By Jennifer 8. Lee | November 25, 2009
Just finished reading your book. What a lovely, well-written, well-researched joy! Thank you!
I received this fun email today from an American living in the Netherlands. Who knew the book had traveled so far? It’s one of the fun aspects of being an author, little pieces of you goes all over.
I actually do remember being struck that the Dutch Chinese restaurants were really Indonesian, which made sense given their colonization history.
I am American but have lived in the Netherlands the past 2 years with my Dutch husband. I can relate to your thoughts on assimilation, keeping cultural traditions whilst taking on the new and also the world perspective you write about in general. Your Stir Fry chapter especially hit a nice spot in me. Very nicely put and also interesting to think about how Americanized ethnic foods have become in America. For example, what I had always perceived as being ethnic food in America is truly American to those on the outside. I now see this more having lived abroad for a while now. I can also see what they perceive as Chinese food here in Holland is not Chinese at all…but more suited towards the Dutch palette with the addition of an Indonesian twist. I know I am excited about a book when I go around randomly quoting trivia facts from it…yours has been on the top of my quotes recently.
This is her explanation of Dutch Chinese food.
- Dutch “Chinese” dishes…well ANYTHING with peanut sauce…they go crazy for the stuff! 🙂
- A type of fried rice dish here that comes standard with all dishes is called Nasi and noodles are always called Bami (thicker noodle) or Mihoen (thinner noodle).
- Ketjap that you mentioned in the book is super popular and in fact at my worksite, the VERY Dutch cafeteria (we’re talking LOTS of Bread and LOTS of milk) has packets of Ketjap sauce as a standard condiment.
- The most popular of all Dutch-Chinese-Indonesian dishes is probably Babi Pangang it is kind of a pork in a very heavy and sweet tomato sauce and served with a type of cabbage on the bottom. Here’s a link, it’s in Dutch, but you can see the pic at the top of Babi Pangang as it looks fresh from a take away!
- Eggrolls are known as loempia’s here…and can be anywhere from the size of a roll of dimes all the way up to burrito size! I kid you not! Our local “Chinese” take-away has the burrito sized ones and they come stuffed with bean sprouts, ham slices and a fried egg.
- We have chop suey here too except it’s called Tjap Tjoy and it has a little less celery in it.
- Foe Yong Hai (Egg with a red sauce and other ingredients) is pretty much Egg Foo Yong.
- Gado Gado is another popular one, it is a peanut-based dish usually with meat and veggies.
I think all of this is very much the Indonesian influence. In fact, I think, most of the names are from an Indonesian origin. I just find it fascinating how cultures just merge and flow together. Meanwhile, most people don’t know what is what anymore. In fact, ask any Dutch person what is Dutch food and they’ll really only name one official dish (Stamppot) after that they’ll probably talk all about peanut sauce and babi pangang and all of the other dishes the Dutch traders brought back to NL.
Comments are closed.