Dutch Feast

Cover of Dutch Feast by Emily Wight

Dutch Feast
Emily Wight
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017

In case you missed it, Dutch food is hot right now. Here in Toronto we’ve got a cool new Dutch restaurant and a Dutch-Indonesian restaurant that is still the only place near downtown to get Indonesian cuisine. So Emily Wight’s Dutch Feast comes at an opportune moment when people are eating, cooking, and learning about Dutch food.

Wight’s partner has family living in The Netherlands so she’s had firsthand experience of the country and the food, both in restaurants and a home setting. She goes into great detail about the history of Dutch food, including the sensitive (but tasty) issues of colonialism that are the source of the beloved rijstaffel in which Dutch people stuff their faces full of really good Indonesian food, but which most Indonesians would never partake of.

Combining traditional and modern dishes, Wight has come up with a great snapshot of Dutch cuisine and culture. Of course there are bitterballs (a type of Dutch croquette), and other dishes that make up the traditional Borrel (appetizers or tapas) such as Dutch fries, and fried cheese balls, but every meal is covered, along with events and holidays important to the Dutch. For instance, Wight offers a whole chapter on food for Christmas.

There are lots of cakes and tarts (the Dutch do have a collective sweet tooth) for everything from breakfast to afternoon tea and these are both light and hearty at the same time (dishes like rice tart or apricot and buttermilk coffee cake).

Wight also offers asides on traditional Dutch treats like chocolate and licorice, as well as customs like Sinter Klaus, making this an excellent primer to learn the basics of Dutch culture.

Usability: Very good. While not every dish is accompanied by a photo, the recipes are presented on a white background in a clear font with line breaks between steps. Instructions are informative and not chatty. Ingredients lists are in bold with metric measurements included. Some of the Indonesian recipes require ketjap manis, but Wight includes a recipe for this if you can’t find it in an Asian supermarket.

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