My husband’s birthday has rolled around once again. Last time I made him food from the country of his choice (he chose Lebanon), but this year I thought it would be nice to make something from his native land of The Netherlands – even if it is currently the week before his birthday that I am making this meal because we’re visiting his family on his actual birthday.
Being married to someone Dutch gives me a much more different perspective on Dutch food compared to other countries that I am doing for the list. Where for countries like Jordan I have ended up making special occasion dishes because that’s all I could find online, for the Netherlands I have experienced enough time in the country and with their food to have an idea of what to make that is actually commonplace.
I could have conformed to some of the stereotypes of Dutch food and made pancakes, much like how I made waffles for Belgium, but the dessert I picked is something I have never seen outside of the Netherlands and yet is so ubiquitous there that it’s in every supermarket and my husband says he’s never had it not from a carton. Similarly, I could have made some of the delicious Dutch snack foods like bitterballen, kroketten, kaassoufflé’s or frikandellen. However, I wanted to make something more homely that would be in the same family of warming one pots like stamppot.
Okay for the picture makes this soup look awful, but I did it to prove a point. There is a thing in the Netherlands that Erwtensoep (also known as Snert) has to be thick enough that a spoon can stand up in it. The one I made was thick enough to do this whist it was still bubbling. This is how thick this Dutch pea soup has to be before it is served, which makes it one of those weird foods that is spreadable and yet is still a soup.
This is actually a recipe of my own by now, even if I haven’t made it for a very long time, which makes it one of the few Dutch foods that I actually know how to make. The main ingredient is green split peas, which is surprisingly hard to find in the UK supermarkets. You then add in onion, carrot, leek and celeriac which is all mashed once cooked. It also includes pork (that has been cooked to the point of disintegration) and smoked sausage.
If you wasn’t something that is perfect for a cold January day, then this really is the soup for you. I have an older version of this recipe on my old food blog if you want to give it a go.
I really love vla. It’s something you see shades of outside of the Netherlands, but never quite the same thing. I mean its closest relative is custard, but it’s still not quite the same. It’s like how cream and yogurt are similar but different. With vla, you have the regular version which is the yellow vanilla flavoured one, but also a bunch of other flavours that exist in cartons.
Then there’s a special combination of regular and chocolate flavours that can be found in the Netherlands known as dubbelvla – which is what I tried to make today by cooking both types of vla (following this recipe) and then having them in the same bowl. According to my husband, this tasted exactly right, in fact he said the chocolate one tastes better than the shop bought version. Talk about a triumph. As for me, I regret never looking into making this before. It’s super easy and, once completely chilled, makes for a delicious dessert.
With our pilgrimage to the Netherlands next week there will be a break in my making of national foods. Next time will be something from the Caribbean as I attempt to make something from the Bahamas. I just wanted to have that flag in my life, got to find the recipes to back it up now!