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Few know how to prepare meal

Dutch hodgepodge dishes primarily a favourite with men

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - A traditional hodgepodge made with potatoes and vegetables such as kale, endives or sauerkraut remains a favourite dish for most Dutch families at home and abroad. The dish in one way or another is more popular in the eastern part of the country than in the big cities in the West.

Results from a recent survey into eating habits suggest that men prefer such a basic dish more than women do, although preparing the meal still is a women's domain. Men supposedly stay away from making such a dish, simply because they do not like to peel potatoes.

The kale, sauerkraut, spinach or onions-and-carrots hodgepodges usually are made from a family recipe, handed down from mothers or grandmothers. Although there are many more of these potatoes-and-vegetables one-pan dishes - those with Brussels sprouts or chicory come to mind - most survey participants acknowledge knowing no more than four varieties.

Hodgepodge dishes invariably are linked to the winter season and very few people crave 'boerenkool met worst' or any of the others when the weather is hot. Such dishes usually are not on the menu either when entertaining guests, despite the fact that hodgepodge is considered to be very healthy.

The availability of pre-peeled or pre-cut potatoes does motivate more people to prepare a hodgepodge dish. Many of the vegetable ingredients already come prepackaged, and a rookworst, or klapstuk (rib steak) can be found widely in Dutch supermarkets or butcher shops, unlike in immigrant countries. There, people usually substitute or hunt for such ingredients at Dutch stores.