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The Dutch province of Brabant is synonymous with good food. The famously exuberant Brabanters know how to enjoy life to the full and treat themselves regularly to a mouth-watering range of Brabant delicacies, some of which are explored in more detail below.
Brabantse koffietafel (Brabant coffee table)
Until just a few decades ago it was extremely common to serve a typical Brabantse koffietafel at parties and festivities in Brabant. Although this delightful tradition is slowly dying out, you can still order a Brabantse koffietafel in plenty of good restaurants. The Brabantse koffietafel traditionally commences with a glass of brandewijn (brandy) and sugar. This is quickly followed by a selection of Brabant roggebrood (rye bread), ontbijtkoek (breakfast cake) and krentenbrood (Dutch currant loaf), all spread liberally with butter or lard and then topped with your choice of Dutch cheese, fresh sausage, zult (meat terrine) or ham. Alternatively you can pick from a tempting variety of sweet fillings, such as appelstroop (apple syrup), honey, jam and hagelslag (Dutch chocolate sprinkles). And, as the name might suggest, this veritable feast is typically washed down with a cup of fresh coffee.
Bossche bol (choux pastry cream cakes)
This incredibly filling specialty pastry originated in the Brabant city of Den Bosch. It is made from a large ball of choux pastry (about 12 cm in diameter), which is then cut in half, crammed with whipped cream and topped with a generous glazing of pure, dark chocolate. Whilst this heavenly version of the chocolate éclair isn’t exactly suitable for those who are watching their weight, a visit to Brabant, or indeed the Netherlands, simply isn’t complete without trying one.
Brabants worstenbroodje (Brabants sausage roll)
The Brabants worstenbroodje is a classic Brabant snack prepared from white bread dough and a spicy meat filling. Most Brabant bakeries sell this warming titbit and you can also find them in local grocery stores and supermarkets. And regional television and radio broadcaster, Omroep Brabant, keeps this wonderful Brabant culinary tradition well and truly alive by organising an annual Brabantse worstenbroodjes baking competition.
Balkenbrij (typical Brabant farmer’s dish)
Balkenbrij is an age-old farmer’s dish that has been enjoyed throughout Brabant for centuries and was traditionally prepared during the slaughter season. Whilst Balkenbrij originally contained pig’s offal, you’re more likely to find bacon, liver and ribs in today’s version. The meat is cooked in a broth containing buckwheat flour and a mixture of spices such as black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and aniseed, before cooling and setting into a type of meat pie that can be cut into slices. Most Brabanters fry their Balkenbrij slices with a little butter in a pan (to give it a lovely crisp coating) and serve it on fresh currant loaf. Delicious!
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?