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May 2 2022

Erwtensoep From The Netherlands

Ulm, Germany - On 27 April much of the Netherlands takes on an orange colour. It is King Willem-Alexander's birthday and the Dutch therefore celebrate 'Koningsdag' or King's Day – a national holiday. Public celebrations for the birthday of the King or Queen have a long tradition, and the first Queen's Day was celebrated in 1891. In 1949, after Queen Juliana ascended the throne, national celebrations were held each year on her birthday, 30 April. This date had the added political advantage that it was one day before international workers/labour day. As such the royalist celebration preceded the socialist one, and usually the Queen's Day parties were such fun that few people were fit to march or demonstrate on the 1st of May. When Queen Beatrix succeeded Juliana she decided to keep the tradition of the national holiday on April 30 to honour her mother. Perhaps the fact that her own birthday was on 31 January also played a role; the Dutch weather around this date is generally not conductive to street parties and other outdoor festivities. After Willem-Alexander's accession to the throne in 2013, the tradition reverted back to celebrating the monarch's actual birthday.


While the Netherlands (not Holland!) are currently planning to fill 11 positions/one football team at the Joint Support and Enabling Command, there are currently 7 Dutchmen in Ulm: the Chief of Staff, Major General Richard Laurijssen, Colonel Henk Paape, the civilian Political Adviser, Sergei Boeke, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Ligtenberg, Lt.Col Erik Kos, Maj. Marc Westendorp, Master Sergeant Hans van Deelen. On King's Day they can probably be identified by their orange hat, tie, glasses, wig, clothing, or FFP2 Facemask.

The Netherlands are not particularly well known for their cuisine or cooking skills...

The Netherlands are not particularly well known for their cuisine or cooking skills. The Dutch are one of the few peoples who enjoy eating raw fish, and raw herring (with or without onions) is very popular. The standard operating procedure is to buy the fish at a street stall, hold it by the tail, lift it up high and then slide it down your throat. Other delicacies are for example the kroket and frikandel – fried snacks. For those visiting Dutch military installations, and who have become concerned about the food on offer after reading this article, Wednesday is a good day to choose. Initially a Royal Netherlands Navy tradition, Wednesday was the day when Indonesian food was served; often a 'rice table' with many spicy side dishes. It was called the 'blauwe hap' (the blue bite), and it is very good.


A Dutch dish that is not difficult to cook is the traditional Split Pea Soup (Erwtensoep or Snert). It is a thick, hearty soup that features green split peas simmered down with pork, carrots, leeks, onions and leeks. It is often served with (smoked) sausage and rye bread. The soup is a bit like a stew and the purists let it simmer for quite some time. It is ideal for a cold winter's day, after returning from an afternoon skating on the frozen Dutch lakes and canals. Unfortunately, the days that the canals freeze over have now become rare, but on the upside a good tin of Erwtensoep can be found in every supermarket and is ready to serve after a few minutes. Eet Smakelijk!

Story by Joint Support and Enabling Command

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