Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The south sure makes up for it! Being the more lively half of the country, children and adults will dress up in costumes, parties are held at schools and work and the whole bottom half of the country is pretty much out of the running during these last carnaval days. For those party-poopers that wish to escape all lunacy, ski destinations are especially popular during this time of year. As you may remember, Holland has no mountains, so the Dutch flee en masse to hillier countries such as Switzerland, Norway and Austria. Ski away!!
Carnaval organizations from various cities in the south will select a theme and organize parades with huge floats with which they reflect on important local events, make fun of political happenings or represent their organization, guild or sports club, each in their own distinct dialect. Most places will also adopt a different name during these last five days before Lent: the city of Den Bosch is now known as Oeteldonk, Breda becomes Kielegat and my own Venlo is now called Jocus. The city of Sittard, now 't Marotte Riek, is well known for its deep-fried Carnaval donut called nonnevot.
But as it is, to all good things come an end, and when Ash Wednesday, March 8th, comes around it's time to regroup, repent and retreat. After partying for five days straight, people go back (to their own) home, wash the makeup off their face, remove the confetti from their hair and put away their costumes. After so many indulgences, it is traditional to celebrate the end of carnaval, and the beginning of Lent with haringsalade, a pickled herring salad. Beets, potatoes, pickles, apple and herring make a creamy, slightly tangy dish that is refreshing, nourishing and makes up for the lack of meat. Eaten preferably with buttered cold toast, it's a good way to put up your feet, relax and mentally prepare for next year's Carnaval. After all, November 11th is only nine months away......
1 small jar of herring in sour cream, 12oz
2 beets, boiled and peeled
1 large apple, crisp
6 tiny dill pickles
1 tablespoon of capers
1 small shallot or onion
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
Four slices of white bread
Dice the beets and potato. Peel and core the apple, then dice these as well. Chop the shallot or the onion, do the same with the dill pickles. Fish (no pun intended) the herring pieces from the sour cream dressing and cut them in half. Add two tablespoons of mayo to the remaining sour cream dressing in the jar, mix and toss carefully with the rest of the ingredients into a creamy salad until the beets have colored everything a purplish red. Add additional sour cream or mayo if the salad needs it.
Toast the bread, let it cool and butter on one side. Cut in two or three pieces and serve with the salad.