Do you know that in Holland we celebrate the start of the summer season with a food product in the same way as the French start their winter? In France everybody knows that the first bottles of Beaujolais Primeur indicate that winter is starting. In Holland, our summer starts when we eat our famous salted Dutch herring…
In the first weeks of June we celebrate “vlaggetjesdag”, when the fishermen arrive with the first salted herring of the season. And we do not have wine: no, we drink beer or our traditional jenever when we enjoy eating raw herring.
It is a typical seasonal product. The herrings are at their best when they are almost jumping out of the sea!
History of Dutch herring
Did you know that our salted herring is a true Dutch finding? In the Middle Ages, in the late 14th century, the special way of prepping salted herring was invented by Willem Beuckelsz in Biervliet in Zeeland. It is called ‘gibbing’, and means the immature herrings are ripened in oak barrels in a salty solution.
The gibbing is done on board of the fishermans ships. So they are ready to eat when the herring fleet enters the harbour.
Eating salted herring is healthy for you. Immature herrings contain much rich oil, and also vitamines and minerals. This combination is a boost for your brains: it makes you smart!
Typical Dutch food
For years, Vlaardingen was called the national herring city. After the second world war, the tradition of vlaggetjesdag was set up by Scheveningen, the fishermen town nearby The Hague. In restaurants you can eat herring as fine dining. At home and at fish food trucks we eat them as we are as typical Dutchmen: fresh, no nonsense and straight forward. We eat them raw, in one piece, add some pickles: it is like fish at its best! And to let the herrings swim, we drink beer or jenever. This is our double Dutch treat from Scheveningen. Try it!