The ASO, organizer of the Tour de France, chose Rotterdam because, in addition to it being another big city, like London, to showcase the use of bikes for urban transportation, it provides a location well positioned considering the rest of the 2010 route.
The start in Rotterdam will be the fifth Tour de France start in the Netherlands.
I have never been to the Netherlands and have no real knowledge of Dutch food. Oliebollen, a deep fried pastry dusted with powdered sugar, is my only experience of Dutch food.
Many of the Dutch food traditions come from the availability of the food, historically. Much of Holland is farmland so there are a lot of potato and onion dishes. A regular normal every day Dutch household dinner would be : potatoes (boiled), meat and (boiled)veg. Very Dutch would be cauliflower with a white sauce with nutmeg.
A popular dinner dish is ertwensoep, also called snert. It is usually served in winter, either as an appetiser or a main meal. Ertwensoep has a thick consistency and often includes pieces of pork and smoked sausage, and is almost a stew rather than a soup.
Stamppot a mixture of potato and vegetables boiled and mashed together is a traditional winter meal. Often crispy lardons/bacon/pancetta is added. It is served with either a good smoked sausage or stewed meat called draadjesvlees.
Popular stamppot combinations
- potato with curly kale, bacon/smoked sausage - gravy
- potato - endive - bacon
- potato - carrot - onion. This is called 'hutspot'. It is a traditional and historical dish eaten on October 3rd to celebrate the liberation of the city of Leiden from the Spanish during the 80-year war in the 16th century.
Some stamppotten have funny names like
- ' blote billetjes in het gras' (naked buttocks in the grass) which is potato-stringbean-white beans (you see the cute bums (white beans) in the grass(stringbeans)
- ' hete bliksem' (hot lightning) with potato-apples-onion.
Herring (haring in dutch). Hollandse nieuwe, the fresh new herring of the season, is served with a glass of Korenwijn, a special Dutch drink, a type of Dutch gin.
Gibbing, the process of preparing soused (salted) herring, was developed by the Dutch in the Middle Ages. The soused herring known in the Netherlands as, maatjesharing, is an especially mild salt herring made from young immature herrings. The herrings are ripened for a couple of days in oak barrels in a salt brine.
We are all familiar with the well known Dutch cheeses Gouda and Edam. Gouda cheese is named after the city of Gouda in the South Holland region, but as the name is not protected, gouda cheese can come from anywhere in the world.
The term 'Noord-Hollandse Gouda' is registered in the EU as a protected geographical status. Gouda is the TYPE of cheese , and ' noordhollands' is the protected name for cheese made in the north-holland area according to certain standards. The taste of this cheese differs from regular gouda (again, the type) it's more full, creamy and slightly sweeter.
Besides cheeses, Gouda is famous for its candles and 'stroopwafels' (syrup waffles).
Other well known cheeses are from the regions
- Friesland flavoured with cloves
- Leiden cumin flavoured
- Limburg Limburger cheese, a washed rind, soft cheese with an intense smell.
Dutch apple pie Many countries have their own special apple pie. The Dutch have been making their own special version of the apple pie for centuries. A Dutch painting dated 1626, depicts the pie as having a diamond pattern made with strips of dough. Try as I may, even asking my expert friends Janet and Megan I cannot trace the actual painting.
A popular Dutch dessert is a Griesmeel pudding made from semolina and served with a sauce made from berries.
Boerenjongens (meaning farmerboys), raisins in brandy, and boerenmeisies (meaning farmergirls), apricots in brandy, are a traditional Dutch treat. They can be eaten as a sweet or used as a topping.
One other very Dutch treat is 'poffertjes'. These are small fluffy pancakes (size of a large coin, or a small blini), freshly baked in a poffertjespan and served with lots of butter and icing sugar.
The Dutch invented the process known as Dutch Process chocolate, where chocolate has been treated with an alkalizing agent. It forms the basis for much of modern chocolate and is used in ice cream, baking and hot cocoa. Earlier this year David Lebovitz posted the differences between Dutch process and natural cocoa powder.
Despite its name, Hollandaise Sauce, a key ingredient in Eggs Benedict, is not a Dutch creation. There are several explanations to its name. One, it is said to be named from a sauce which was like a Dutch Sauce made for the state visit to France of the King of the Netherlands. Alternatively it earned the name because it contained fine butter and good eggs which Holland was known for producing.
I asked Mickey if the Dutch shared any foods with bordering countries. She mentioned several food shared with Belgium - Brussels chicory, Brussels sprouts, eels (although the Dutch prefer it smoked),white asparagus (served with boiled potato, boiled egg, good ham and melted butter) and French Fries.
Except for Indonesian foods, traditional Dutch foods have not been influenced by immigration. It is normal in Dutch families to make a large pan of nasi or bami once a week. Chinese food in restaurants is often more Indonesian than Chinese. Most cafes and bistros will have sateh on the menu. In the sixties Italian and pasta dishes began to appear.
The Dutch had colonies in the Caribbean as well: the Dutch Antilles and Aruba, and Surinam. Because many people from there moved to Holland, there are some of their influences in Dutch food also. Surinam takeaways are a regular sight, mainly in the bigger cities
For more information on Dutch food, sorry only in Dutch, go to http://www.vandeboer.nl/
I could not find any food traditional to Rotterdam, so I have a Pea soup recipe for you. Mickey's description is better than anything I could offer. "a winter tradition, but also a feeling of those nostalgic, cold winters when one can go ice skating. It's not just a soup, its a meal, its a feeling. It makes me feel good and connected to all the grandmothers who know how to cook, if I make a large pan of pea soup".
ERTWENSOEP Traditional Dutch Split Pea Soup (Visit the About.com sight for recipe)
* Mickey says it isn't necessary to puree the soup, the peas will fall apart and thicken the soup all by themselves! Stirring is enough. The soup profits from long simmering and is definitely much better the day after you made it!
The herb 'celery', which in Holland you can buy in bunches at the supermarket, is important in the soup, and is added extra next to the celery stalks and celariac.
Please visit My Kitchen Treasures tomorrow for Stage 2