Traditional Finnish food and Dutch traditional food have a lot in common being mostly based on potatoes and roots. However in cooking style it is wildly different. This is because Dutch people have not many traditions to begin with. We easily adapt to other cuisines. First French, than Italian and Chinese and nowadays simply everything goes. What comes from afar is enjoyable is a popular saying in the Netherlands.

Erwtensoep

Pea soup

 

However the Dutch never left their basic winter food. As the Finns we make pea soup, not just with peas, but with makkara, pork or bacon in it. Every year we have a world championship of pea soup (we call it snert by the way), and every year a Dutch person wins. Mostly those winners come from the Northern provinces where they kind of specialize in this kind of cooking.

 
 Dutch pea soup (snert)

 

Boerenkool

Stamppot

 

Another Dutch speciality is stamppot. Stamppot is mostly a 50/50 mix of cut potatoes and a cabbage (red, white, savoy, lehtikaali). Cooked until the potatoes are ready and then mashed in chunks, but not smoothly like a perunamuusi. The chunkiness gives it an extra dimension. Salt and pepper are usually added after the mashing. Stamppot is usually served with a good cooked or grilled sausage. Traditionally we also add gravy (you know the left over fat after you fried something), but leaner tastes have made the use of gravy gone out of fashion. Special dishes in this category are Zuurkool (Hapankaali) and boerenkool (Lehtikaali).

Lehtikaali stamppot with sausage and bacon pieces

 

Hutspot with sausage and a hole filled with gravy.

Hutspot

 

Hutspot is a special stamppot in the sense that it is not made of cabbage. Instead the cabbage is replaced by chunks of carrot and onion. So it means 50% potatoes, 25% carrots and 25% onions. Hutspot is a popular dish in the Netherlands because it is easy to make. The city of Leiden has every year a traditional hutspot party. It commemorates the end of the siege of Leiden by the Spanish forces in 1574. As the story goes the town got so hungry that they were about to give up when suddenly the Spanish forces withdrew. What they found outside the wall was a kettle with hutspot and ever since they eat that with herring and Jenever (A wodka like strong drink). It's noteworthy that hutspot at the time did not contain potatoes. This dish still had to be discovered in a far away country called Peru (you don't call here “peruna” for nothing). The Spanish brought it to Europe after their conquest of the Inca empire and it has been a major source of food in Europe ever since.

Hutspot with sausage and a hole filled with gravy.

 

Bacon slices

Bacon

 

As a nice addition it is customary, but not required, to take a separate pan and fry small bacon pieces in their own fat. The bacon pieces are nowadays to be found everywhere in Finnish supermarkets. Fortunately, because this was not the case ten years ago. When the bacon pieces sizzle in their own fat, they become nicely crunchy. We throw the fat away and mix the bacon with the stamppot after smashing the potatoes. Put less salt than normally. The bacon is already salty enough. Pepper according to taste.

So, this was my first introduction to the delights of the Dutch kitchen. You will find that it has a lot to offer and that in many ways it fits nicely with Finnish tastes and traditions. Hint: Combine the best of both worlds by making Karjalan paisti and stamppot. More about this later.

Bacon slices

 

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Last week I wrote about a "I am sorry" program and "Extreme makeover – home edition". But no makeover program is so extreme as to make over yourself.The BBC had such program (actually it was introduced before the home edition), but it was less popular than the home edition. This I found somewhat encouraging. Apparently people are rather happy with themselves and don't feel the need to be transformed into a freak. Nevertheless freaks, there are and always will be. So you can transform yourself into a barbie doll if you want to. No problem. I just switch the channel. Gordon Ramsey is actually more fascinating to me. Underneath that cover of shouting and cursing he actually tries to help. Or does he? I never got insight in what he achieved. Sources on the internet say that at least 3 people on his various shows committed suicide. But it is hard to point the finger at him. Most people he visits are already on their way down. Some for other reasons than just business. And when can you say that things went right? That leaves us guessing. The only experimental observation we can have is how a hotel does after Finland's own Ramsey Jyrki Sukula comes to visit. In Forssa he has visited Hotelli Maakunta. I am curious what effect it will have. You can see it for yourself on 19 november on Nelonen. In the mean time before I go to sleep I imagine.......

