbuffet “in Den Bosch also in the Vischstraat (number 25) he developed a variant, with cream filling and topped with real chocolate, which should be seen as his descendants as original of the Bossche bol.   During the course of the 1920’s, Lambermont  also sold the cream filled variant. The name “Bossche Bol” has become established over the course of time, especially with the popularity of the delicacy outside of Den Bosch. The exact recipe for it varies from baker to baker.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, confectionery Jan de Groot  was widely known as ‘the address’ for the Bossche bol.

The bakery was founded in 1936 by Jan de Groot senior and his wife Marie de Groot Van Gaal, but only later, after moving, started selling chocolate balls and other creamy pastries according of course to his own recipe.

For “Bossche Bol” Jan de Groot are now considered as “the originals”.

The secret Bosche Bol recipe is transferred only within the family and in 2000  the “Bossche Bol of Jan de Groot” registered as a protected trademark. The name “Bossche Bol” is thereby  protected, but only the combination with the name of Jan de Groot.

The “cousin” of the Bossche Bol is the “Moorkop” (literally: Moor head, Moors being a traditionally Muslim people of mixed Berber /  Arab ancestry, now living chiefly in northwest Africa)

A Moorkop is also a profiterole pastry filled with whipped cream.

Wiki tells me that a Moorkop is glazed with white or dark chocolate but in over twenty years here I’ve never seen a white glazed one. I asked Himself and he has never seen it either although we once saw one glazed in milk chocolate and it was unusual enough to be a point of conversation.

It’s true that there is usually whipped cream on the top, but in Dutch café’s they have a tendency to pile whipped cream onto almost everything unless you specifically ask them not to.

Wiki tells me that the origin of the  “Moorkop”name also lies in Den Bosch. There was a house named ‘de Moriaan’, and the residents were well known for their cooking, specialising in delicious patisseries.

At some point in time a pastry became a popular delicacy and someone shouted: ‘it looks like a morenkop’ (the stone head of a moor, or black  man , that hung above many pharmacies). That is apparently  how the Moorkop got it’s name.

Himself tells me that there is only one major difference between a Bossche Bol and a Moorkop and that is that a Bossche Bol is filled with unsweetened cream and a Moorkop with sweetened cream, in his opinion the Bossche Bol is nicest because the unsweetened cream is nicer against the sweetness of the chocolate topping whereas the Moorkop can be a little cloyingly  sweet.

Personally, as a near non-cream eater my only way to eat these is to empty all of the cream out of the Bol (or Moorkop) onto Himself’s plate (For him there is no such thing as “too much cream”) from there I just eat the profiterole and the chocolate!

Since Himself was absent on this trip I opted for one of the least creamy pastries in the shop: a slice of apricot pie (I adore apricots), and one of my friends followed in the no-cream option with a slice of apple pie.

The others however opted for a Bossche Bol and it’s by pure coincidence (it was really close to St Jan’s Cathedral)  that we choose the establishment of Jan de Groot to sample Den Bosch’s most famous fare, so the Bossche Bol in the photograph is very much the “real deal”!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Bossche Bollen   (text Dutch language only)

Moorkop (text Dutch language only)

April 28, 2015

“Christoffel” And A Small Clash Of Cultures…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This series of archive posts is all about a Saturday trip to the Noord-Brabands city of Den Bosch.

We’ve already been on one of the boat tours, the others have spent some time at the visiting kermis (fun fair) whilst I visited the St Jan’s (St John’s) Cathedral.

We did however stop for lunch at a café / restaurant called “Christoffel“.

The portion sizes were rather too small for our Canadian visitor, even though  to be fair this was a lunch menu rather than a dinner one, and she had definite issues with the fact that the small salad and side order of fries (I forgot to photograph them) that were  bought out were not just for her, but was meant to be shared with me because we both had ordered a warm lunch and a joint salad and fries are not uncommon here in the Netherlands.

Yes, the portions are small but the rest of us, being used to this had no issues and the food was  ok.

It wasn’t the best lunch I’ve ever eaten but it was also far from the worst and I’d eat there again myself. I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend it to someone like Himself however, because as a very tall, strapping Dutchman with a healthy appetite, he likes a plateful to be a plate full… and if that plate happens to be a pasta dish then a plate and a half would be most welcome no matter what time of the day.

It was certainly a cultural learning curve and reminded me that what visitors expect is not always delivered in Europe.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

April 25, 2015

Take A Little Piece Of Coloured Glass…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Regular readers know that I love stained glass.

Visiting churches and cathedrels in Europe gives me an inside into stained glass from centuries past, some medieval glass remains, others are mostly 18th and 19th century additions.

