As soon as I got off the bike Eelco Kuipers came to open the door and invited me to enter. His wife, Irene Kloosterman, was preparing dinner. That evening they had three guests. Me and two other international students, Shubhra and Roman. This is because we participated in the “Experience Groningen” event, organized for the international students of the city. And one of the activities was to dine with a Dutch family. So here we are. The hosts prepared a typical Dutch dinner for us. And their hospitality made the evening even more enjoyable.
Here’s what the three-course dinner consisted of. All Dutch dishes.
First course: Erwten soep
The first dish was the Erwtensoep: is a thick pea soup. So thick that some say you should be able to leave a spoon standing up in it. It is made from split green peas and other vegetables, such as celery, onions, leeks, carrots and potatoes, plus different cuts of pork. Slices of smoked sausage are added just before serving.
The hosts had also prepared pieces of “Roggebrood”, rye bread, topping with the “Katenspek”, Dutch smoked bacon, to accompany the soup.
Second course: Stamppot and Gehaktballen
The stamppot is a very popular traditional dish of Dutch cuisine. It is mashed potatoes and vegetables (one type of vegetables or several types together). The vegetables traditionally used are sauerkraut, endive, cabbage, or carrots and onions. This last combination is what we ate that evening and is called “Hutspot”. The stamppot is usually served with smoked sausage or stewed meat. We ate it together with meatball.
Dutch meatballs are a little bigger than Italian or American ones. They are associated with “Gezelligheid”, that is intimacy in Dutch, like meal cooked by grandmothers.
Their Dutch name is “Gehaktballen” and they are preferably made with fifty percent beef and fifty percent pork, but they can be also made with all beef.
Third course: Vla
Vla, or Dutch custard, is a typical Dutch dessert. It is made with milk, corn-starch, eggs (not always used), sugar and flavourings. It has the consistency and viscosity between yogurt and pudding and is sold in cartons. It is served cold or at room temperature and there are many different tastes. We tasted the blank one (neutral colour and taste) and vanilla one.
Vla is considered a simple and everyday dessert. People eat it every day after dinner, others only at the weekends.
Hospitality with a red, white and blue heart
To make dinner delicious were not just the dishes. But also the hospitality revealed by the family. They welcomed us into their home with open arms. There was an atmosphere of great cordiality and serenity that made us feel at home. They also invited us for a cup of coffee if we would like to visit them again. So, the Dutch people are friendly even if you do not come from their country. Which is good for international students. Eelco, the host, said “We don’t care where people come from. All persons are at the same level for us. We are all equal”. Kindness is typical of the Dutch as their cuisine.
Other Dutch specialties
These are just some of the typical dishes of Dutch cuisine. Let’s make a list of what you can taste around the Netherlands:
- -“Patatje oorlog”, the Dutch fries
- -“Speculaas”, spiced biscuits
- -“Broodje haring”, a herring sandwich with cucumber and onion
- -“Kibbeling”, a piece of fried fish and served with herb, garlic and lemon mayonnaise
- -“Bitterballen”, fried aromatic beef meatballs
- -“Pannenkoeken”, the typical Dutch pancakes, sweet or salted
- -“Appeltaart”, the Dutch “apple pie”
- -“Poffertjes”, small pancakes covered with butter and powdered sugar
- -“Oliebollen”, balls of dough with the raisin inside, fried in oil.
Ans so on and so forth!
By Emanuela Gianlorenzo