Food is an important element in understanding the culture of a country. What we eat reflects the importance of food in our life, our tastes and our history. I was looking forward to enjoying Dutch food with people from all over the world when I came to Wageningen.
illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
One day, I decided to dive into Dutch cuisine. Usually, I cook Japanese dishes such as sushi and enjoy sharing them with my friends at potluck parties. However, since I have found that cooking another culture’s food is the best way to get a real feel for the culture, I organized a group dinner with my corridor mates, who are mostly Dutch. I suggested stamppot, the most popular meal in the Netherlands.
I also prepared green leaf salad because I couldn’t believe that stamppot alone could be the whole meal – neither in terms of quantity nor as a menu. This is not to criticize the Dutch-style supper, on the contrary! But in my country, Japan, nutrition experts and TV shows say that eating 30 different ingredients a day is ideal for health. I believed it because I never got to know a different food culture until I came to Wageningen.
My corridor mates from the Netherlands, however, think of a meal as consisting of three components: vegetables, carbohydrate and meat. Stamppot meets the criteria - vegetable: kale; carbohydrate: potato; meat: sausage. I had never imagined that three-ingredient meals existed! My dinner guests told me they had never ever eaten stamppot with salad before, but they thought it was healthy and good! I was surprised by the difference between the food cultures of the Netherlands and Japan, but I really appreciated their kind words and how they enjoyed the delicious stamppot. The stamppot and green leaf salad together on a plate seemed an expression of Dutch flexibility.
Konomu Fujita, a Social Sciences exchange student from Japan
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