Then, in the 20th century there are also some very modern additions alongside their ancient counterparts.

The glass in each church is different, the general idea of central panels with figures, each telling a story from the bible is a central theme, as are ornate borders and corner pieces.

There are also small panels that are personal to the area, details pertaining in certain people and dates, sometimes important people in the area or the church and sometimes benefactors.

Sint-Jankathedral (Sint John’s Cathedral) of s-Hertogenbosch (a.k.a. Den Bosch)  is a cathedral that has all of the above. There is amazing detail in the picture windows that tell the various biblical stories. but also in the detail of the surrounding “frames” and the strip along the base of the windows that depicts various coats of arms etc. and in some ways these outer sections fascinate me as much or sometimes even more than the central parts of the windows.

(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)

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(Sint-Janskathedraal) of ‘s-Hertogenbosch

April 24, 2015

The Vines On The Ceiling are Growing On Me…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The roof  of the nave in medieval cathedrals almost defy imagination given their height and decorative elements, especially given that they were all made without the modern tools.

when I visited Sint-Janskathedraal (Sint John’s Cathedral) of ‘s-Hertogenbosch in Noord Braband, there happened to be a wedding taking place at the alter, so I took a seat on the isle and listened whilst the couple took their vows.

Just before that however there was a small sermon by the priests about marriage and during that, I pointed camera skywards as I listened.

With the camera on maximum zoom and being without a tripod, seated, I steady myself by leaning back and being as still as I possibly can take photographs of the ceiling high above me.

I first thought that the enter-twining vine like decoration was a “set” repeating pattern, but once I can see them in more detail I find that each section is unique, even opposite sections are not mirror images as I first assumed.

The wonder of this is that “balance” is still perfectly achieved, nothing is seriously lop-sided and it takes a good long look, or a zoom lens to see that each section is really an individual piece.

I’m assuming that this isn’t the original version of the decoration because the original paint has probably been refreshed and given a new layer with each major renovation that cathedral has undergone.

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sint Johns Den Bosch 1k (Small)

(Sint-Janskathedraal) of ‘s-Hertogenbosch

April 19, 2015

Squeezing The Fun Fair Into Town Is An Art Form…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On my visit to Den Bosch last year I saw something that is a truly uniquely European sight: a fun fair quite literally squeezed into one of the little squares in the centre of town.

The fun fair is called a “kermis” in the Netherlands and the people who run them have turned squeezing in as many attractions as possible into an art form.

My car and sea sickness notoriety extends also to motion sickness on anything like this, so big dippers and swinging arms like these are my idea of hell.

Instead I take photographs of my friend’s toddler on a carousel, which pleases both of us greatly, him for the joy of the ride and me because the painted decoration on the horses, carriages and the carousel itself is stunningly beautiful. The photographs that include him are not posted here for reasons of personal privacy, but I did get some photographs of the carousel horses.  I’m also surprised because this is a double-decker carousel, the first I have ever seen. It’s not busy enough at the moment for the upper level to be open, but there is a small second floor that has a single row of horses around it, and you can see this in a few of my photographs here.

After we have prised my friend’s youngster, several rounds later off the carousel, he makes it clear that he’s ready to advance to more stomach churning rides, none of which are my cup of tea. His parents and their visitor are also game for some giddier action, therefore we discuss our plans for the next hour or so, and since I have seen somewhere else that would delight me to visit,  decide to split up for a little while. They will come and collect me when they have had enough of the fun fair rides.

(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)

April 18, 2015

Getting Exactly What You Paid For, … (Or Didn’t !!!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst Himself and the kids were away last summer, I made a Saturday day trip with some friends to the city of  ‘s-Hertogenbosch  (which translates asThe Duke’s forest”) or, the cities less formal name: “Den Bosch” (which translates as  “The forest”) in the Dutch province of North Brabant.

We have just done one of several boat trips that take visitors through the medieval canals and canal tunnel systems, and exactly opposite the Molenstraat embarkation point  for the boats, there is a curious statue on the wall.

It’s known as the “Half Pear” which translates as “De Halve Peer” in Dutch.

Created by  Ton Bruijn in 1988, the statue is the result of a local controversy. I found a website that contained some rather awkwardly worded Dutch, entitled “Half the truth of d’n whole Pear or … the whole truth of juice half a Pear.

Himself, a translator by trade had a look at the text after I got frustrated reading it and came up with this succinct text that sums this true story up far better than I could (Thanks Sweetie).

