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Dutch~American Day
16 November 2021

The American Community Survey, compiled between 2008 and 2012 and being the most recent analysis, identified 2% of the total population of Bedford County as descending from Dutch ancestors.

The reason for the name: 'Dutch' should be mentioned at the start. The region in the northwest corner of the European continent includes The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (sometimes referred to as Benelux). The Benelux region has historically been known as 'The Low Countries' due to their being at or below sea-level. The Netherlands constitute twelve provinces to the north of Belgium that are often referred to as 'Holland' although the portion of the Netherlands which has historically been thought of as Holland consists only of two provinces named North Holland (Noord Holland) and South Holland (Zuid Holland).

So where does the name 'Dutch' come from? In ages past, the northern regions of Europe were inhabited by people of Germanic ethnicity. The word that described their language was Deutsch. As city-states began to merge into provinces and duchies, those which encompassed what we today know as Germany became known as Deutschland because the people spoke traditional Germanic, or Deutsch dialects. The 'Low Countries,' being of the same Germanic ethnic background, with the same language traditions, became known as Nederdeutschland, or 'Lower Germany'. Over the years, the people of the Low Countries, i.e. of Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg were referred to as 'Dutch' by English-speaking people, meaning that the inhabitants of those regions spoke 'Dutch.' It referred more to the culture of the people rather than to a particular geographic region.

Dutch~American Heritage Day was established in 1990 to honor the memory of the Netherlands being the first foreign country to recognize the United States of America.

On 16 November 1776, the American ship, the Andrew Doria, gave and received a salute from the cannon of Fort Oranje of the Dutch island of Sint Eustatius. Sint (variously Saint) Eustatius, had been facilitating the sale of arms and ammunition to the fledgling United States by European countries for some time. The Andrew Doria was commanded by Captain Isaiah Robinson. Robinson ordered his men to fire a thirteen gun salute as they entered the bay below Fort Oranje. The island's Governor, Johannes de Graaf returned the salute with his own reply of an eleven gun salute. Two shots less as a response was an international signal of recognition of a sovereign nation. The salute presented to the Andrew Doria by the guns of Sint Eustatius gave official acknowledgment that the rebel colonies constituted a new nation. The salute would add fuel to the fire that resulted in Great Britain declaring war on the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on 20 December 1780. The conflict between Great Britain and the Netherlands would become known to history as the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War.

On 14 November 1991, President George H. W. Bush declared the 16th of November as Dutch~American Heritage Day.

Dutch~American Heritage Day is celebrated by rejoicing in things that are emblematic of Dutch culture. Celebrants wear klompen, the ubiquitous wooden clog-style shoes. A popular amusement for Dutch~Americans is participating in, or simply watching, traditional dancing. Horlepiep is the name of a traditional dance performed by men on the order of a square dance. The Klompendans is performed by men and women wearing wooden shoes. The shoes tend to limit movement, so the dance is not very lively. The dancing is accompanied by accordion music. To perform the traditional dances, women wear long dresses with aprons and always have their heads covered by either a small cap or a high peaked hat. Shawls cover the women's shoulders. Men tend to wear long trousers held up by suspenders over their loose fitting shirts. Wide brimmed hats are worn by the men. The men wear neckerchiefs attached together with a leather ring called a 'woggle'. And both sexes wear the wooden clogs unless a dance requires quick movements. Thick woolen socks help to make the clogs more comfortable.

On Dutch~American Heritage Day, the descendants of Dutch immigrants who have guided the United States of America are honored. Presidents who had Dutch ancestry included Martin Van Buren, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Two members of the Continental Congress: Egbert Benson and John Jay, were of Dutch descent. Philip Livingston and Lewis Morris were signers of the Declaration of Independence of Dutch descent.

Although Dutch settlement in North America did not extend much beyond New Amsterdam, which became New York, the names of the various boroughs and neighborhoods that remain to this day were derived from Dutch names. The Bronx gained its name from an early Dutch settler, Jonas Bronck. Brooklyn was derived from the Dutch name Breukelen. Coney Island started as Konijnen Eiland. Vlissingen became Flushing. The spelling of Harlem was only a single letter away from its antecendent Haarlem. The name of the Dutch Parliament, the Staten Generaal provided the name for Staten Island. And finally, Wall Street was derived from the Dutch Wal Straat.

