Dutch-Indonesian Food Identity
Father's Day is coming, Gedempte Flaish recipe, and a Central Asian cookbook of the month
Between Two Worlds
I have to admit I really had no knowledge of Dutch colonial history and the diaspora of Dutch-Indonesians (more commonly called Indo-Europeans, which is a little confusing in my linguistics brain since Indo-European is term for one of the world’s most prominent language families) until I started following to food blog Dorothy Porker a couple years ago. Mieke, the author of the blog and whose grandfather had a Dutch father and an Indonesian mother, often reflects in her writing the interesting and sometimes bizarre intricacies of identity and food. She was gracious enough to answer some questions I had for this week’s Instagram dish that was going to focus on the Tong Tong fair in The Netherlands, which was originally started to celebrate Indo-European food and culture. This week instead of just focusing on the festival, I attempted to explore the legacy of 300-plus years of Dutch colonial rule over Indonesia, and how those of Indo-European heritage have straddled the cultural acceptance line of both countries, while making Mieke’s gado gado recipe.
Basically, centuries of colonial rule where the Dutch were almost constantly fighting rebellions led by locals, European men having children with Indonesian women, and the massive power imbalances stemming from various laws about those children, still carries influence even generations after Indonesian independence. Indo-Europeans were allowed to claim Dutch citizenship starting in the late 1940s and hundreds of thousands of people migrated to The Netherlands from Indonesia under the Dutch repatriation program. Assimilation was paramount in The Netherlands, and although Indo-Europeans weren’t quite accepted by the Dutch—whether due to the color of their skin or the remnants of Indonesian culture they brought with them—Indo-European food has fused into Dutch society.
Catch the video on my Instagram stories on Friday or in my highlights after.
Next week I’m not cooking much since I’ll be in Utah and driving my 16-year-old dog up to Oregon now that we finally have a house. But the week after that will be dedicated to Vikings, and you can get a head start by checking out the delicious-looking recipes on Norwegian food blog North Wild Kitchen.
Just a heads up that Father’s Day is on June 20, and if you are so inclined to make a cookbook with dear old dad this year, you can see more about The Family Cookbook experience and gift giving here.
Although family food traditions are usually associated with moms and grandmas, I’ve done quite a few sessions and books revolving around foodie dads and fathers who value their food heritage. If your dad falls into that category, this is an excellent gift he’ll love.
Hearty Jewish Fare: Gedempte Flaish with Apricots
I’ve been flipping through a few retro cookbooks that have popped up while moving and am attempting to make some of these old-school recipes in my spare time. The Art of Jewish Cooking by Jennie Grossinger (originally published in 1952 compliments of American Savings and Load Association) is a collection of Ashkenazi recipes and kosher recipes that are very….’50s—I might pluck up the courage to try the pineapple chiffon pie one of these days. I tried out the Gedempte Flaish with Apricots recipe to some success. Though ye be warned: It’s very rich. The apricots caramelize while slow cooking with the beef and they become like candy. I cut the recipe in thirds and it was still a bit much when day 2 of leftovers came around (although it was just me eating, my husband’s strict diet is sans-brown sugared chuck roast). And I appreciate the effort given by the bay leaf, but not sure it could really stand up to the strong apricots, so if you don’t have one on hand you can probably leave it out. Give it a try yourself for your weekend dinner.
1 pound dried apricots
4 cups water
2 onions, diced
3 pounds center-cut chuck roast
2 tablespoons fat or butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Wash the apricots and soak in the water for 1 hour.
Brown the onion and meat in the fat. Add the salt, bay leaf, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and undrained apricots. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.
Cookbook of the Month
Those who know me are familiar with my slight obsession with the Eurasian and Central Asian parts of the world—I’m fascinated with basically anywhere between the Balkans and the Chinese border. So I was particularly excited about this book by Caroline Eden (who also wrote Black Sea on food and travel from Ukraine to Turkey), which has been sitting on my wish list for awhile and I finally managed to pick it up.
This cookbook isn’t really a straightforward cookbook. It’s more of a travelogue littered with recipes exploring Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and Eden does a beautiful job of human storytelling using food as a connector. To most of the Western world, this area is a black hole, with people only knowing Borat caricatures and Soviet stereotypes, and maybe a few will be familiar with its Silk Road heritage. Eden’s goal with this collection was to capture a snippet of these countries as they are now before competition for their ample resources from Russia, China and to an extent the U.S., open them up to irreversible change. Accompanied by fantastic images from two photographers—Ola Smit for food and Theodore Kaye for travel—I haven’t made it through the book entirely yet, but am already planning to dive into some pumpkin khunon or mushroom khinkhali very soon.
Preserve Your Family Food Traditions
Whether you have a strong family food heritage or are major foodies, learn more about the custom cookbook process by grabbing The Family Cookbook Info Guide.