A kitchen nightmare and a dream gone

hells-kitchenWe are in restaurant “L'ambroise”. The cook is a serious fellow who likes to serve only the best to his customers. Unfortunately they don't seem to appreciate that. The restaurant is failing. Slowly, but surely the curtains are drawn. He can't understand it. He imports only the freshest fish from Paris. He uses the best foie gras, scallops, escargot. Why is there no one in Britain who appreciates that? Gordon to the rescue! He looks at the menu and finds it overly complicated. Too many notes (eeeh French terms). Try to sell that in the English country side! Gordon has the cure. We call the restaurant “Maggie O'Reilly's” and start serving food from local produce. No foie gras! Steak and kidney pie instead. The cook looks sour. His delicate taste is obviously upset. Nevertheless, he asked for advice and now he got it. He swallows his pride and the restaurant makes to a turn around. It works, but the dream is gone. After a few years the cook quits his business to work again for someone else in a restaurant where the customer appreciates fine cooking.

A kitchen from hell, hell, hell, hell........

You have a hotel which is failing. The customers are not happy with the food. In fact one threw a plate of soup in a waiters face after finding several hairs in there. These things are not supposed to happen. Bad publicity. So you decide that your employees need some shock therapy in order get something changed. You decide to bring in Gordon Ramsay. If he can't provoke change in your employees with his f-words who can? Sounds like a plan. Not much later Gordon appears on the scene. Which freak is cooking the potatoes? Why was this order not taken in time? Why is the waiter standing there like a statue instead of taking care of the guests? Before you know it he has two cooks throwing Crêpe Suzette at each other, and a third watching them while her steaks are burning. It turns out that the chef cook has a drinking problem and his wife is having affair with the head butler. After all shouting and screaming you decide to fire about 90% of them and start afresh. Business is improving you are doing well. A few years later this episode is aired again on TV. You find that your customers are suddenly disappearing. You make a desperate attempt to win them back. Direct marketing, discount offers. Business is improving once more. You are doing well until the episode is aired once more. It was such a successful episode! The broadcaster gets always a lot of viewers and advertisers after that. Your heart begins to sink. After such a long time, no matter how much your hotel has improved, this will haunt you!! Forever, and ever, and ever.

Extreme makeover

em_jeloYou need new tits. Come to think of it. New lips might also be good. And while you are at it a nose correction otherwise your eyes look weird. Your bum is definitely too big and with that stomach you never get a boyfriend. Your hairdo is out of date. Your shoes look like these wooden ones imported from Holland. Your clothes are terrible and worn. Your glasses make you look silly. In general, your sense of fashion stinks. In fact you are an ugly country bumpkin, but only Gordon Ramsey would probably have said so if only he had an eye for that. So there you go! No hesitation allowed! Total extreme makeover!! First you see the plastic surgeon. He will start with the implants first. That's a routine matter nowadays. He will also redesign you face. That takes a bit longer, but you need to recover from the first surgery before you can enter another. He asks what you would like to look like. You stop to think it over. Barbie? Too blond! Kim Kardashian? Too thin face! Madonna? Out of date! You settle for Jennifer Lopez. And so the rebuilding begins. After lying in hospital for almost a year and feeling like a boxing bag that is pummeled to death you can finally enjoy your new self. Now it is time for the beauty specialist. New hairdo, new finger nail polish, bags of cream on your still healing skin. The fashion specialist has burned your clothes in the mean time. She takes you to Milan to fit your new self into new clothes and shoes. When you look into the mirror you hardly recognize yourself. The clothes are nice. Yet over time they become less fashionable, and you are not able to replace them with your average kind of salary. The shoes, the bag and other things you got become a bit worn. You go to average fashion shop again to buy average kind of clothes. And then out of the blue you suddenly start not to feel well. What's wrong? You go to the doctor and he tells you that one of your implants has started to burst. In no time your breast have shrivelled into nothingness. Corrective surgery is very expensive and the TV program that helped you does not recognize your name any more. In your job, where being presentable is everything, you are suddenly nothing. You sit at home. Take a look in the mirror and know you are in deep shit.

 

(note all these stories are inspired by real series, but are not factual descriptions of what happened there)

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