Monday, March 28, 2011

Broodjes: The Dutch Sandwich

Sign offering 30
different sandwiches
I just finished reading this month's issue of Saveur, a high quality magazine dedicated to all things food. It is one of my favorite monthly reads, with articles that focus on eats from all over the world, exotic recipes within reach and writers that offer great cultural backgrounds on dishes, traditions and tools. This month's cover boasts "90 Handheld Meals From Around The Globe" and an article about "World's Best Breads and Condiments": it's the Sandwich Issue. 
 
With the huge variety on sandwiches (broodjes) and bread toppings we have in Holland, I was convinced we would be mentioned at least in one, if not in both articles. After all, the sandwich plays such an important role in the Dutch food culture that there are not one but two national Tastiest Sandwich of the Year competitions. Holland, or the Netherlands, is one of the largest bread consumers of Europe. Many a tourist, when stepping inside a Dutch bakery, grocery store or sandwich shop, is surprised by the large amount of bread varieties and toppings to choose from. But for a country where two out of three meals mainly consist of bread, the variety is not so much an option as a necessity.

Broodje shrimp
Sandwiches are therefore par for the course. Many people bring lunch from home in a small lunchbox or eat at a neighborhood sandwich shop or the company's cafetaria. A typical Dutch lunch will consist of a whole wheat sandwich with cheese or meat, a white sandwich with a sweet topping and a piece of fruit or a small yogurt to round off the meal. Boring? Not with all the choices one has to spruce up a slice of bread!

Did they cover the bread toppings? I wondered. Well, heck, how can you not? Whole grocery store aisles are dedicated to just that, ranging from sweet to savory and anything inbetween. "I bet you they featured mice" I thought, those crunchy sugar-coated anise seeds that resemble the shape of rodents, with their little tail pointing upward. Or maybe coconut bread topping, those thin sheets of hot pink coconut paste that so many of us loved when we were young.


Chocolate hail and flakes
 But that might be too exotic. Maybe they played it safe and only covered the chocolate hail and the flakes. Or the fruit hail, jellybellies, pink or blue mice. Or maybe they didn't cover sweet at all, maybe they only featured savory spreads. A broodje oxen wurst perhaps, or filet americain, pickled liverwurst, raw herring, shrimp, frikandel, warm sliced meat, or kroket? Broodje bal? Smoked eel?

Or perhaps a cheese sandwich? But which cheese? Gouda, Edam, graskaas, meikaas, Old Amsterdam, Maaslander, Parrano, Westland or Waddenkaas? My head was spinning just thinking about all the different options and I felt bad for those Saveurders who would have to try and make sense out of all of this.

The Dutch Uitsmijter
But guess what? Not a word. Not one mention of hail, halfom or herring. Not even a hint on Holland's Sandwich of all Sandwiches, the Uitsmijter. I went through the magazine twice, just to make sure I didn't miss it by accident. The closest we came is the mention of a Dutch crunch roll on page 46, which is supposed to resemble a tiger roll.

It's a little bit our own fault ofcourse. We don't half brag about our food like other countries do and it's almost like we're too humble to mention it. But maybe it's not that we're too humble, perhaps we just don't know where to start!

So to set things straight, and to get our fabulous Dutch food on the map after all, I'm suggesting these additions.

Global Sandwiches Agenda (pg 18)
On June 11, Holland celebrates Luilak, a centuries old tradition predominantly popular in the northern part of the country. Youngsters mock late sleepers and try to prevent anybody from sleeping in on this Saturday morning by ringing doorbells, honking car horns and tying pots and pans to the back of their cars and bicycles and making a huge racket. Bakers prepare luilakbollen, a sweet round roll with raisins and currants, as a specialty for the day. Whomever wakes up last is supposed to treat the family to luilakbollen.

Zebras
Regional Rye Breads (pg 36)
Rye bread is one of Holland's favorites bread choices. The sturdy, coarse slices of roggebrood are used as sandwich covers (wheat bread on the bottom, sandwich topping in the middle and roggebrood on top) or for those pretty, tasty breadbites called zebras: alternate layers of softened cream cheese flavored with fresh chives between moist slices of rye bread.

Friesland's roggebrood is darker and is made with whole rye kernels, Brabant's and Limburg's roggebrood is made with rye flour instead and not as dense. Split-pea soup is traditionally accompanied by slices of roggebrood.


Give Us Bread (pg 46)
Dutch Crunch, or tiger rolls
Thirty breads from all over the world grace these two pages but no Dutch loaf made it onto the list. What about our tiger roll, Frisian sugar loaf, white rolls, raisin rolls, casino bread, Waldkorn.......there are too many to mention! We're so bread-happy in Holland, it's hard to choose. See for yourself how many varieties there are, even per province: http://www.brood.net/default.asp?id=851&pid=streekbrood

Sandwich City (pg 48)
The magazine covered the city of Philadelphia, but it could have easily chosen Amsterdam instead. Home to a large variety of sandwich shops, Amsterdam can also brag about having the largest variety of sandwich toppings that are unique to the city: broodje halfom ( a white roll with two slices of Dutch pastrami and four slices of thinly sliced liver sandwich meat), broodje osseworst (a raw oxen meat sausage, cold smoked, and spiced with salt, white pepper, nutmeg and mace), broodje kroket (either Van Dobben or Kwekkeboom), broodje Sal Meyer, broodje warm vlees.....The list goes on.

