When travelling abroad, many of us look forward to trying the speciality cuisines as much as we do to seeing the local sights. Here are four of our must-tries when visiting the Netherlands:
PEA SOUP (Erwtensoep/Snert/Green Porridge)
In the colder months nearly every house prepares its own version of pea soup. Split-green peas have been cultivated in the Netherlands for many centuries, and back when most people lived in rural areas it became a winter staple – embellished with whatever ingredients were to hand. Today, cuts of slow-cooked pork or cured bacon are the most popular choices. It’s said that the soup is best left to thicken overnight and is ready only once a teaspoon can stand unsupported in the pan!
The earliest known recipe for apple pie was printed in the UK in 1381. In the 1540s it started to become popular in Holland too, in two slightly different versions:
*Applkruimeltaart, with a sweet, crunchy, crumb-style topping
*Appeltaart, with a lattice pastry topping
Both versions have a crisp pastry base and are deep-filled with crunchy apple chunks bound with sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon; although raisins or almond paste are sometimes added too. It is usually served with whipped cream.
Cheese making has taken place in the Netherlands since the 12th century and today, its export value alone is worth over €7 billion. Holland’s flat landscape and the abundance of waterways lends itself to lush open pasture: perfect for cheese production, as government regulation dictates Dutch cheese can only be made from pasture-fed milk.
The semi-hard cheese ‘Gouda’ reigns supreme, accounting for around half of the country’s total cheese production – and is one of the oldest cheeses in the world. The city of Gouda sometimes holds re-enactments of ancient cheese markets, where large round cheeses are wheeled out in ancient hand barrows and sold using a series of hand claps and shouts.
Stroopwafels (syrup waffles) are considered the national biscuit. These circular treats comprise a round waffle split in two while warm, then sandwiched back together with a sweet caramel made from brown sugar, syrup, butter and cinnamon. They were invented in the early 19C, when it was reputed that bakers used to melt down left over crumbs. The first documented maker is Gerard Kamphuisen, who owned a shop between 1810 and 1840.
Here’s the trick…
Place one over a hot beverage for a couple of minutes – this will warm it through and melt the caramel, making it extra sticky!