By Gresa Rugova 30.09.2018
Food is an aspect of every culture which says a lot about habits, preferences and society. Especially for foreigners this aspect becomes obvious when compared to one’s own culture
The Dutch cuisine has excellent traditional food to offer from Dutch pancakes to pea soup ″Snert″ over the best cheese variety. However, coming from another country always surprises one about food culture.
Germans or Swiss often don’t find Dutch bread that one comes across in supermarkets very appealing due to being fluffy or soggy. But it’s just a matter of taste: many Dutch prefer the soft texture and find the German bread too sour and rich. ″I always buy a lot bread when I go home to Bremen and put it in the freezer here, it is really the only thing missing in Groningen″ states Armin a student from Germany.
Coming from Italy where people usually cook from scratch, an Italian student was baffled in the first weeks in Groningen by the number of menus ready to microwave. ″At first, I was not convinced that these premade microwave meals would taste, but they do now I barely cook anymore″ states Alexander a student from Milan.
Dutch people like gezelligheid (i.e. “cosiness”, “comfort”, fun and generally “togetherness”) and prefer comfort food instead of haute cuisine. If one visits the local markets, you’ll notice that the Dutch love to restock with local vegetables, fish, fruit, cheese, bread and beautiful flowers and often make it a family event on the weekend.
A quick visit to the Rijksmuseum will prove that there was once plenty of passion for great food in this country, and a desire to flaunt it. You only have to look at the stunning old Dutch still life paintings, which were called pronk pieces (to pronk means to show off), to be convinced that the Dutch were proud of their cuisine.
In the 17th century, the Netherlands lost many of its colonial possessions to the British in the Anglo-Dutch wars. This loss of wealth, coupled with a growing population that put pressure on natural resources, meant that a more frugal approach to food had to be taken.
Today, many Dutch chefs are rediscovering traditional dishes and local ingredients and giving them their own, updated twist. Holland is even hip abroad, where Dutch bars and restaurants are favourites among the fast set. In New York a trend restaurant called Vandaag offers Dutch classics such as bitterballen and hete bliksem.
We now live in a time when humble, honest food is once again recognized as a good thing and farmers have become food heroes. The beauty of Dutch cooking lies in its simplicity, with honest-to-goodness comfort foods like root vegetable mash and brown bean soup.
Even though for the ones the bread might be too soft or food in general not spicy enough the Dutch cuisine has great options to offer. As a salesman at Vismarkt states: ″The secret to making simple food soar is to use the best ingredients you can afford. Buy locally-grown, seasonal and organic – and let the ingredients do the talking”