2_3_DiscoverBenelux_Issue14_January2015_Scan Magazine 1 26/01/2015 19:14 Page 18
A culinary hotchpotch force In conversation with a Dutchman and in need of a topic? Ask for their favourite ‘stamppot’ (hotchpotch) and a stream of answers will follow. If there is one dish the Dutch absolutely love, it is the traditional hotchpotch. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: SANDRAYSBRANDY.NL / WERNERDRENT.NL
It is a typical Dutch peculiarity: mashing their food into one big mush. But, with good reason: it is delicious, healthy, and no matter how catastrophic the chef is, anyone can make it. Hotchpotch or stew has many variations, but the base ingredients are always the same: mashed potatoes and vegetables. It is a rich, winter dish, and used to be eaten at lunch. After all, it gave enough energy to be able to work in the fields for the rest of the day. Nowadays it’s a meal for supper, and is more popular than ever. Hotchpotch history It is not entirely clear how the basic recipe arose, but we do know some things about the formation of the Dutch hotchpotch. In the Middle Ages many dishes were pre-
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pared in a large cauldron or pot. At the time, the potato wasn’t a common ingredient yet (see potato fact box). A staple at the time was a pulpy soup-like stew, filled with grains, vegetables and meat. There is another ancestor even more akin to the modern Dutch Hotchpotch. In the night of 3 October 1574, in the middle of the Eighty Years’ War, the Prince of Orange ordered the bursting of the dykes around the city of Leiden to expel the Spanish occupiers. As the troops left their camps in a hurry, the people of Leiden found recently cooked dishes: mashed carrots, onions and parsnips. After a very tough time of occupation, with hunger and disease, they instantly loved the food and called it ‘hutspot’, a name which is still used today.
Eventually the parsnip was replaced by the potato, but that would take several centuries. Hotchpotch madness The Dutch love their hotchpotch, and with good reason. Sandra Ysbrandy, famous Dutch TV chef and author agrees: “It is simple to cook, children love it, the basics are very healthy, and there is a lot to experiment with; you can unleash your imagination.” Ysbrandy is also the face of the hugely popular hotchpotch contest, organised by the Dutch TV-show Life4You. The best hotchpotch of 2015 will be announced in late February. “People make hotchpotch in every style: Mexican, Greek, anything. I
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.