So recently my lovely friend Helen told us that she’s moving to the Netherlands! Although this kind of sucks in that we get to see her less, it’s already reaping foodie rewards in the form of delicious waffles and biscuits, and plans in the works to go visit this autumn!
One of the most curious things I’ve learnt from her about life in the Netherlands is what they eat for breakfast (and elevenses and lunch apparently too) – the fabulously named hagelslag. Hagelslag means hailstorm in dutch, which makes it officially the first and only dutch word that I have ever learned.
What this is – apart from the wish fulfillment of eight year olds worldwide – is a piece of buttered bread or toast, covered with chocolate or other flavoured sprinkles! Yes, the stuff that we would have on ice cream or a cake, is regularly consumed as part of a balanced (?) breakfast in the Netherlands. Is it a coincidence that the country regularly shows up as one of the happiest country’s in the world?
De Ruijter is one of the most popular sprinkle brands, and they say that 600 million hagerslag sandwiches are eaten every year – that’s about a months worth for everyone in the country. And it doesn’t just stop at chocolate – you can browse a whole aisle of hagerslag options, ranging from toffee, banana, aniseed, strawberry, and blue and pink coloured sprinkles for baby showers.
INTERESTINGLY (or at least to those of us who love sprinkles), Australia has a similar tradition: fairy bread. A favourite at children’s birthday parties, fairy bread (what an adorable name!) is white bread, buttered, with colourful sprinkles on top. I can see that kids would definitely love that and it’s so whimsical and goshdarned easy that I’m pretty sure I’d be on board if I were a parent.
Since I am lucky enough to have been given a box of hagerslag sprinkles, I decided to give it a go – in the name of science, of course! It’s easy to try at home even if you don’t have some genuine dutch sprinkles – just use whatever you have on hand (I love these pretty rainbow ones!). You can eat your hagerslag on toasted or untoasted bread, with butter (or even peanut butter – yum!).
It was delicious, tasting pretty similar to nutella on toast, although with an interesting contrast with the salted butter. BUT I can’t imagine eating it for breakfast every time – it’s so sugary (and I love sugar!). How do the dutch stay so lean – all that cycling? Although jam is pretty full of sugar too, so perhaps we can’t judge! And, if unicorns exist, this is definitely what they’d be eating for breakfast.
Did you know about hagelslag, or fairy bread? Do you eat it? Is it odd?
PS If you’re intruiged to know what other odd things the dutch are getting up to, check out this website – Stuff Dutch People Like