MNSDK is My Not So Dutch Kitchen. This perfectly describes my kitchen….cooking in the Netherlands but cooking anything but traditional Dutch food. In the Netherlands there are plenty of restaurants within reach that serve tasty Dutch food. So why bother cooking it at home?
I only began my cooking journey when I moved to the Netherlands in 2010. I was then 38 years old. Before then I never really cooked nor needed to cook. Why would you cook when you have an amazing mom who prepared the best home-cooked meals? I also had 2 older sisters who often took the role of home chef when my mom was away. I was the ‘little sister’ who was always given the boring task of setting the dinner table, thus I never had the chance to learn how to cook. And growing up in Chicago you were never empty-handed when it came to restaurants. There was practically a restaurant on every corner of every block, and the variety was endless.
Upon arrival to the Netherlands it wasn’t long before I struggled with food. As an inexperienced cook I naturally sought out restaurants where I could dine, order from and take-away. But unfortunately in my new hometown there were only a handful of choices, and the selections that were available were either way too pricey or simply not my preferred taste. I often craved for the food I used to have back home, making me even more homesick, but unfortunately that was not available from where i lived. I quickly realized that the only solution was to actually cook myself.
I started browsing the internet for recipes, asking friends for tips, and even invested in some cookbooks and magazines to help get started. Surprisingly I loved it…to cook! I owe it really to all the fantastic recipes I’ve found, plus my husband and 3 children who were my everyday taste-testers. With of course a lot of trial and error these recipes have taught me different ingredients, cooking methods and most importantly the joy of cooking. Before I knew it I was cooking Korean one night, Italian the next, Greek the following, and even making homemade American pancakes from scratch (good-bye Aunt Jemima!). I was bringing the different flavors of the world into my Dutch kitchen. The great thing about all of this is that not only was I able to finally enjoy the meals i had back home, but my children were able to develop a fine appreciation for all sorts of cuisines at a very young age (something that actually became very handy when traveling with them to different countries). Best of all, because the Netherlands is big on fresh food markets straight from the farm, I am always able to find fresh and local ingredients . This makes cooking and eating at home all the more better. What a lifestyle change!
So, as long as I live in the Netherlands, I will leave it to the Dutch chefs to enjoy all my Dutch favorites (ie freshly baked bread, piping hot bitterballen, fat crispy frietjes, and the soft doughy oliebollen). But for everything else I will continue to cook in my very own kitchen, right here in the Netherlands.