Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Herring in Thy Gullet

A few things I've learned about Dutch cooking:

1) It's weird.
2) Every meal is supposedly a delicious balance between meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Vegetarian alternatives will be offered where available. I hope you like asparagus soup.
3) The Dutch REALLY like baking. They also stick almonds in wherever they possibly can.
4) A lot of traditional Dutch cooking was kept secret until after the wars due to Calvinist influence. Before the 1950's it was a "secret cuisine" and is only recorded in handwritten notebooks, which are now very valuable.

The weirdest tradition, I have to say, is that of eating matjes... That's a whole herring fresh from the catch. It's raw, but at least it's gutted.

My father demonstrates the proper method of eating matjes. Full points for form, but I'm pretty sure that herring's pickled.

And when I said I would be refusing challenges, I would like to clarify that I still plan to meet my own secret challenge of a pie for every season. This gruesome thing is strawberry rhubarb pie... soup.

A fairly simple recipe, just taken from the Joy of Cooking. If that book tells you anything, it's how to make a good pie. I don't even have any tips, other than when it says to use a rubber spatula, USE a rubber spatula. I almost didn't because it sounded absurd, but it was actually very helpful.

I used a recipe that uses both butter and shortening, which makes the crust both delicious and easy to work with. I believe it was "flaky pastry dough," which is not to be confused with "deluxe flaky pastry dough."

'Tis all! I'm off to enjoy a picnic on the lawn at the Grand River Baroque Festival. Check it out for next year.


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