WND – Alsof een engeltje over je tong piest*

June 25, 2010

Apparently the Dutch are trying to create a frenzied international market for the first herrings of the year. Or, as the somewhat bemused NYT article put it, they’re trying to do for raw fish what the French did for, “what is, by most measures, a pedestrian wine” (it’s also a slightly snide article), otherwise known as the sale of the Beaujolais nouveau every year.

According to the article large quantities of herring are already shipped to Germany where it is eagerly consumed, and there’s about 5 tons that gets shipped to the US every year for raw bars, etc. The Dutch are trying to capitalize on the lure of charming local traditions, cultural tourism, and the appeal of exotic foods to make this not just an event, but an Event. Locally it’s already an Event with the first barrel of herring being auctioned off for charity for a whopping $70,000 (or $1,555 per herring) this year, and people wandering around Scheveningen in traditional costume, speaking a local dialect and participating in such traditional games as stilt walking and can throwing (!? – I don’t know y’all the Elfstadentocht sounds much cooler than traditional can throwing, but I suppose these are seasonal delights).

Interestingly while you still see herring stands when you visit places like Amsterdam – or at least I did, even without having them pointed out to me by relatives who wanted to be sure I had the full experience while I was visiting – consumption of herring is waning in the Netherlands among the younger generation. Reasons cited include, “it’s fish”, “it’s raw”, and “it’s smelly”. I don’t have any particular objection to fish, but I’m with them on the raw and the smelly bits. Watching people neatly tip their heads back and lower herring into their mouths is fascinating, but I can honestly say it’s not something I’ve ever actually wanted to do myself, numerous relatives who assure me it’s a taste treat notwithstanding. This, at least for me, is mostly about the fact that it’s raw. I don’t like sushi or steak tartare or carpaccio either. It’s not the taste, it’s the uncooked part that phases me.

I wish the Dutch luck with making Holladse Nieuwe a tourism attraction. I would have thought that with a certain segment of the (American) tourism population they’d have a pretty good shot – it nicely combines the quaint with the exotic.  Personally raw herring isn’t something I’d make a pilgrimage to anywhere for, although maybe I’m being narrow minded and parochial seeing as how I’ve never actually tried it.  There a lot of other foods I would cheerfully make a pilgrimage to the Netherlands for, like freshly baked stroopwafels and fresh poffertjes from a stand, not to mention oliebolle and bitterballen and speculaas and, of course, rijstafel.

Meanwhile, back in somewhat less adventurous Massachusetts – I’m enjoying our local seasonal delights such as the Strawberry Festival at Wilson Farms last weekend (featuring stellar strawberry-pomegranate jam, strawberry soup, strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry cobbler, strawberry vinaigrette and strawberry ravioli, and why yes I did have a little taste of everything, it only seemed polite), and looking forward to the promised delights of the Corn and Tomato Festival at Verrill Farm in late August (all the heirloom tomatoes and corn varietals you can eat for $8.50). And while I mourn the fact that apparently this was the last week for strawberries at the farmer’s market (according to the vendor at any rate), I eagerly anticipate cherries, peaches and nectarines.

Chicken with Root Beer Barbeque Sauce
Potato Salad
Salad (pea tendrils)

Champagne & Strawberries

Chicken with Root Beer Barbeque Sauce
I had to buy a six pack of root beer to make this sauce, but I only needed one can, so now I have five cans of root beer in my pantry to play with. The Bon Appetit that arrived on Wednesday night helpfully includes a recipe for root beer baked beans which may be making an appearance at Dinner shortly.

It was pointed out to me that I could have (a) gone down to Whole Foods for a smaller, organic bottle of root beer, or (b) stopped at a CVS and bought just a can. Both of these things are true, but (a) I wasn’t going to go out of my way for root beer, and (b) it didn’t occur to me.

Recipe previously given: Seasonal Ennui

Potato Salad
Dinner this week started with one of my biannual cravings for potato salad and got built around what else would go with the potato salad.

I made it a little differently this time in that I used equal amounts of mayonnaise and plain (Greek) yogurt. I think I like this even more than just cutting the mayonnaise with a dollop of yogurt. It gives it a little more tang, without sacrificing the creaminess from the mayonnaise.

Recipe previously given: You Want Me To Do What?

The market was bursting with fresh summer goodness this week and I was easily seduced by the bunches of radishes.

I didn’t need to be seduced by the tomatoes, I was sold on them as soon as a saw the small crate of early summer sun ripened local tomatoes. They tasted as good as they looked. I think it’s the sign that summer has officially begun.

A picture just so Eva can see what pea tendrils look like.

Champagne and Strawberries
Champagne to celebrate the recent engagement of two Dinner folk, and strawberries because I’ve seen “Pretty Woman” way too many times.

* Alsof een engeltje over je tong piest = Like a little angel pissing on your tongue
Yes this is an actual Dutch proverb. I know this because I’ve heard my father use it – in reference to wine as it happens, although probably not a Beaujolais nouveau. My mother and I both turned to him with identically startled expressions and asked if that translated the way we thought it did. It did. I’d say there are weirder Dutch proverbs, but actually I think that is the strangest one I’ve heard. As Dutch proverbs go, I’m also quite fond of Voorzichtigheid is de moeder van de porseleinkast (Prudence is the mother of the china cabinet). It lacks the charming nonsensical nature of angels pissing on your tongue, but does have the dubious merit of making sense. Also, it’s fun to say.



  1. I’m still baffled by the idea of harvesting pea tendrils. Doesn’t that mean a smaller crop of actual peas? And where does one make the cut? Are peas like roses, where the cut should occur at the five-leaves?

    • You get that I don’t actually harvest the pea tendrils, right? I mean, I just buy them and then gorge myself on them. So, in other words, I have no answers for you.

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