Edition 22 March 2018. by Paola Westbeek
Though the Netherlands is not really known for its cuisine – in fact, the Dutch diet has an image of being bland and uninspiring – the country boasts a rich culinary history and has plenty of delicious dishes. Those who argue otherwise, need only to pick up a copy of Dutch Feast, one of the best and most complete cookbooks on Dutch cuisine available to date. Written by Canadian author, blogger and recipe developer Emily Wight (who married into a Frisian family and travelled extensively throughout the Netherlands), the book features 120 easy-to-follow Dutch recipes, both classic dishes and those with a modern twist. Chapters are organized according to meal types, with everything from breakfast to borrels (Dutch appetizers). It includes plenty of tidbits on Dutch culinary history as well as personal anecdotes from the author’s time in the Netherlands, and thus, offers the reader a true understanding of the essence of Dutch cuisine.
There is a handy chapter with a list of the ingredients most used in Dutch cooking as well as one on condiments and preserves such as ‘appelstroop’ (apple syrup), ‘blender peanut sauce’, ‘rosy rhubarb preserve’, ‘garlic mayonnaise’and ‘green sambal’; and even a Christmas chapter with nostalgic holiday recipes such as ‘pepernoten’(tiny spice cookies), ‘bishop’s wine’, ‘Jan Hagel cookies’ and ‘oliebollen’(sweet, donut-like fritters). Not forgotten are the colourful, foreign dishes that have made their way into Dutch cuisine, with an entire chapter dedicated to the popular Indonesian rijsttafel. As the author writes in her introduction, it is time for Dutch food to be given the credit it deserves: “I am a little defensive about Dutch food, partly because, for whatever reason, it has not been given its due internationally. (…) But you can’t really malign a whole country’s cuisine without giving it a fair shake, and there is more to Dutch cuisine than meets the eye. A nation of tall, healthy, happy people does not spring from a gastronomic wasteland.” Dutch Feast is a must, for those interested in Dutch cuisine, and those who question its existence. In essence, however, it is a book for anyone looking to cook wholesome no-fuss dishes made with simple and inexpensive ingredients.