The Dutch are very family orientated. Any excuse for a get together is a good one. American family reunions center often around a backyard BBQ or a potluck of variety. The Dutch have their own definition of the typical family reunion meal: Gourmetten.
What exactly is a gourmetten? In simple terms, it’s a long hotplate that is placed on the dining table, Benihana style. Family members set up enough hot plates to accommodate the mouths to feed. Types of cook-able foods depend on who is eating. Most of the time there is pork, beef, and chicken, although we’ve cooked vegetables in tiny frying pans as well.
Meats range from precooked to raw, so cooking times differ on what you want to eat. Side dishes also include kruidenboter, which is a type of garlic bread, and fruit salad. Most of the time, kruidenboter can be store bought but this batch was home made and so creamy! Grocery stores sell the premixed herbs for the butter so it’s easy to make at home. I’d like to come up with a DIY for my friends back in America but I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t made the time.
Many sauces are also set on the table for added flavor to the already spiced meats. My favorite is garlic and spicy garlic but BBQ and even curry sauce is up for grabs. The raw and cooked meats can be purchased pre-seasoned or flavored but unflavored is common as well. What’s fascinating, is that this traditional meal is so common that most stores sell meat sets specifically created for gourmetten. This includes ready to cook party packs, a selection of choice cuts perfect for the hot plate.
What is the point of having this meal at home? To socialize! The Dutch are social people by nature, which is obvious especially in smaller towns. It’s also an easy meal, everyone cooks their own food while the rest socialize. It’s very common to expect a gourmetten meal if family members are visiting.
While the food is usually delicious, it tends to be on the greasier side. A majority of the meal is also, you guessed it, meat. I try to indulge in more of the veggies and fruits than of the meats. Yet, I usually can’t resist at least some scrumptious kip (chicken) bites.
Gourmetten takes advantage of that magical Dutch word, gezellig. I’ve talked about it previously here. The atmosphere around the meal is comforting and energetic. It’s family time during these traditional meals and that’s something I’d love to see more of in America.