Statue  of the half ‘ Peer’. Made by sculptor Ton Buijsters in 1988 it resembles very much Frans Vennix who was carnival mayor of Oeteldonk (den Bosch) from 1976 up to and including 1987. When  a conflict between two  carnival associations ended in a court case the judge, in style, ordered  one association to pay compensation to the other being: one decent barrel of beer and two bottles of Jägermeister. Besides, the judge ordered  them to erect a memorial. However, one association never paid its share and therefore the other decided to erect ‘half a memorial’. Hence this half statue.

Then there is the bronze plaque depicting Jan van der Eerden and Hein Bergé. These men were the driving force behind the restoration and renovation of the Binnendieze inner city canal systems and their tunnels, which have become such a tourist attraction in the city today.

Another piece of  local artwork is a poem on a wall… the shame of it is that the wall is a very pale blue and the text of the poem is in white, so it was even more difficult to photograph than it was to read.

…And yet another wall poem, this time in black text on a light background, was far easier to read.

This is another statue very close by, on the corner of Korenbrugstraat and the Hinthamerstraat. Called “Zoete Lieve Gerritje” (sweet/ gentle little Gerrit)  which depicts a singing woman flanked by a cockerel.  In fact, it turns out that “little Gerrit” was not a woman at all but a man, and not a sweet or gentle one!

He used to steal from the farmers and would celebrate that by taking the stage dressed as a farmer’s daughter. The statue is actually of Gerrit in a woman’s dress.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

De Halve Peer,”

Zoete Lieve Gerritje ”

 

April 17, 2015

Den Bosch, There Seems To Be A Mystery Irish Connection…

Regular readers will know that this is a “find”… another  little metal grate set into the pavement. I have a collection of them because I love the different patterns that different city councils put on to them around the world. This one is located in the streets of the Dutch city of Den Bosch, and intrigued me because it appears to have so many Celtic looking elements in it’s design that it would not looked out of place anywhere in the Emerald Isle.  “Why?”, is a question that I can’t answer but it’s beautiful anyway, and it’s a new addition to my collection.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 16, 2015

After All, …Who Doesn’t Need A Unicorn Over Their Doorway?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The are many Dutch cities that have more than one name.

“The Hague” where I live, has three: ”  ‘s-Gravenhage” is the official, formal and historical city name, “Den Haag” is the shortened, informal but still official name, and “The Hague” is the English translation that is just as widely in use as the other two.

” ‘s-Hertogenbosch “, the city that I am visiting with friends is another city with a shorter, but still official second name: “Den Bosch” and the two are used interchangeably with just as much ease as ”  ‘s-Gravenhage” , “Den Haag” and  “The Hague”. 

This can make things a little confusing at first for foreign visiting tourists, with some signs and logos using one name and others using the other.

One thing I really notice too, is that some provinces in the Netherlands really take pride in their provincial identity, if you go to Zeeland, Friesland or here in Den Bosch which is in the province of Noord-Braband, then you will see their provincial and city flags everywhere. In contrast it’s really rare to see the flag of  The Hague or of my Province of “Zuid Holland” (South Holland) anywhere around the city or province, and I have no idea why that is (except for a wild guess that the yellow and green striped flag of The Hague is simply too boring… or that people will think that the flag bearers are supporters of Ado Den Haag, the city’s not so successful football club who play in a striped uniform in these colours).

Den Bosch has a stunningly beautiful historic centre, there are many modern businesses housed in shops, that by the look of their architectural detail, had very different lives and businesses in the past.

Luckily they have embraced these details,  …after all who doesn’t need a unicorn over their doorway?  The flags that we see dotted all around town contain the emblem of the city, they add a sense that these people are proud of where they live, and a sense of fun and colour. There is a curio / souvenir shop that my friend’s visitor lingers in… whilst she is busy I take photographs of the local scene, everything from cargo bikes (bakfiets) to old fashioned pennyfarthing signs. Let’s take a look…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This building is called the “Moriaan”, it stands on one of the corners of the Markt and dates from the 13th century. It’s also believed to be one of the oldest brick buildings in the Netherlands, originally built for a noble family and it has seen many uses since. Today, the  V. V. V. (city’s tourist office) is located inside the building.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It used to be a cinema, now it’s a national chain shop specialising in cheap clothes and household goods…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hmm, the elephant seems to be a reoccurring theme in the city… I have no clue why, but it’s curious…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Drop dead gorgeous stonework…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… and garlands etched into the glass…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

No clues are given  here as to what the former business was, but the decoration is still beautiful…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This one was formerly a chemist shop (druggist)… complete with unicorn (naturally)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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