New Netherland

The Dutch Larder,
page 6 of 13

Their dinner is buttermilk and bread to which they sometimes add sugar, and then it is a delicious dish to them: or fresh milk and bread: or boiled or roasted flesh. They sometimes make use of buttermilk instead of fresh milk to boil a thin kind of porridge with, which tastes very sour but not disagreeable in hot weather. To each dinner they have a great salad prepared with abundance of vinegar and little or no oil. They frequently eat buttermilk, bread and salad, one mouthful after another. Their supper is generally bread and butter, or milk and bread. They sometimes eat cheese at breakfast and at dinner: it is not in slices but scraped or rasped so as to resemble coarse flour, which they pretend adds to the good taste of cheese. They commonly drink very small beer or pure water.”

The “great salad dressed with vinegar” was doubtless “koolslaa,” shredded cabbage, which we to-day call coleslaw. It was a universal dish also at that time in Holland. A woman-traveller there in 1756 wrote:—

“Everything of vivers is dear in Holland except vegetables, upon which the commons live all summer, and the better sort a great deall. Every body, great and small, sups on sallad with oil and vinegar.”

The Dutch were famously fond of “bakersmeats,” — all cakes and breads, — and excelled in making them, and made them in great variety. There was early legislation with regard to bakers, that they use just weights and good materials. In 1656 they were ordered to bake twice a week “both coarse and white loaves, both for Christians and Indians,” at these prices: Fourteen stuyvers for a double coarse loaf of eight pounds, with smaller loaves at proportionate prices; and eight stuyvers for a white loaf of two pounds. Two years later the coarse wheat loaf of eight pounds was definitely priced at fourteen stuyvers in sea-want, ten in beavers, and seven in silver. The bakers complained, and a new assize of bread was established at a slightly higher rate. Under Dongan’s charter bread-viewers were appointed; then the bread had to be marked with the baker’s initials. I have puzzled over a prohibition of any bakers selling koeckjes, jumbles, and sweet cakes, unless he also had coarse bread for sale; and fancy it was that the extravagant and careless purchaser might not be tempted or forced to buy too costly food. One baker was prosecuted for having gingerbread in his window when he had no coarse bread. There were also “pye-women” as well as bakers.


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