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As the winter months close in, many Dutch look start to look forward to just one thing: a hearty evening meal complete with a succulent rookworst (smoked sausage)! It’s therefore not surprising that for Dutch emigrants scattered all around the world, the smoked sausage has become synonymous with home. But where exactly did this typical Dutch delicacy originate and how long has it been a favourite in the Netherlands?
Many Dutch argue that the rookworst is a typical Dutch meat product that has graced Dutch plates for centuries. However the famous Dutch smoked sausage is not quite so old and was in fact created during World War II by the popular Dutch department store, the Hema, who wanted to offer their customers an affordable meat product in times of scarcity. In reality, this first rookworst contained everything except meat, consisting mainly of flour, vegetable oil and spices instead. Indeed, it wasn’t until shortly after the war that meat (in the form of offal) was finally added to the beloved rookworst. It’s also worth noting that the name ‘rookworst’ is considered rather strange in the Netherlands, because this sought-after Dutch winter sausage is not actually smoked and the sausage obtains its distinctly smoky taste from added flavourings.
Whilst some Dutch butchers still sell raw smoked sausage that requires cooking, most smoked sausages sold in Dutch supermarkets and online Dutch shops today are pre-cooked varieties made from pork and / or beef mixed with a blend of spices. In addition, they tend to come vacuum packed, meaning that they don’t require refrigeration and benefit from a longer shelf life than their predecessors.
As increasing number of Dutch people prefer their smoked sausage with a reduced fat content, the extra lean smoked sausage is gaining in popularity. The majority of Dutch serve their smoked sausage in a traditional kale or sauerkraut dish, yet the versatile rookworst tastes equally delicious in a filling pea soup or a bread roll.
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?