Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bake, Bottle, and Boil -- Dutch Cooking Terms

As any linguist will tell you, there is not always a one-to-one correspondence between lexemes in any two languages. I found this to be true when translating some of the Dutch recipes in Grandma VandenBergh’s cookbook.

As you might easily guess, bakken means to bake, and koken means to cook, or to boil. But bakken can also be translated as to fry, while for English speakers, baking and frying are two very different processes. The first is done in the oven, while the second involves cooking in hot oil on top of the stove. 

And what of to steam  --  stomen, and to stew  --  stoven? Interesting to note that the consonants are the same in both languages, but the vowels have shifted.

The Dutch word roosteren (double o in Dutch is pronounced like the long o in "oh" in English) closely resembles our English word roast. But it can also be translated as to grill or to broil. And the English word roast can also be translated as braden in Dutch.

Wittop Koning’s Simple Hearty Fare includes a whole chapter on home canning and bottling, which bears the heading Inmaak in flesschen  --  “putting into bottles or jars.” Home canning is a project that I have not yet attempted, but may be the subject of a future post. 

Glass canning jars

 The evolution of cooking terms is of course closely linked to the development of food preparation methods. In colonial-era houses in Upstate New York, such as the Cherry Hill or Schuyler Mansions in Albany, or Howard Hall Farm in Athens, New York, one can still see the Dutch style of open-hearth fireplace where cooking was done in a large iron pot hung over the fire, and baking was done in an oven embedded in the wall of the hearth, or in a “Dutch oven” placed in or near the fire. Perhaps the cooking terms only became more specialized as the equipment itself evolved into more modern forms. 

My all-time favorite Dutch cooking term is pruttelen  -- to simmer. Many a time I remember my mother letting a dish “pruttle” on the stove, whether a pot of homemade soup or a slab of corned beef. Here is a recipe from Grandma VandenBergh’s cookbook for a bean soup that must pruttle on the stove for several hours:
White beans
Simple White Bean Soup
- 1 ½ cups white beans
- 2 qt. water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 leeks
- 1 small bunch of celery (or about 2 stalks)
- 2 ½ tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 bouillon cube  (The original recipe calls for 2 tsp. ArĂ´me Maggi, but if this is not available, you can substitute a bouillon cube.)

Wash the beans and let them soak overnight.

Bring to a boil in the same water. After one hour, add the cut-up leeks, chopped celery, salt, and bouillon cube. Continue simmering [here, doorkoken, meaning to cook thoroughly] for one or two more hours, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens.

Serve with croutons. 

Eenvoudige witte boonensoep



Or with whole wheat bread:


Thank you to Margriet W. for preparing this soup. 

Het was lekker!

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