Maastricht is one of the Netherlands most beautiful cities. It’s located in the very south of the country, on both sides of the river Maas. It’s close to Germany (Aachen, Aix-La-Chapelle is only 30 km) and the Belgian city of Liège (25 km). Its culture and cuisine are strongly influenced by France. Maastricht is well known for its excellent local wines (Hoeve Nekum, Apostelhoeve), the hilly countryside and its ceramic.
In 1737 Marie Michon was born in Maastricht. In 1768 she married Albert de Milly. Both families were related to Hugenoten: protestant people who escaped from persecution in France because of their religion and moved (in this case) to the Netherlands in 1685. One of her daughters was Thérèse Elisabeth de Milly, who married the German Baron Friedrich Ludwich Behr in 1792. Clearly a rich and influential family. Mother and daughter wrote down recipes and practical households tips. There are two ‘cahiers’, known under the title ‘Natuurlijk Kookboek van Beproefde en Ondervonden Echte Recepten voor een Zindelijk Huijshouden’. The title would translate into something like ‘Natural Cookbook of Tried-and-Tested Real Recipes for a Proper and Clean Household’. In 2008 44 recipes were included in a book written by Marleen Willebrands.
In the Historisch Kookboek Vega written by Manon Henzen we noticed a recipe for chervil (pan-) cakes, based on one of the recipes of Marie Michon and Thérèse Elisabeth de Milly. Chervil, although its taste is delicate, was considered to be a very powerful and useful herb. It relieved symptoms of gout, high blood pressure, gas, eczema etcetera. The original recipe suggest frying the pancakes per 3. Which made us think of the traditional Dutch dish ‘drie in de pan’. These are small pancakes made with flour, yeast, eggs, milk and (optional) raisins. Fried per three, indeed.
The dough of the chervil pancakes is a combination of eggs, all-purpose flour, bread crumbs, melted butter, yeast, sugar and cinnamon. Add lots of chopped chervil, allow to rest and fry in a pan. We also added chopped parsley and chives. The pancakes looked very nice and inviting. When eating them we were slightly disappointed (a bit heavy, a bit dry). Perhaps we should have thought about a sauce?
More information (Dutch only) about the original recipes from 1785 can be found on the website of DBNL.
The very first recipe in the very first cookbook in Dutch is for stuffed eggs. The book Eenen seer excellenten gheexperimenteerden nieuwen Cocboeck (which would translate into something like A very excellent new cookbook with full proof recipes) was written by medical doctor Carolus Battus and published in 1593. The book contains some 300 recipes for a range of food and drink. It was published as an annex to his Medecijn Boec.
The term ‘full proof’ in the title is slightly inaccurate: Carolus Battus doesn’t mention quantities and it’s also unlikely that he, as a very important doctor in Antwerp and later Dordrecht and Amsterdam, would have had sufficient time to actually prepare the dishes mentioned in his book.
In 2021 Marleen Willebrands and Christianne Muusers published a book on the life of Carolus Battus, his books and his recipes. The book was awarded with the prestigious Joop Witteveenprijs. It’s beautifully illustrated, well written and it contains a wealth of background information plus photo’s that show the facsimile of the 1593 publication. Historian Alexandra van Dongen contributed with a chapter on 16th century ceramics and etiquette.
Their book gives a wonderful insight in 16th century food, which obviously is very different from today’s food. Sugar is often used (see for example the recipe below for stuffed eggs) as are raisins and fruit preserves. The focus is on meat, obviously. Vegetables (other than asparagus and artichokes) are seldom on the menu.
The book also includes suggestions how we, in the 21st century, could use the recipes from 1593. The book offers modern versions of recipes for onion soup, for sausages with pork meat and fennel seeds, for chicken with bitter orange, for buttermilk cheese etcetera. The fun of this section of the book is that it enables you to taste the flavours of the 16th century, without having to search for alternative ingredients.
Use a fork to combine the egg yolk, rosemary, marjoram, sugar, cinnamon, mace and ginger
Stuff the eggs
Fry the eggs in brown butter (!)
Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
We enjoyed the stuffed eggs with a glass of rosé. The taste was very pleasant and the combination of the herbs and spices worked very well. Frying the eggs was a bit tricky but 3 minutes in a non stick pan worked well.
Our 2022 version:
Boil the eggs
Remove the yolk
Finely chop fresh rosemary and marjoram
Grate some fresh ginger
Use a fork to combine egg yolk, rosemary, marjoram, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
Stuff the eggs
Fry the eggs in butter and serve.
Het excellente kookboek van doctor Carolus Battus uit 1593 (Dutch only) is available via the usual channels and your local bookstore for € 29,95.
Today the program of the 7th Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food closed with the Prize-giving ceremony of the 2022 Johannes van Dam Prize and the 2022 Joop Witteveen Prize. Previous winners of the prestigious Johannes van Dam Prize include Yotam Ottolenghi, John Halvemaan, Carlo Petrini, Alice Waters, Claudia Roden and Alain Passard.
