When you think of the Netherlands, do you think of ice skating on the canals? Considering that Dutch speed skaters hold the record for Olympic speed skating medals, both in combined medals, and in gold medals, it’s not surprising that skating on the canals is a national sport. More challenging is the training for one of the largest and longest canal skating races, the Elfstedentocht, which is only held in years when the weather allows for the canals to freeze. The race name means “Eleven Cities Tour” and includes a speed skating competition for elite skaters and a gentle, slower tour of the cities for everyone else. Racers go first, then the thousands (yes, thousands) of other skaters take off. The winner may finish in just 6 hours, but all finishers must complete the race by midnight. Adding to the excitement, the announcement of the race, which is completely dependent upon the weather, is made a meager 48 hours before the race is held. Strict measurements of the ice are performed; it must be almost six inches deep, then the announcement can be made, and participants and fans head to Friesland, a northern province, about 70 miles from Amsterdam.
You may not be surprised to learn that the tour, first held in 1909, has been held only 15 times in the intervening years, the last one was staged in 1997, and the ensuing 22 years have been the longest gap between tours in its 110-year history.
As you may have surmised, the country was yet again disappointed this year because the winter weather conditions never allowed the tour to be held. The last champion of the event, a farmer in his early 50’s, says he wants another race, and another champion of the Elfstedentocht. He says “It will happen.”
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The Dutch Mainstay: Douwe Egberts
Egbert Douwes and his wife Akke opened a grocery store in Joure, Netherlands, in 1753, selling products that “add to the pleasures of daily existence” – coffee and tea leading the list of best-sellers. Today, Douwe Egberts still makes delicious coffee (and tea) and is still wildly popular in the Netherlands, and beyond. Read on about some of our favorites below.
Douwe Egberts Best Sellers Available in Ground and Whole Bean
Douwe Egberts Excellent Aroma coffee is a blend of 100% Arabica beans, delivering a perfectly balanced, medium roast coffee, with a great aroma.
Douwe Egberts Aroma Rood coffee is a medium roast, medium strength coffee made with Arabica and Robusta beans.
Douwe Egberts Mocca Aroma coffee is stronger, with a darker roast and flavor, with spicy, chocolate and fruit notes.
The Netherlands In The News
These two stories came to our attention and set us wondering. The first is from a Dutch food producer and local grocer, Hema, who makes an iconic Dutch food, smoked sausage. The chain announced they are making a vegan version of the sausage, and eventually, want to offer vegan versions of all of their products, foods like sausage rolls and apple pie.
In more vegan news, a British man from a family of 3 generations of dairy farmers has created and is selling vegan cheese in Holland. Motivated by his own diet choices, he began experimenting with plant-based cheeses, and is now selling them at markets in Amsterdam. He stated he found the Dutch to be more open to new things, and therefore, willing to explore plant-based cheeses. His products, he said, address his own personal concerns about sustainability. And speaking of sustainability…
Coffee + Orange = Soap
A business collective that is dedicated to upcycling organic waste streams has created soap, both bar and liquid versions, that use coffee grounds and orange peels. Coffee grounds are a great natural scrub, with the citrus helping to boost the skin’s appearance and add a gentle fragrance. Today, a peel-recycling company supplies the oranges, which come from grocers and other stores that press fresh juice. The coffee grounds come from many sources, but the plan is to eventually collect them from offices and hotels. In case you are wondering, they clean them! The grounds and peels are treated to make them safe and to meet all Dutch regulations on soap and cosmetics.
As always, enjoy better coffee and thanks from the EnjoyBetterCoffee Team!