Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wedding Bells

Announcement of intention to marry

A hundred years ago this week, wedding bells rang for Barend van den Bergh and Elisabeth Daams. According to Dutch custom and law, it was necessary to formally register their intention to marry ahead of time. That is what the document above indicates. Ondertrouw is the Dutch word for this process, which is analogous to applying for a marriage license in many other jurisdictions. Inside the booklet are inscribed the names of the bride and groom, their hometowns, and the date that the wedding will take place:

Wedding Announcement 

The Dutch word Huwelijksvoltrekking (pronounce it if you can!) means "wedding ceremony." Dutch marriage law requires a civil ceremony, performed by an official known as a registrar of marriages. Couples who wish to do so may also have their marriage solemnized in a religious ceremony. We don't know the details of who attended the wedding ceremony, or whether the couple had a reception or a honeymoon. But we do know the ages of the bride and groom; Elisabeth was 25 years old, and if the genealogy prepared by my sister Margriet is correct, the wedding took place on Barend's twenty-third birthday.

As far as I know, we don't have a wedding picture in the family archives either, but we do have a photograph from the following year, after the couple's first child was born:

Elisabeth and Barend with Baby Jacob 1912

I need to do a bit more research, perhaps on to try to find out when the couple left the Netherlands and on what ship. (If any of the relatives reading this have any other information, please let me know!) In the meantime, let's try a typical Dutch recipe from Elisabeth's cookbook.

Martine Wittop Loning devotes an entire chapter to hutspot or stamppot, a sort of hodge podge of mashed potatoes, vegetables, and sometimes meat. The meat is typically beef, but occasionally mutton, although mutton was more commonly consumed in England than in the Netherlands.

Hutspot met klapstuk (hutspot with beef rib):

- 3 lbs. winter carrots (about 6 large carrots)
- 3 lbs. potatoes
- 2 or 3 small onions
- 1 lb. beef rib
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 3 cups water
- 1 tbsp. salt (I used only a teaspoon.)

Hutspot Ingredients

Wash the meat, and let it cook in the salted water for 2 1/2 hours, until tender. In the meantime, scrape the carrots, wash them, cut them up, and add them to the cooking pot. Do the same with the potatoes and onions. (I also added some fresh garlic.) Let the mixture cook together for another 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are done.

Drain off the water and remove the meat from the pot. Mash the vegetables, taking care to leave some whole chunks of potato and carrot. Serve the meat alongside the mashed potato mixture.

Mash the potatoes and carrots

I used stew beef instead of a slab of beef rib, so I didn't need to cook the meat as long as the recipe called for. I could not imagine having to cook a slab of meat for two and a half hours, but then I pictured the kind of meat that must have been available a hundred years ago; certainly not our industrial hormone-laden steer. Probably either a cow that the farmer had slaughtered himself, or a hunk of meat fresh from the village butcher shop. Even today, stew beef is most tender if cooked a low heat (simmered  -  remember pruttelen?) - in its own juices for a relatively long time.

Hutspot ready to eat

The chunks of carrot add some color to the mashed potatoes. And the meat, vegetable, and potato make it a balanced meal.

Eet smakelijk! Enjoy your meal.

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