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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sint Maarten Wafels (St Martin Waffles)

November 11th is an important date in Holland. For children, it marks St. Maarten's day, the day kids venture out in the evening carrying small candles in paper lanterns to sing songs at each door and get candy or fruit in return.

Prince Carnaval 1973
For the grownups, "the eleventh of the eleventh" at 11:11am initiates the beginning of the famous Carnaval season. It is the day that the new Prince Carnaval is elected, who in turn announces his "adjudant" or helper, and the "Raad van Elf", the eleven organizers who will be tasked with setting up parties, parades and ofcourse, determine the theme of this year's carnaval. The number 11 has, since old times, been the number for fools and simpletons.

But back to St. Maarten, one of the most recognizable saints in Catholicism. For him November 11 wasn't such a good day, as that is the day he was buried. On his way to somewhere, St Maarten saw a poor beggar by the side of the road who needed protection from the cold. St. Maarten cut his coat in two and gave the man one half, later having a vision about Jesus wearing half of his cape. The next day, when he woke up, the cape was miraculously restored.

Whether this ritual was originally pagan (carrying lit candles or "holy" fire around the neighborhood at dark was part of a fertility ritual that was a widespread custom in Western Europe at the time) or traditionally religious in nature (on November 11, the reading of the Bible is verse 11:33 of the book of Luke, ""No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light."). Either way, it is a begging fest, much needed during the lacking winter months. It was definitely a festivity for the poor, as one song indicates:

Hier woont een rijk man,
Here lives a rich man
Die ons wat geven kan.
Give us something sure he can
Geef een appel of een peer:
Give an an apple or a pear
We komen ’t hele jaar niet meer.
We won't come around for another year

As with many things, these festivities usually find place in the southern, mostly Catholic, region of the country. The kids in the northern regions however have caught on to this free candy thing and now, too, stroll the dark nights. After having collected enough candy the kids gather with their parents at the town square where a huge bonfire is lit to celebrate the end of the evening. Most paper lanterns end up in the bonfire, and children are handed hot chocolate and waffles to warm up.

St Maarten Wafels
2 cups of self-rising flour
2 eggs
1 cup of milk, warm
1/2 stick of butter
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon

Mix the flour and the eggs, melt the butter in the warm milk, add the salt and cinnamon and beat everything together into a smooth batter. Heat up the waffle iron and bake waffles golden. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar and serve warm.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting story for such a simple recipe. I do not know which I like better, the story or the recipe!!! I'll play it safe and choose both!! Very well done.

    ReplyDelete

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