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Posts Tagged 'dutch'

That Other San Francisco Bread

Dutch Crunch RollWhen you mention bread and San Francisco everyone says sourdough. It’s become so associated with San Francisco that no one thinks you can make it anywhere else. You can actually. Sourdough can be made anywhere in the world, but unless it’s made in San Francisco it doesn’t have the correct culture in it that gives it that taste.

A funny thing happened to me today. Wife asked me about a certain type of bread that our daughter now loves. She asked me, what makes the crunch on a Dutch Crunch roll? I never had them before I came here. Well that sparked me to search for the history of the Dutch Crunch Roll after looking up what made the crunch [note: it’s a very loose rice flour yeast dough].

As it turns out the bread was originally made in the Netherlands where it is called Tijgerbrood or Tiger Bread. Apparently someone at the Galli Sanitary Bakery made and sold some back in 1909 and called it Dutch Crunch Bread and that was the end of it until around the 60’s or 70’s when the now defunct Parisian Bakery started to make Dutch Crunch Rolls. For some strange reason then never ventured outside of the Bay Area and barely left San Francisco, but having to take the back seat to sourdough bread left a lot of people not having any idea that you could only find it in the Bay Area.

I remember starting to get it  around the 80’s so it even took time for the locals to know what it was. I had gone to get a sandwich somewhere and they asked if I wanted it on sourdough or Dutch Crunch. Me being the purist type that I am and thinking that sourdough with anything other than butter is a bit of heresy said, Dutch Crunch. There really isn’t that much special about a Dutch Crunch Roll at first. It’s like white bread in a roll with a crunchy topping and that is really the ultimate simplicity of it that makes it so wonderful for sandwiches.

When you make a sandwich on sliced white bread your fingers compress it into something makes the whole sandwich feel like deli meat wrapped in dough. It’s not a very good sandwich feeling. To this day I can only eat peanut butter and jelly or Bologna and American Cheese on white bread [the more overly processed the better]. If you’re using a sourdough or French roll for a sandwich there are all those big nooks and crannies that everyone likes that really suck if you like mustard or mayo on a sandwich. Enter the Dutch Crunch Roll — it’s white bread — in a roll. It doesn’t turn back to dough when you squeeze it because of the crunchy topping and doesn’t give you pockets to fill with mustard and/or mayo to explode into your mouth or squirt out on your shirt. It is the perfect vehicle for meat and cheese and anything else you put on your sandwich.

I’m sure I could find an architect who could give a dissertation on the construction of the roll extolling the virtues of the hard, crunchy exoskeleton of the roll properly supports the soft, spongy interior that both cradles and grips onto the sandwich ingredients to keep them from fighting their way out of the bread as you eat your sandwich, but I think I’ve done good enough in my last few sentences. While you can make a Dutch Crunch Roll anywhere in the world, for some reason no one’s ever thought of it outside of San Francisco and the Netherlands [though I hear the U.K. is giving it a go now.]

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Why The Hell Is My Daughter Speaking Dutch?

Every once in awhile some really strange happens that catches me off guard. My daughter who I’ve mentioned previously is autistic. She doesn’t talk much, but this is getting a lot better. I suddenly noticed her saying phrases that weren’t English and of all things sounded Dutch. It turns out that she was indeed speaking Dutch. How did this happen? I can blame it all on Sesame Street.

Sesame Street is shown all around the world in just about every country if not every country. Add to this an iPad and YouTube and there is where it all started. She’s going to be 5 at the end of the month and took to the iPad quicker than a pair of senior citizens I was hired to teach them how to use one. Since she loves Sesame Street and understand how YouTube works she finds lots of videos to watch. the odd part is that when she selects a video it shows suggested videos to watch. She watches a bit in English and there might be a suggested version of it in Spanish or Dutch as the case may be.

I don’t mind her speaking Spanish because, well that is a language I can at least understand. Dutch is one of those languages that I don’t even know how to say anything that would get my face slapped in [there are 12 other languages that I know how to get my face slapped in, but that’s another story.]

I understand how a young child’s mind is very malleable and it is very easy for them to learn new languages. I get a kick when she walks in the room and says hola or wants me to do something and says vuelve conmigo. That I can understand, but when she starts singing the Teletubbies theme in Dutch it becomes a little creepy. She even gets the lispy S at the end of teletubbiesh.

Since she has creeped me out quite a bit with this I felt it only fitting to torment my beloved readers with the Teletubbies intro in Dutch. Enjoy and be horrified.

The History of Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, the day when we eat way too much, drink way too much and we all fall into what has been referred to as the Turkey Coma after dinner. This is the biggest day of the year for feeding the rich and the poor so I decided to take a look into the history of this all American holiday.

