Tag Archives: netherlands

World Cooking – The Netherlands

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: The Netherlands
Progress: 68/193

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.

Main: Erwtensoep

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.

Dessert: Dubbelvla

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!

Efteling!

As of writing this, I have been with my husband for well over nine and a half years. This has meant more trips to the Netherlands than I can count. First to see him and then to see the in-laws. I mention this because it has taken him this long to take me here:

Efteling, the largest and most popular theme park in the Netherlands is only about an hour away from his family! I have been hearing about this place from him for AGES. How it was one of the big influences on Disney Parks. How well they do the fairytale settings. How much I would enjoy it. So here we are finally.

As you can see from the pictures, it was a bit of a grey day when we visited. However, the clouds and the eventual rain cannot takeaway from what is a fantastically themed park. Everything in the park is done in the style of a fairy tale, folk tale or legend. The highest concentration of this can be found in the park’s famed Fairy-tale Forest.

Through animatronics, sculpture work and proper re-tellings, the Fairy-tale Forest brings a huge and varied number of fairy tales to life. Some of these pieces, like the character of Long Neck from the Six Servants tale, have become hugely famed across the Netherlands. You could easily spend at least an hour going through and seeing all the different stories being brought to life… but then there’s rides.

Whilst I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an adrenaline junkie – I really enjoyed the roller-coasters in Efteling. The vertical plummet of Baron 1898 roller-coaster really sticks out at the major wow moment for me, but I also really had fun on the duelling Joris en de Draak roller-coaster and the water-coaster themed around the legend of the Flying Dutchman (how apt, right?).

It really was a fun day out. Aside from the coasters there was a great rapids ride called Piraña (the first such ride outside of the US when it was built in 1983) as well as a substantial number of dark rides. Our first and final rides of the day were on two of these rides and really helped to bookend the day.

The first was Carnival Festival, the Dutch take on Disney’s ‘It’s A Small World’ and had music that still gets caught in my husband’s head to this day. The final ride,  Droomvlucht (meaning Dream Flight in English), was one that he was really itching to show me. It’s a suspended dark ride through the fairy and troll worlds, which is really cute and quite creepy at times.

Between Efteling and Europa Park I have remembered fully just how much I love amusement parks. The fact that we did not have enough time in Singapore to check out Universal Studios just means that a return visit is not out of the question (as if it ever was). Taking this into account, I feel that this would the perfect opportunity to start yet another list on here. Nothing too serious, but something that could be fun to see fill out over the next few decades.

List Item: Visit 25 Amusement Parks
Progress: 13/25

Technically there should be an additional park on this list (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay), but as I don’t remember going it isn’t being counted.

The Great E.U. Quest – The Starting Point

List Item: Visit all EU countries
Progress: 12/28

I am a very lucky person in a number of ways. Despite being the child of a single mother (who is the best mum a guy can ask for) we still managed to have the most amazing holidays. I still can not quite believe how many different countries I have under my belt at the age of 24.

This particular bucket list item is a curious one since it is another that has a potential to be completed and then become incomplete within my lifetime. The item being to visit every country within the European Union.

Europe Visited - 1

The map (see above) shows how far I have gotten so far (although due to scaling there is no way to see Malta but for this exercise it should be a yellow colour since I haven’t seen it).

So far I have had the privilege of visiting 12 of the current E.U. nations and they are coloured in as blue on the map, something that struck me immediately is how all the countries I have been to are linked together on the map; except for Portugal since I have not been to Spain yet.

At some point in the future I will write about visiting each one when I am up to date with all the items I have already since I did promise proof. But for now I am writing this to officially class this item as being in progress.

If you have any suggestions of trips I should make to help cross off some of the remaining 16 E.U. nations (Spain, Ireland, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg) I would love to hear from you since I have yet to book a holiday for this year :-D.