Monday, March 2, 2009

Cooking in a foreign language.

Do you have a dictionary in your kitchen? I have learned most of my Dutch on the back of boxes in the kitchen. My husband is now quite accustomed to the sight of me, mid dinner-prep, rushing into the living room in a flour-covered apron to grab the dictionary and frantically leaf through it to get the meaning of some Dutch culinary instruction or listed ingredient. 

I picked up this box of chocolate mix cake on a lark, and was mid-prep when I noticed that the box said "Homeade." Cha! So, when I gave it to my beloved I told him it was homeade. Then, I whipped out the box and pointed to the word, "homeade." Clearly, I am a domestic goddess. "See? would I lie?"

But isn't it funny that the English word "homeade" crept onto a Dutch baking mix box? That they would opt for this word instead of a Dutch word meaning the same thing is just one little example of how English is woven into the language here.

So back to the Dutch bit. It was a downright lesson in Dutch sociology, this box of baking mix. At the end I was instructed to remove the cake when the word "sateprik" in the instructions tripped me up. What, you don't have sate sticks in your kitchen? The influence of Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, is most evident here at the culinary level. Many native Amsterdammers will point you to the nearest Indonesian place when you ask for a local restaurant recommendation. The most basic grocery store in Amsterdam will have a workable selection of Indonesian goods on their shelves. So, I suppose it was not that much of a stretch for the creator of the baking mix to assume I'd have a bag of sate sticks in the kitchen. This is what they suggested I use, not a toothpick, to test the doneness of the cake. 

The result? Okay for a snaking cake, but the Dutch "Dr. Oetker" brand cake mixes are the ones you want for that luscious Duncan-Hines almost as good as from scratch yumminess.

1 comment:

  1. That's very interesting, because I prefer satay skewers to test large bakey things like bundt cakes. Toothpicks don't work as well.


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