Insights on Food Culture while in the Home of a Dutch Foodie

***Series Summary – In an effort to clarify my personal definition of food culture, I’ve invited a few food forum friends to share stories and recipes on my blog, with the hope of it giving us insight into the culture developed within their own home kitchens.***

 

Hetteke or Het as I know her, has the spitfire personality and humor that I adore. Constantly entertaining, she is also very wise. She may not have a blog, but her posts on the forum are always a great read. 

Netherlands born and raised, Het’s interest in food developed during a time in her childhood where she lived in Ireland Scotland. Now a mother of two living in Rotterdam with her love, she cooks with passion and describes it with even more fervor. 

Het taking a break while enjoying the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham, England with fellow "forumers" June 2011

By Het

The Netherlands is not famous for its food culture. We don’t have many Michelin-Star restaurants and our celebrity chefs are few and far between. Ever since the Americas were discovered, the evening meal here consists of boiled potatoes, overcooked veg and pork chops or meatballs. A gravy with little brown bits in gets people excited in the Flat Countries. Food should be cheap and nourishing, quickly made and even quicker inserted into face. – It’s just there to keep you alive.

After reading this, you might wonder about the title of this blogpost. But I am a Dutch foodie, I truly am. I’ll stand up in a room full of international foodies and pledge: I adore food. I adore tastes, textures, smells. I love cooking, getting my hands stuck in, my kitchen dirty, my oven hot. Food hardly ever scares me off, either for eating or cooking (well, except for making Crème Brule, but everybody needs a recipe that they just can’t master). As a clog wearing (in my youth only, mind you), tulip growing, alas not blonde Dutch woman, where did that come from?

I come from a family of foodies and bakers. My father’s granddad was a baker and he passed on his skills to my dad. As a kid I remember the loaves of bread sitting on the stove, to gently rise. The smell of the baking bread just as I went to bed… My mum came from a family whose fortune had evaporated. They never got used to the poor mans staple diet of potatoes. Instead, her mother chose to rather have a good steak once a week and eat bread all other days, than to have mediocre meals throughout. Perhaps the fact that my parents both grew up in the somewhat French-influenced south of the Netherlands had something to do with their foodie-ness too.

When I was growing up, we had all kinds of foods, [which was] before the big cooks ever dreamed of fusion cooking. Indonesian, Italian, Eastern-European, Spanish, Mexican, Indian cuisine – you name it, we ate it. All parts of all animals were consumed. It turned into a nearly religious experience for my parents: cooking stuff nearly nobody dreamed of cooking (and sometimes quite rightly so). I didn’t enjoy all the tastes, and the pressure on tasting (and liking) everything. Sometimes we had really posh three, four of five courses dinner with endless waiting in between with my mum slaving in the kitchen. On the more joyful occasions, food was nice and not too complicated, the company good and my parents relaxed. Those were the moments I loved and they soaked deeply into my veins.

Now I have my own family, and I am raising foodies too. I don’t do posh dinners. What we regularly do is have people over for meals. I rustle up something nice. It could be lasagna, tapas, a fish dish, a barbecue. When I feel like it, I’ll spend the whole day in the kitchen. But never when the guests are there. Then is the time to relax! We sit round the table, have food, drink our drinks, enjoy each other’s company and just chat about whatever comes to mind. My children love these evenings too. They know that they don’t have to sit at the table endlessly and that they can just enjoy the food and then go off to play. My relaxed attitude during these gatherings usually leaves me with a lot of washing up to do in the morning, but the intimacy shared when sitting around a table and enjoying a lavish meal, chatting away, is more than worth that effort!

Dutch Easter breakfast while in Italy. Food Served: Jewish "matzes", boiled eggs, chocolate eggs etc., and orange juice, freshly squeezed by Het's girls! One of Het's daughters also pictured.

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