I decided to make a thread about Dutch food, because internationally there are so many misconceptions about it.
Supposedly our food is bland, repetitive and uninteresting. Talking about Dutch food usually conjures up images of cheese, potatoes, sad vegetables and mashed potatoes. Maybe if we're lucky someone will think positively about Stroopwafels or the aformentioned cheese ( stroopwafels are Dutch syrup cookies).
But there really IS much more to Dutch cooking, and it's not all bland at all. When you look further back into history, it certainly is no longer bland.
Remember the VOC (Dutch east Indian trading company) etc? We were not known for our spice trade for no reason, back in the day spices were very important to Dutch cooking.
What also should speak for us and our food, is that we're one of the largest food exporting countries in the world. Let that sink in! Almost everyone has eaten some Dutch food before, they just probably didn't know it was Dutch. If it was truly so bad, why does everyone want our stuff?
So why do we have the reputation that we have bland food?
Well, first and foremost reason is the rise of Calvinism. A religious protestant sub group, that condemns anything decadent as sinful. It preaches sobriety and minimalism, and spices were considered a decadent form of waste as back in the day spices were expensive and considered a luxury. And you don't NEED spices to eat food, according to the Calvinist mindset. A saying from that era reads 'Zuivel op zuivel is het werk van de Duivel' (dairy on dairy is the work of the devil) referring to a sandwich with cheese AND butter. That was already considered too indulgent by the Calvinists. They gave rise to the culture of minimalism when it comes to food that is still prevalent in Dutch conservative circles. That is why the cheese sandwich is still our most common lunch meal.
What also played a role is the Huishoudschool (household school) that was created in the 19th century to teach middle class and higher class ladies how to run a household. These women used to have staff, but as staff became rare and expensive they had to learn how to cook for themselves. At the time, Calvinism was prevalent and thus the ladies were told to cook without spices. As responsible wives, they should not waste their husbands money on pleasures like spices and alcohol. At that time it was also commonly believed that food was healthier if it was cooked longer, hence the reputation of Dutch mothers boiling vegetables to mush.
Unfortunately, the household schools lasted until the 60's, which is why Dutch mothers are still seen cooking this way to this day. It's only from the 70's onward, that women were starting to learn to cook differently.
Plus, after the second world war the resources in the Netherlands remained scarse until about 1960, so there wasn't much room for spicing up your food or making it interesting. All this led to a perfect storm of bland food in our culture.
But it wasn't always like that.
The goal of this thread is to delve back in time, and show what Dutch food is good and great . I will post recipes, photos and history tidbits, so you might change your mind about how bland and boring we Dutch really are!
And if you have a contribution, please post about it. It will be fun to watch this thread grow!