Summer is always a lot of hustle and bustle. Vacation plans, shopping, packing, picnicking and of course, the BBQs. People are all set for a native country-bound vacation, especially after the pandemic. Now comes the part on planning presents to take home (home country).
During this part of the year, many spy for gifts to take home. It’s never an easy task for people travelling homewards to decide on presents to take home.
It’s no different with our family too! We went through a zillion ideas (like my son always puts it, it’s never a small number) before putting together a gift hamper full of authentic Dutch goodies. We thought of a combination of edible and inedible things (read, souvenirs etc.).
Delft Blue -You can’t ignore this one, can you? The lovely chubby cherubs on Delft souvenirs are cuteness overload. Royal Delft has been creating high-end, exquisite ceramic wear since 1653 and still continues to create iconic pieces to this very day.
Blonde Amsterdam, my personal favourite, is a must-buy for the cheerful and the child inside everyone. The company was started in 2001 by two art academy alumni from Brabant. Initially, they made only crockery, but now the product range includes cheerful greeting cards, school supplies, tins, aprons, pot holders, t-shirts, duvet covers and much more.
Needless to say, the Dutch clogs and tulip pens never fail to impress as cadeautjes (gifts), especially when you combine it with a bit of history of the clogs and tulip mania of the Netherlands. My parents prefer Dutch gardening equipment and Gardenia is their favourite brand.
Moving focus on the goodies that fill tummies, I asked for my son’s advice. He took up the opportunity to promptly chat with his friend with whom he was playing “Nerf-war” in our backyard.
Sweet and salt
Liquorice topped the list as the craziest entry. It’s the Dutch equivalent of wasabi in terms of uniqueness. The notorious Dutch drop, some can’t have enough of it whereas the others cower and pucker. It can be challenging if you’re not used to it. The drop is made of black liquorice, and it comes in all flavours, salty, sweet, chewy, zesty, and some can scorch your tongue. The salty flavour comes from Salmiak.
The Salmiak salt flavour is described as “smacked with a layer of sharp and sour salt dust, then soothed by something bitter and caramel-sweet” (from Saveur).
Picking up some caramel stroopwafels is a no-brainer. They are the most favourite and most wanted treats. Stroopwafels in a Delft blue tin is a win-win. I remember being welcomed with some stroopwafels at the Expat centre, located next to the station, back then in 2011.
Anis my son’s Algerian friend joins the conversation, vouching for pepernoten and Speculaas. Pepernoten are tiny cookies eaten during Sinterklaas season. Zwarte Piet or now referred to as Sooty Piets, give away handfuls of Pepernoten during the Sinterklass visit. Sinterklass is a near cultural adaptation of Santa, in my opinion, but psst! “The Dutch don’t fancy that notion”. A cup of tea or coffee with speculaas is good old-fashioned and lends itself perfectly with other sweet treats. This festive season treat has an overpowering ginger flavour with spices, especially cloves and nutmeg.
If you can manage to take along some cheese, then Gouda tops it all. Closing heels would be Old Amsterdam, but if you prefer some high-fat ones, then the Maasdam made from cow milk is a suitable choice. If bragging rights are important then Beemster, an award-winning cheese, is a natural choice.
For a beer fan, Eindhoven has many venues, such as the Stadbouwerij or Swinckels, which are prominent breweries that offer a premium selection. A dry gin from Schiedam, Bobby’s gin could be a niche add-on. The company touts, “Bobby’s gin is a refined expression of Dutch courage fuelled with Indonesian spirit”.
Rare ones in
Ontbijtkoek fairly finds a place in the hamper. Roughly translated as a breakfast cake, the Ontbijtkoek is a Dutch and Flemish spiced rye cake. It is traditionally served with a thick layer of butter smeared on it. A ready-to-eat snert or erweten soup also offers a savoury addition to the hamper.
Save the best for the last
Tompuce! Don’t forget it! Tompuce is traditionally a soft pink or white creamy icing sandwiched between two sheets of puff pastry. The top layer of icing becomes orange during king’s day or during football matches. Eating a Tompouce can be a messy debacle. To save your face (sometimes literally), you can flip it onto the side and eat it by slicing it into bite-sized pieces. I have never managed to impress my Dutch friends at this. You can try…
I hope I have made your task of taking home gifts easier, this season. Moreover, I am keen on hearing what your experiences are in gifting authentic Dutch goodies.