Special Treats (pg 52)
This is the spot for all those sweet Dutch bread toppings! Hagelslag, gestampte muisjes, vruchtenhagel, schuddebuikjes.....

Classic Combination (pg 54)
Ah....the all too famous combo of ham and cheese. The French have their Croque Monsieur and the Dutch have their Uitsmijter. Two slices of bread, butter, ham, cheese and two fried eggs on top. A little bit of lettuce, some pickles and a tomato on the side, this open-faced sandwich is the Kingwich under the sandwiches. Traditionally a lunch item, and fancy enough to be eaten with knife and fork, the uitsmijter gained its name from being served as a "one for the road" after a night of partying. In order to indicate that the night was over, the host would get busy in the kitchen and prepare ham, cheese and fried egg sandwiches and send everybody on their way. Uitsmijter literally means "throw out".

Nuts about It (pg 60)
Where is a mention of the ubiquitous peanut butter and chocolate hail Dutch sandwich? A standard for all kids, and many adults, the combination of salty peanut butter and sweet chocolate is sheer heaven. Bet Elvis never had one of those!

Finishing Touches (pg 76)
What better than a lick of appelstroop on a cheese sandwich......the slightly tart flavor combined with a dense sweetness, Appelstroop, a thick syrup made from reduced apple juice and sugar, is a staple in the Dutch kitchen. Its tangy, sweet flavor adds dimension to sandwiches, is used to flavor meat stews such as zuurvlees and is the number one choice of topping for those big cartwheel-sized Dutch pancakes.

Nevertheless, Saveur's Sandwich issue was a good one. Wonderful sandwich ideas, great pictures, lovely breads and educational articles.....enough for this little Dutch girl to sit and savor each page!

10 comments:

  1. Dear Nicole, you bring a smile on my face. Do not worry, we know we have got the best bread and toppings for it and I guess that is enough.
    By the way you are missing the peanut butter sandwich with cucumber (i never stopped eating those, even made gazpacho during the EHEA height:-))
    And never, ever bring your guest bread from the V&D, it is horrible
    Regards
    Judith
    Amsterdam zuidoost

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  2. Judith, thank you for the kind comment. I forgot about the peanut butter, cucumber and a lick of sambal.....yummm!! Say hello to Zuid-Oost for me, I lived in Reigersbos for several years.....still think about the food at Lucky Garden and that small Surinamese toko underneath the overpass, awesome roti!

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  3. It's strange, but of all the food I miss the most here in the USA, it's probably Frisian black rye bread that tops the list. The "Andersons" chain of stores sells a good dark rye, but it's not quite the same.

    So yes, my favourite sandwich: black rye bread, thin lick of horseradish sauce, thinly sliced pastrami, (2+ months) aged Gouda. Dill pickle optional. Drizzle with warm extra virgin olive oil if you will - I usually don't but it's worth trying out.

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  4. Nicole, you wouldn't happen to have a Friesian rye bread recipe??? I would love to make it myself and have been looking for years for a recipe that tastes the same. I've tried several, but have failed miserably. Ugh. I was soooo excited when I found your blog! I tried out your breakfast cake recipe, it was spot on!!! I was jumping up and down! I make it every week! My kids and daycare kiddos LOVE this with butter and Gouda cheese. It's the best!
    I can't thank you enough for sharing all these great Dutch staples with the rest of us!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Saskia! I do have a recipe but have not yet been able to work it out the way I want it to, it's too fickle and I get different test results. As soon as I am back, I am going to work on it again, so stay tuned!

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    2. http://allrecipes.nl/recept/138/roggebrood.aspx hello nicole maby this is an original recipe of ROGGEBROOD (rye bread)
      you need to translate because it is in dutch..but maby it can help you figure it out ..greetz from fryslan, the netherlands......jolanda zuidema

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  5. Does any one know the way to preparer he Dutch liver for the famous sandwich
    .

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    Replies
    1. Tamara, you may want to try OldJink's site http://oldjinks.blogspot.com/p/oldjinkss-recepten.html. If not, we'll have a go at it ourselves and keep you posted!

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    2. Jinks's broodje halfom..

      https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=795f85cdf7d72822&sc=documents&uc=1&id=795F85CDF7D72822!657#!/view.aspx?cid=795F85CDF7D72822&resid=795F85CDF7D72822!1367&app=Word

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    3. and to be sure and officially correct.. I make the broodje halfom with pork liver but..

      the "Amsterdamse broodje halfom" was from origin a Jewish delicatessen - so they did not use pork liver but Beef liver and Pekelvlees - and following kosher rules - No butter on the bun !!

      You can use my recipe also to "cook" the beef liver !!

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