Joop Witteveen Prize
The Joop Witteveen prize was awarded to Marleen Willebrands, Christianne Muusers and Alexandra van Dongen, authors of Het Excellente Kookboek van doctor Carolus Battus. This book focus on the culinary world of doctor Battus, who lived from 1539 until 1619. His cookbook was published in 1593.
Two publications were shortlisted: Dirk-Jan Verdonk, Dierloos: Een geschiedenis van vegetariërs en veganisten in Nederland and Ingrid de Zwarte, Hongerwinter.
Johannes van Dam prize
The 2022 Johannes van Dam prize was awarded to Belgian Chef Jeroen Meus. He is well known for his inspiring daily TV program Dagelijkse Kost (Daily Food). In this 15 minutes program he shares the fun of preparing food, for instance crumble pie with pears and raisins, monkfish with a mustard crust or penne with chorizo and red bell pepper. His aim is not to cook on Michelin Star level, his aim is to help everyone prepare tasty, good food, every day of the week. His books and website (in Dutch only) support this goal in a very helpful way.
Professor Louise O. Fresco, President of the Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research and chair of the jury, emphasised that Jeroen has a true talent to bring food and people together. She also highlighted his passion to prepare good food, and the fact that he shares that passion not only through cookbooks, but also via social media and a daily show on television. She mentioned he is an inspiration to all of us who love to cook and enjoy food.
Jeroen thanked the jury and all those who supported him over the years. He mentioned that he shared the love for meatballs with potato mash and endive (Chicorium endivia) with culinary journalist and food expert Johannes van Dam. He promised to prepare this dish next week on television, as a tribute to good food and to the prize.
Next year on February 11th and 12th, the 7th Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food will take place in Amsterdam. You can also join online, for € 40,00 only. Lunch not included of course. This year’s theme is Food and the Environment: The Dynamic Relationship Between Food Practices and Nature.
The key note will be delivered by Ewout Frankema, Professor of Rural and Environmental History at the Dutch Wageningen University and research fellow of the UK Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). Amongst the speaker are Christian Reynolds on The evolution of “sustainable” and vegetarian recipes from manuscripts and cookbooks to online and Amber Striekwold on The Dutch Alternative Food Movement.
On Friday 11th the program will close with the Prize-giving ceremony of the 2022 Johannes van Dam Prize and the 2022 Joop Witteveen Prize. Previous winners of the prestigious Johannes van Dam Prize include Yotam Ottolenghi, John Halvemaan, Carlo Petrini, Alice Waters, Claudia Roden and Alain Passard (see picture).
On Friday November 15th and Saturday 16th 2019 the annual Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food took place at the main auditorium of the University of Amsterdam. Such a pleasure to listen to great papers presented, discussing (post-) colonial foodways; creating, negotiating, and resisting transnational food systems. Two award ceremonies are part of the symposium.
Joop Witteveen Prize
Maarten Hell, author of De Amsterdamse herberg 1450-1800: geestrijk centrum van het openbare leven (published by VanTilt, Nijmegen, 2017) was the winner in the Academic category, the Joop Witteveen Prize. A book that discusses not only the history of food and drink as served in the inns in Amsterdam between 1450 and 1800, but also the development of what we would call hospitality. The prize is named after culinary historian and author Joop Witteveen (1928-2016). Together with his partner Bart Cuperus and Johannes van Dam (see below) he founded the Dutch Gastronomische Bibliotheek (gastronomic library), now part of the historical collection of the University of Amsterdam.
Johannes van Dam Prize
Alain Passard received the prestigious Johannes van Dam prize. The jury, chaired by professor Louise O. Fresco (President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board), mentioned his impressive contribution to international cuisine. She highlighted that many years ago Alain Passard shifted towards vegetables, creating a new balanced cuisine, without banning fish and meat from his menu. The vegetables and fruit are organic and produced on his own three farms. His combinations and flavours are exceptional, just think about a side dish with haricots verts, almonds, white peach and basil.
His second important contribution to today’s cuisine is to introduce colour and art as elements of cooking, next to flavour, shape, odour, temperature and texture. His approach is unique and his recipes are a tribute to vegetables, fruit, flavour and colour. The prize is named after culinary writer and critic Johannes van Dam (1946-2013) who was not only known for his reviews of restaurants but also for his massive collection of books on food and drink plus his passion for tasty, good food. Amongst his favourite dishes were the typical Dutch kroketten (‘croquets’ in French). Normally a cheap and fat snack, but Johannes van Dam was convinced that it is a true delicacy provided – of course – it is prepared the right way. Mr. Passard was clearly very happy, proud and touched to receive the prize. In his speech he emphasized the importance of the season. He mentioned that nature is a cook book in its own right, one that is beautiful and should be followed.