Dutch Treats

My online culinary explorations this morning took me to the Netherlands. I visited Amsterdam many years ago, but the only moderately clear food-related memory of that visit revolves around our late-evening arrival. We disembarked the ferry from England and went immediately looking for our hotel. Once there, we sought food. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I seem to recall there were few options available to us nearby. We opted to try the only Tex-Mex restaurant we saw in Holland. It was, in a word, horrid. After that, though, I’m confident we enjoyed decent Dutch meals though, in all honesty, I do not recall what they might have been. All the aforementioned notwithstanding, I have an inexplicable interest in Dutch food this morning. So, I asked Father Google to tell me stories of Dutch meals. He willingly complied, waxing poetic about bitterballen and raw herring and kibbeling and stamppot.

Bitterballen are small round meatball croquettes. Bitterballen comprise one of many mostly-fried snack foods that, collectively, are called bittergarnituur. Bittergarnitur platters typically contain pieces of Gouda cheese, tiny eggrolls, slices of salami, various meatballs, and of course that very special meatball croquet, bitterballen. I have, of course, found multiple recipes for bitterballen, an indication that I will be making the dish before long. According to what I’ve read, bitterballen are the perfect accompaniments to gin and beer; that little tidbit gives me cause to plan not only a meal, but an event!

Though I like the idea of raw herring, I think the likelihood of finding fresh-caught herring in and around central Arkansas is slim to nil. Despite the fact that June ushers in herring season in the Netherlands, June simply attracts oppressive heat in Arkansas. So, I’ll skip raw herring for now. But stamppot, now that will get my attention. I learned that stamppot is a generic term that applies to almost any textured purée made of vegetables. I found one recipe that looks and sounds sufficiently intriguing that I want to try it before long. It calls for six to eight large potatoes, a head of escarole endive sliced into half-inch strips, and salt. Once cooked and mashed, the endive is mixed with the mashed potatoes. Separately, a sauce is made from salt pork, buttermilk, and flour and then poured over the stamppot. This particular recipe is called foeksandijvie.

Oh, about the kibbeling. It is a dish made by frying small pieces of spiced white fish, such as cod, and serving with a dipping sauce of mayonnaise, chopped capers, dill pickle, and fresh chopped parsley. I must try this. Soon. Today would be good, except for the fact that my favorite wife has planned menus for today and the rest of the week. But soon.

I should, for my own recollection as well as to acknowledge the source of some of my knowledge, mention that The Dutch Table was one of the sources I found useful in my quest this morning.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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