What can turn a dull Dutch street into a Luna Park?
Exactly, the arrival of a new born. Everyone knows fresh born babies are brought by the stork. These flying white concords with their bright orange beaks are the bringers of good fortune. Though seemingly wise they tend to be quite clumsy, at least in the Netherlands according to what I saw.
Aiming carefully and than crushing through one of the windows, with the baby wobbling in its tow, is a common habit of this big bird here. Once inside, the happiness and tender care can start, and grown-ups welcome the new arrival by pitching their voices into Donald Duck mode, using words like, “poepie” and “gucchi gucchi”, preparing maybe for a Gucchi life?
Once the gender is determined the family runs to the supermarket to get the three things that will complete the welcome. Since “the Dutch” sail the world we are relying on “BESCHUIT”, also known as “SCHEEPS-BESCHUIT” to nourish us during the trip. Well it is the descendent of this hard backed biscuit that we serve to our guests when they visit the baby. Sounds harsh maybe, but this is a bite-able version, and we Dutch love them, specially at breakfast with real butter on top. The topping for this occasion is the key ingredient for this treat and they are …… mice !!!
The what …. yes mice, I said the word, they come with many in two different colors. Pink when it is a baby girl and … yup .. blue when it s a boy. The manufacturer is “de Ruijter”, and their neighbor, King Willem the third liked them so much he gave them in 1883 his Royal aprovement. His little crown still holds strong on the cardbord box. Why do we Dutch eat these mice? Well because it’s a tradition where the mice depict the fertility they are known for and second because they are tasty these mice.
At their center is a small anise seed with a little tail which is covered in multiple layers of sugar, glucose sirup and icing sugar/poedersuiker and finally coloured coated. In big copper bowls the seeds turn round and round in this sugar water, and as the water evaporates a thin coating is left behind, repeated until a thick coating. The mice have to dry for 36 hours until crunchy. This way of conserving roots and seeds date back to at least the 16th century. Yummies as pistachio nuts but also cilantro, cinnamon, fennel seeds and musk got a sugar coat. Be honest who does not love sugar coated peanuts mmmm, the musk I am not sure off though.
This strong Dutch tradition comes some times in orange with a Royal celebration but I wonder what transgender mice would look like.
Be safe and behave,
With love, the Dutch Cook