Science - October 27, 2005

Q&A / Dutch dairy products: what is vla?

Go to any supermarket and you will find a shelf of dairy products that stretches almost into infinity. No matter how small the shop is, dairy products always make up a substantial part of the stock. There is huge variety in products and any one product comes in many ways: from plain milk and yoghurt to Milk&Fruit and sweetened yoghurt with chocolate.

However, a product that remains just that what it is, is karnemelk. If you don’t know that you are drinking karnemelk, you are likely to think that the milk has gone bad. It is the waste product that is left over after making butter from milk. In earlier times people were reluctant to waste agricultural produce, and the sour liquid had quite a pleasant taste. Nowadays karnemelk is made by adding special bacteria cultures to pasteurised milk.

But the most famous Dutch dairy product is vla, something still found nowhere outside the Netherlands. According to a historian, vla originated in 1950 as a sweet and luxurious alternative to porridge, made from milk, sugar and eggs. Now Dutch people eat more than ten kilograms of vla each year as a dessert. Some have compared vla to English custard, but that is served warm and often used as a topping for apple pie. Real Dutch vla should be eaten cold.

Somewhere in the sixties, a creative dish was born using vla, the famous vla-flip. This is a combination of vla, yoghurt and a little lemonade cordial. You used to have to mix it yourself, but now it is sold readymade in cartons and different flavours. Nevertheless there is nothing better than homemade vla-flip.

So, it’s clear that there is a wide enough choice of desserts. Just trying all the different flavours of vla and related dairy products should keep you treating yourself for most of your stay in the Netherlands. For a really Dutch dairy experience, try the bitterkoekjesvla. Bitterkoekjes are cookies made out of bitter almonds. /
Laurien Holtjer

Have you come across things here in Holland (or more specifically in Wageningen) that puzzle you or you want to know more about?
Send an e-mail to wispr@cereales.nl and you may find the answer in the Wispr the following number.

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