Netherlands

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Dutch cookery, i.e. that practised in the Netherlands (and closely connected with the Flemish-speaking part of belgium), has shown great continuity since medieval times to the present, as befits people who can count conservatism among their numerous virtues and who have not only conserved (against the encroaching sea) their precious agricultural land but have even enlarged it by creating new polders in the Zuyder Zee.

Although this is not the place to discuss the complex political history of the Low Countries in general or of the Netherlands in particular, mention must be made of one great event, the Reformation, because, when this put an end to religious paintings (of the Madonna and saints and so forth) in N. Europe, the great school of Dutch painters turned perforce to secular themes; and it is to this change that we owe the abundance of still lifes of food, paintings of market scenes, etc., which do so much to bring alive for us the foodways of the 16th and 17th centuries.