It also must not be forgotten that secular Christmas celebrations in the United States make Santa Claus the center of attention. Santa Claus was a cultural descendant of Sinterklaas.

In regard to the cuisine enjoyed by the Dutch and their Dutch~American cousins, it must first be understood that the Netherlands not only share a border with France, but during the 1400s were ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy. French culture and cuisine naturally flowed northward across the border. But France was not the only influence on Dutch cuisine. For nearly two centuries, from the mid-1500s through the 1600s, the Netherlands were ruled by the Habsburgs of Spain and were known as the Spanish Netherlands. Spanish cuisine therefore would have influenced the native cuisine also. There was also the influence of Indonesia. The trading interests of the Netherlands among the islands of Southeast Asia in the 1600s, introduced Indonesia's unique cuisine to the Low Countries.

Traditional Dutch foods, which rely heavily on fish and vegetables, especially potatoes, are enjoyed by Dutch~Americans. Plainly seasoned, but hearty foods were brought to the North American colonies from the mother country by the immigrants of the 1700s.

Like their German and Polish cousins to the east, the Dutch are fond of sausage. The Dutch are especially fond of the type of sausage called 'mettwurst.' The name refers to sausage that consists of minced meat which is air dried as compared to being smoked. Droge Worst might be the most common type of mettwurst eaten throughout the Dutch regions. It consists of pork that is minced and mixed with salt, pepper, mustard and garlic, stuffed into casings and then air dried for one to two weeks at a lukewarm temperature. A sausage called Ossenworst, made originally from ox meat but now from raw beef, originated in Amsterdam. The variously air dried or smoked sausage was created in the 1600s when oxen provided meat. Modern sensibilities prevent oxen from being used for food, so it has become substituted by raw, or fresh, beef. The beef is mixed with spices including nutmeg, cloves, mace and pepper.

Bitterballen is the Dutch version of meatballs. Flour is added to melted butter in a skillet. Beef broth is added and the mixture is stirred till it thickens. Then to that is added beef sirloin cut into one-half inch cubes along with salt, pepper, parsley and nutmeg. The mixture is then refrigerated until it is cool. The mixture is divided into small balls and coated in egg and bread crumbs before being deep fried in oil. When they reach a golden brown they are served to be dipped in mustard. Similar to Bitterballen is a dish that comes from the French influence on Dutch cuisine. It is called Kroket, variously Croquette. The dish consists of either veal or beef ragout (i.e. a meat cooked slowly over low heat) which is then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. Kroket might be filled with chicken or fish such as tuna. Like Bitterballen, the fried golden crispy Kroket is most commonly eaten by dipping it into mustard.

Maatjesharing, the Dutch name for 'new' raw herring, is eaten primarily in the spring. Safe to be eaten raw, the 'new' herring is deboned and the gills and intestines are removed. The pancreas is left intact to impart the taste for which herring is known. The herring is then frozen for at least twenty-four hours to kill any parasites and then salted. While the thought of eating a raw fish is repugnant to many people, the fact of the matter is that the salting process literally 'cooks' the fish. The herring is then filleted by removing the head, all of the bones and the skin. The tail is left on so that the diner has something to hold on to when the fish is lowered into the mouth. The herring may be sprinkled with diced onions or not. That is up to personal preference. Because the salting process preserves the fish, they can be kept for quite some time, although the taste gets saltier the longer they are stored. If 'raw' herring, or any fish for that matter, is not to your liking, Kibbeling is fish such as cod which is breaded and fried with tartar sauce on the side.

Potatoes feature prominently in Dutch cuisine. Stamppot is perhaps the most common. The name refers to potatoes mashed with some other type of other vegetable. Stamppot Zuurkool is potatoes mashed together with sauerkraut. Hutspot consists of potatoes, carrots and onions boiled and then mashed together. Stamppot Andijvie is potatoes mashed with endive. Stamppot Boerenkool is potatoes mashed with kale. Hete Bliksem consists of potatoes mashed together with green apples. Blauwe Bliksem consists of potatoes mashed with pears. The Stamppot could either be prepared by boiling the ingredients separately and then mashing them together, Or the ingredients might be boiled in the same pot and then mashed. It seems to be simply a matter of preference and family tradition. Potatoes are not mashed but cut into strips and deep fried to make Vlaamse Frites, the Dutch version of 'French Fries.' Variously named 'Belgian Fries' or 'Patats,' Vlaamse Frites are generally cut thicker than french fries and are similar to what are called 'steak fries' in the United States.

