Saturday, May 23, 2009

Emigrants seek freedom but miss food

There are some news items that absolutely shock me, and here is one... When I saw the headline, I thought, "but of course... most immigrants in the Netherlands come from countries with more sophisticated culinary traditions. This is hardly a point by which the allochtonen can be discriminated against!"
For my part, I agree that I'm a "food fascist" and a "weather fascist" as I am sometimes made fun of here... harring, pancakes and toasts are by no means interesting enough for me; neither is a 5 month long winter enjoyable. But I learned not to complain (or to complain less...)
But when I read the actual article, now... that was a surprise...

Source: Marjolein Stoop, Radio Netherlands

What do deep-fried snacks, herring, mini pancakes and toasted sandwiches have in common? All of them are things that the Dutch pine for once they have emigrated.

But then they don't leave the Netherlands in search of culinary delights. The real reason is almost always to go in search of Freedom, with a capital 'F'. And that's the way it has always been, according to the exhibition Vaarwel Vaderland (Farewell Fatherland) in the Netherlands Open Air Museum in Arnhem. In a large removal crate, which has been transformed into a tiny cinema, the diary of Minister Van Raalte is read aloud. He set sail for America as early as 1846, with a group of followers. He writes:

"It was the will of God that we should leave the oppressive atmosphere in the Netherlands. It was His will that we should emigrate to the freedom and wide open spaces of America, where - with the help of God - people could enjoy greater liberty and improve their economic situation."
Less hassle

Further along, another converted removal crate tells the tale of a young migrant family who emigrated to Hungary in 2005 and founded a plant nursery. Henk Mulder explains:

"Now I have more free time than I used to have in the Netherlands. Less stress, less hassle. All those laws and rules, especially in the horticulture sector, it was all too much. You couldn't do anything any more."
The longing for a better life is indeed what drives people to leave their homeland, confirms Caroline Berkhof of the Open Air Museum. But what do they miss? Sacha de Wit is visiting the museum with her family and is soon to emigrate to Australia. She too is heading off in search of space and freedom but says she will miss the hugs from her family and friends.

And the sausage from the HEMA stores, which has become something of a national institution. And she wouldn't think of leaving without packing her toasted sandwich maker. She has found out to her horror that in Australia half a French loaf with melted cheese from the microwave is considered to be a toasted sandwich.

The exhibition Vaarwel Vaderland (Farewell Fatherland) runs until November 2009.

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