‘Snert’ is a beautiful Dutch word and it’s powers are very underestimated. It can be used as a bit of a cute swear word (resembling ‘shoot!’) and as such it is also used to describe the weather (‘snertweer’), which generally means it’s raining cats and dogs, there’s a huge storm and you freeze to death if you go outside. But mainly ‘snert‘ is pea soup (erwtensoep). And the perfect weather for that kind of snert is now. It’s really cold, and it has been cold for quite some time now. Almost all open water is frozen and lots of those ponds, ditches and canals are suitable for skating! So, all the people in the Netherlands grab their Unox tuque (hey, that’s what Wikipedia says is the proper translation for ‘muts‘), retrieve their skates from the attics or basements, put on an extra layer of clothes, and off they go. I remember that as a kid we used the nearby nature reserve (it was strictly forbidden to enter because of the wildlife, I got in serious trouble once during summer for trespassing) which had a little pond (to me it was a lake, but now that I’m a grown up I know it was a pond, and quite little to anyone’s standards). It was bustling with people, there was a snack stand, there were lights for late night skating, and there was music (played quite loudly). But only if there was ice. All the locals would drag their (unwilling) families to the ice rink and we would skate like there was no tomorrow. I hated skating, I was so terrible and I fell a lot. In some very sarcastic lapse of judgment some guy invented ice. While doing so he thought of the specifics of ice and he said to himself: it has to be cold, really bloodcurdling cold. And he asked himself: what else could I make this ice be that is so horrible to little girls when they’re learning how to skate? Ah yes, it has to be rock hard, so that when they bounce their little girly bottoms on the ice when they fall, they feel as if they’re bums are frostbroken off! I was the most unlucky sod in the entire universe, because I didn’t generally fall on my tiny behind. I fell on my knees, my arms, my shoulders, my hips, anything but the one place I might have grown some fatty tissue, and especially those places where there were lots of bones sticking through. I was a big fan of the snack stand, though. And I would spend my entire savings of the previous year on candy my mother never bought me. I ate Mars bars, Nuts, Raiders (now they’re called Twix, so cruel!), Snickers, anything sweet and chocolatey.
When after a day of skating and falling we (my siblings and I) would come home to the warmth of the kitchen, my mother would, like all good Dutch housewives, have a pot of steaming snert ready. Snert is what you eat when it’s super cold, and you’ve been out and about, suffering. And don’t you dare eat snert without rookworst!
Today I’ve been out and about, not really suffering, but I thought snert would be a good meal. I’m not suffering much because I have the greatest outdoor jacket for extremely cold circumstances. It’s meant for skiing, but honestly, it’s great when you’re cycling through cold and freezy Holland (ok, I don’t live in Holland, but for the sake of things I’ll just imagine I did today). I also have skiing gloves. I have a wool tuque (come on, muts is a great word as well!), I have a nice shawl and I put on an extra layer as well: I tucked some nice tights under my trousers (also made out of wool). The first ten minutes or so I’m a bit cold, but then I’m warming up (cycling is hard work) and after another ten minutes I have to start taking things of, I open the zipper of my coat, I take off my gloves and sometimes I end up looking like I forgot to put on anything warm and cozy. I use skiing equipment because that does the trick quite nicely. My friend always uses clothes meant for horse riding. She’s actually quite good at horse riding, so she’s a legitimate owner of that kind of equipment. I don’t really ski. I love it, but it’s like ice skating. I suck. I get downhill quite quickly, but not really in a way that looks like skiing, it’s more bum-sliding with skis on. Quite artistic if you try to do it intentionally, but I’d rather be standing up. But what can I say, I’m a natural, you might even think I have thing for frozen water.
About the snert: it has a great subtly distinguished taste. It’s not too outspoken, and it’s generally soft and easy on the taste buds. Well, it’s not really easy on the taste buds if you’re way to hungry to wait a few seconds. It stays hot for a longer period than the average hot substances and you might want to take it easy for the first few bites, or you’ll end up with a burning sensation in your mouth that prevents your taste buds from tasting anything. Which might be just what you’re looking for, but I wasn’t intentionally setting out to burn my gums and tongue. But I did anyway. The beauty of life, eh?
250 g split peas
1 big carrot (winterwortel/winterpeen)
1 L water
2 bouillon cubes
100 g celeriac
100 g bacon
150 g pork chop (or basicly any kind of meat that can be cooked, usually a cheap type of meat is used)
(1 rookworst -if you can get any and if you want to-)
Wash the split peas and cook them in 1 L of water with the bacon and pork for 60 minutes.Cut up the vegetables vegetables and add them after the peas and meat have been cooked for 1 hour. Also add all the other ingredients. Let it cook for an additional 30 minutes. If you want to include a rookworst, you also want that in for the last 30 minutes. Take out the big pieces of meat, cut them up in smaller bits and put them back in (leave the rookworst out). Take your stickblender and get at it. It’s ok if it’s not completely smooth, but you should get most of the texture out, including the meat. Slice up the rookworst and put it back in. Serve!
peas: 100-200 km
celeriac: 50-100 km
carrot: 10-50 km
bacon: 10-50 km
onion: 2,5 km
garlic: 2,5 km (I had some garlic in it too)
leek: 10-50 km
potato: 10-50 km
rookworst: 100-200km (if not even further away)
I did pretty local, didn’t I? I bought my veggies at an organic supermarket (they only sell organic stuff) and they had tags at every veggie saying where it was from. For the snert I only bought vegetables from the Netherlands. Oh, and they sold avocados from Spain, so I might not have to move to Peru after all =D. Next to this supermarket is an organic butcher, he only sells organic meat, and they know everything about the meat they’re selling. They might even know the name of the cow or pig that you’ll be eating. I only bought the bacon there, but I’ll definitely return to buy some more great and local meat!