Date #12. Maggie is in the Netherlands with Jan in his new home. The schedule so far this visit has been more ‘stay-at-home', which means days of eating home-cooked Dutch food (did I say potatoes?).
“Construction workers build polders and cities with this food,” Jan said as he placed the dishes of freshly prepared Stamppot on the table.
Fresh spinach, boiled potatoes, and bacon stood humbly crushed together waiting. We toasted our glasses of beer and dug in.
Traced to the late 1500’s it is still one of the most popular meals in the Netherlands.
During the Eighty Years War, the inhabitants of Leiden stubbornly defended their city from the Spanish through a one-year siege. The Spanish soldiers retreated on October 3, 1574, leaving behind cooked bits of an unfamiliar stew of carrots, meat, onions and parsnips. The starved inhabitants of Leiden quickly ate it. They named it hutspot (stamppot). This day, Leidens Ontzet is still celebrated in Leiden on October 3rd every year. They eat lots of stamppot with beer as a symbol of victory and freedom!
It is called a 'winter dish' because it is a must-have dish during winter months. There was always an abundance of potatoes in past centuries, which quickly and cheaply filled up hungry farmers.
There are variations on the stamppot recipe, sometimes using a different vegetable like kale, endive, leek, or even sauerkraut and sometimes sausage. What has remained constant is the intense popularity of this dish more than 400 years later.