Leading up to the creation of Feastivals, I attended a number of food festivals in and around Amsterdam that inspired me. With Amsterdam locked in the salty nautical embrace of SAIL this weekend, It’s a good time to look back at one of my favorites, Kwaku!
Prior to moving to the Netherlands, I had little exposure to the Indonesian, Surinamese, and Antillean cultures. The Dutch empire at one point extended around the world and involved itself in many cultures including these. The time of empire is now long past, but walking around Amsterdam today you still see the footprints left by the subjects of the old empire on their capital. Music, fashion, and (very near and dear to my heart) food are all touched by these peoples from near and far.
Kwaku presents itself as a Surinamese festival, but I found representation there from many corners of the old Dutch empire and beyond. Additionally, when I tried to find the seams between each group, it was often difficult. One booth might sell a food that is traditionally Indonesian, but prepared in a Surinamese way for example. Hiding amongst all of this were stands for many types of Caribbean food I didn’t even expect to see like Jamaican Jerk BBQ and traditional shaved ice. I think the word of the Surinamese poet Dobru might summarize this phenomenon best:
so many leaves
so many creeks
all are going to one sea
so many thoughts
thoughts among,which one good one must be
so many ways of worshipping
but one Father
so many hair types
so many skin colors
so many tongues
Let’s get to it.
Everywhere I looked at this feastival there was food, food, and more food. So many of the food stands were basically selling the same thing. Not since my time at home with the food festivals of Louisiana have I seen so much overlap from tent to tent and booth to booth. BBQ, bara, sweets, fish, and the curious mix of sausage I’ll introduce you to later were the big favorites. With any of these, there were at least five tents you could choose between.
Simultaneously one of the most wonderful and bizarre things I’ve ever tasted. The combo of bloedwurst, fleeswurst, and fladder (often just referred to collectively as fladder) fresh from a pot of broth and onions sliced a la minute and served with an ultra-spicy sauce the color of a caution traffic sign is just magical. Let me present to you the four stages of fladder consumption.