Well first off, it’s not just celebrated by Americans. Maybe on this day it is, but there are many other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving as well. The fourth Thursday of November was declared to be the official celebration date of Thanksgiving by congress in 1941. The same year we entered into World War II. Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Grenada celebrates Thanksgiving on October 25th, but that has nothing to do with pilgrims, but is a giving of thanks for the 1983 US invasion. Liberia celebrates Thanksgiving on the first Thursday in November. The Netherlands celebrate Thanksgiving on whatever day we tell them we’re going to celebrate it in honor of the Dutch pilgrims who moved here because of the hospitality they received in Leiden on their way. The Australian territory of Norfolk Island celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of November because American whaling ships dropped by and said, let’s eat!

Now the oddest thing about this holiday around the world is that except for Grenada, no one can pin it down to an exact date. Christmas or yule is always on the 25th of December. Valentine’s day is always February 14th. The Fourth of July is always on, well, you get my point. Easter always changes dates, but I guess that’s because people are confused about how our lord and savior pooped out multicolored hard boiled eggs while coming back to life and gave them to bunnies to hide for the little kids to find.

But getting back to the point…Thanksgiving was a end of the harvest celebration for years that finally got it’s name in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared November 26th a day for all to give thanks. What people refer to as the first Thanksgiving that the pilgrims celebrated was [and I lifted this from the font of all truths, Wikipedia]:

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated to give thanks to God for guiding them safely to the New World. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 13 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. The feast consisted of fish (codeels, and bass) and shellfish (clamslobster, and mussels), wild fowl (ducksgeeseswans, and turkey), venisonberries and fruitvegetables (peaspumpkinbeetroot and possibly, wild or cultivated onion), harvest grains (barley and wheat), and the Three Sistersbeans, dried Indian maize or corn, and squash. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings” — days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.

Three days of eating and turkey was just a small part of it. Since the first pilgrims were near the coast, seafood was probably the biggest protein they consumed during this time. The holiday wasn’t as secular as it is today and I still haven’t been able to find out how the turkey became the center piece, but it seems that turkey day started in the 20th century.

I had never thought about it, but there is also some controversy associated with Thanksgiving and I quote [once again from wikipedia]:

Much like Columbus Day, Thanksgiving is seen by some as a celebration of the conquest and genocide of Native Americans by European colonists. Professor Dan Brook of UC Berkeley condemns the “cultural and political amnesia” of Americans that celebrate Thanksgiving, saying that “We do not have to feel guilty, but we do need to feel something.” Professor Robert Jensen of the University of Texas at Austin is somewhat harsher, saying that “One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.”

Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England, a protest group led by Frank “Wamsutta” James that has accused the United States and European settlers of fabricating the Thanksgiving story and whitewashing a supposed genocide and injustice against Indians, has led a National Day of Mourning protest on Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the name of social equality and in honor of political prisoners.

Another notable example of anti-Thanksgiving sentiment was when hundreds of supporters traveled to Alcatraz on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the Occupation of Alcatraz by Indians of All Tribes. The American Indian Movement also holds a negative view of Thanksgiving and has used it as a platform of protest, most notably when they took over a Mayflower float in a Thanksgiving Day parade. Some Native Americans hold “Unthanksgiving Day” celebrations in which they mourn the deaths of their ancestors, fast, dance, and pray. This tradition has been taking place since 1975. 

However, the perception of Thanksgiving among Native Americans is not universally negative. Tim Giago, founder of the Native American Journalists Organization, seeks to reconcile Thanksgiving with Native American traditions. He compares Thanksgiving to “wopila,” a thanks-giving celebration practiced by Native Americans of the Great Plains. He writes in The Huffington Post that “the idea of a day of Thanksgiving has been a part of the Native American landscape for centuries. The fact that it is also a national holiday for all Americans blends in perfectly with Native American traditions.” He also shares personal anecdotes of Native American families coming together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Jacqueline Keeler of the Dineh Nation and the Yankton Dakota Sioux also celebrates Thanksgiving. She sees it as a celebration of Wampanoag generosity to starving, impoverished colonists while still lamenting the violence that followed. Members of the Oneida Indian Nation marched in the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a float called “The True Spirit of Thanksgiving.”

Well, I guess giving thanks for successfully invading another people’s lands could piss a few people off, but it wasn’t like they didn’t have a hand in it. The Indian tribes that the first pilgrims interacted with actually gave from their food stores to help them through the winter because they didn’t have enough when they arrived.

All in all, Thanksgiving to me is just a day to gorge yourself on food. Now we just have to figure out how to get our $5 Safeway turkey that’s been in the refrigerator for two days to defrost so we can cook it today.