Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dutch people's daily three meals

Many places I traveled to, I have been very much interested in tasting their local food. It is part of their culture and add some spices to my travel memories. Being in the Netherlands, of course I am also interested a lot in adopting some of their food culture. What do Dutch people eat?

I asked this question to a friend of mine last time when we traveled together to Amsterdam in 2003 summer. Her parents emigrated from the Netherlands to the US. It seemed to be a quite tough question. Heineken or Grolsch? They are beers... then maybe potato, or kroket?

I couldn't complained to her since she only traveled to the Netherlands rather than living here long enough. So I have to explore myself, plus the observation of Mr. Awaara from their daily lunch gathering in the office. The major comment of his is, very simple and cold lunch, some people just eat cheese and bread, some drink milk for lunch... sounds terrible to Chinese and Indians. The picture exactly says our differences: we need all meals warm.

I found part of the answer from a blog writing about Dultch culture Hollandring:
The Dutch generally eat three meals a day. Dinner (around 6 pm) is the main meal for most people, but some rural families and older people retain the tradition of eating the main meal at midday. For them, the evening meal is light and often consists of bread, cold cuts, cheese and salad. It is clearly that urban working class doesn't have enough time to cook and have a warm lunch, so their habit is basically like what is showing in the picture.

My friends' potato statement also turns to be true. Also from the hollandring: As indicated in the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh (the aardappeleters, meaning "potato eaters"), the main ingredient in old-fashioned Dutch dinners is potatoes, usually accompanied by meat and boiled vegetables. The Dutch traditionally don't use very sharp spices and are very fond of pouring gravy onto everything. In the market, you can see all kinds of potato. Peeled potato confused me the first time I saw it. It also has peeled potato in cans.

Our program director in US was a Dutch. I remember every time he stop by the lunch room during the lunch time, he would say 'Bon Appétit'. Next time if I invited him for dinner, I should say 'eet smakelijk'. Here is some more eating manner I learned from the same source. This doesn't seem to be consistent with their talking habit. They are very straightforward in conversation.

Washing hands before eating, being on time to the table, and starting to eat at the same moment is important. It is impolite to begin eating before others. A parent or host often indicates when to eat, usually by saying 'eet smakelijk' (pronounces ATE smahk-A-lick), which literally means 'Eat deliciously' but is used in the same as Bon Appétit (enjoy the meal.) It is proper to keep hands above the table (rather than in the lap) but not to rest elbows on the table. The Dutch use the continental style of eating, with the fork on the left and the knife remaining on the right. Forks are not used to eat dessert; small spoons are provided. One does not leave the table until all have finished eating.