Potatoes were also a primary ingredient of a number of stews and soups in Dutch cooking. Aardappelsoep met spekjes, or Potato Soup with Bacon adds garlic, onion, cheese, rosemary and chives to the potatoes and bacon. Prei Stamppot met Rookworst, combines potatoes, leeks, red peppers, cheese and sausage, such as rookworst. Erwtensoep is the ubiquitous pea soup, a standard in Dutch cuisine. Erwtensoep combines either ham, bacon or sausage with potatoes, dried green split peas, onions, leeks, celery and a host of spices and herbs. The peas are boiled in three cups of water and the meat is added. After boiling for nearly an hour, the meat is removed from the pot and set aside. The other vegetables are added to the pot and it continues to boil until all the vegetables are soft. The meat is sliced thinly and then added back to the pot. The soup is heated until it cooks down and thickens. A traditional statement is that Erwtensoep should be so thick that a spoon should be able to stand upright in it. A stew called Oudfriese Winterpot is sometimes called Old Frisian Hodgepodge. The stew combines potatoes with pork, mushrooms, string beans, carrots, tomatoes and leeks. Friese Koolstamppot met Lamsvlees is Frisian Lamb and Cabbage Stew. Equal amounts of potatoes and cabbage are combined with bacon, lamb, pickles and vinegar. It is flavored with tarragon, which imparts flavors of turpentine and eucalyptus to any dish. It is often used to flavor lamb dishes. Linzensoep, or lentil soup is comprised primarily of lentils, but potatoes also figure prominently in the recipe.

Speaking of soups, Cabbage and Pea Soup is similar to Erwtensoep but with the addition of cabbage to the Erwtensoep recipe. Mosterdsoep is known as Mustard Soup in English. To make Mosterdsoep, bacon is browned and diced up and then leeks, onions and garlic are heated in the bacon drippings. Chicken stock and cream are added to the pot and mustard is added. The soup is simmered until all of the vegetables are soft. Boerenkass Soep, or Dutch Farmer's Cheese Soup, is made by sauteeing potatoes, onions, cauliflower and carrots in butter until the onion turns golden brown. Vegetable stock or broth is added to the skillet and the whole cooked until the vegetables are tender. Slices of bread are added to the top of the pot and sliced gouda cheese is placed on top of the bread. The soup is placed in a broiler oven and heated until the cheese is melted over the bread.

Rijsttafel, translated into English as 'rice table,' is perhaps the best example of the influence of Indonesian food on Dutch cuisine. It is more than a single dish. It is a sort of mini-feast consisting of different types of rice and many side dishes of savory and sweet, bland and spicy and hot and cold ingredients. Various vegetables and types of meat and fish serve as side dishes to the rice.

One of the Dutch~Americans' favorite dessert items is the Stroopwafel. Two wafers made from flour, eggs, milk, butter and yeast are pressed in a waffle iron until there are crisp. Then caramel made by cooking syrup, cinnamon, brown sugar and butter is poured over one of the wafers. The second wafer is placed overtop the caramel and as the three layers cool, the waffle hardens into a crispy sweet treat. Other desserts tend to be types of cookies such as Pepernoten, a cookie specially made at Christmas time. Pepernoten are made with cinnamon and anise and therefore have a slight licorice flavor. Although Dutch pancakes are generally made thinner and less sweet as pancakes that most of the people in the United States are used to, Poffertjes are mini-pancakes that are thick and sweet. Made from buckwheat flour and yeast, poffertjes are fluffy and sweet especially when dusted with powdered sugar. They might also be topped with jams or fresh fruit.

Like their German cousins, the Dutch drink Beer primarily, and a famous brand of Dutch beer which has become popular in the United States is Heineken. Of other alcoholic drinks, Brandy comes second to beer in popularity Oranjebitter is brandy flavored with orange while Boerenmeisjes is brandy flavored with apricots. Advocaat is a type of brandy mixed with eggs and sugar. Jenever, the Dutch version of gin, is distilled from grain or malt and originated as a medicinal elixir before becoming popular as an alcoholic drink.

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