Finding Indonesian food in the Netherlands is kind of easy, which is maybe due to the long history that these two countries shared. Indonesian restaurants can be found in many cities. In the supermarkets, there are various Indonesian foods which I did not imagine I would find in Europe: tempe, kerupuk (known as kroepoek here), and of course sambal.
Illustratie: Henk van Ruitenbeek
The fact that it is called sambal, the same as Indonesians call it, was surprising for me. As a spicy food lover, it was a happy moment when I first saw so many varieties of sambals and spicy menus at Indonesian restaurants. I was so excited when I bought sambal for the first time. I was thrilled when I ordered a spicy menu at an Indonesian restaurant for the first time. I was so ready to experience the nostalgic feeling of being home. However, the second this so-called sambal or spicy food reached my mouth, my hopes were shattered.
Most of the time, what is defined as spicy here is actually sour to me and most of my Indonesian friends. Sometimes it is even just a sweet flavour. Ever since those first tastes, I do not believe anything that is labelled spicy anymore. Even though it is Indonesian food from an Indonesian restaurant, which is cooked by Indonesians, most likely the flavour has been adjusted to Dutch tastes.
The good news is that the pepper itself, in its raw form, is also available here and is as spicy as it should be. I will just have to be more creative in my kitchen then, to keep up my standard of spiciness. That way, I hope I will not be shocked by the real spicy food when I go back to my country.
Dea Putri Utami, MSc student of Food Technology, from Indonesia
Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience of going Dutch? Send it in! Describe an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and earn twenty-five euro and Dutch candy.
NL: Wat nou pittig
Het was een prettige verrassing voor Dea Putri Utami dat er in Nederland zo veel Indonesisch eten te krijgen is. De namen zijn zelfs min of meer hetzelfde als thuis. Blij kocht ze een potje sambal en ze verheugde zich al op de eerste nostalgische hete hap. Maar wat een tegenvaller! ‘Wat hier voor pittig doorgaat, vind ik meestal zuur.’ Gelukkig kunnen de Hollanders niets verprutsen aan de pepers zelf; die zijn hier zo heet als ze moeten zijn. ‘Ik moet alleen wat creatiever zijn in de keuken om de juiste mate van pittigheid te bereiken.’