Ins and outs of the Dutch Christmas tradition: Gourmetten

Ins and outs of the Dutch Christmas tradition: Gourmetten

So, you’ve decided to stay in the Netherlands over the Christmas holiday and you’re celebrating the Dutch way, either because you’re visiting your other half’s family, celebrating with friends or you just want to do it like the locals. Well, you’re in for a treat - or at least, something different from your usual Christmas dinner of turkey, tons of vegetables with gravy and perhaps Yorkshire puddings; you get to go gourmetten!

What is gourmetten?

Yes, gourmetten sounds odd, but if you listen carefully, in the name there seems to be the promise of gourmet Dutch food - whether this is your opinion or not is something else entirely. So, what is it actually? Well, gourmetten is where you get tiny raclette pans (they are pretty cute if you think about it) and fry your own meat and vegetables on a sort of stove / grill, which often runs on gas or electricity.

If you were expecting a quick meal, this won’t be the case. But that’s ok because gourmetten is all about the gezellig-ness. I mean, can you get any more gezellig? Around the table with your family, all cooking together and chatting. In terms of food, you can expect oodles of different types of meats, fish and vegetables. And if that is not enough, you can always make tiny omelettes or pancakes in your pan.

If you’re trying to figure out what you can compare gourmetten to, Swiss raclette, a stone grill or perhaps Korean BBQ are the closest things. Don’t worry about only getting to eat some meat and vegetables, as usually the table is adorned with salads, baguettes and different sauces for you to add to your dish.

Where does gourmetten come from?

This is a much-speculated topic, but it is thought that gourmetten came to the Netherlands from the Dutch East Indies. Other sources say that the popularity of gourmetten in the Netherlands is the result of an extremely successful advertising campaign in the 70s by the former Dutch Meat Office.

Back then, the Dutch Meat Office saw the popularity of cheese fondue growing and, as they didn’t want cheese to become more popular than meat, decided to do something about it. At the time, however, eating meat on a daily basis was not common and housewives (liberation was yet to come) who hadn’t grown up with meat needed to learn how to cook it.

To get the Dutch population to eat more meat, two chefs were hired to tour the country and promote gourmetten to housewives and help butchers sell more meat. And, well, as you can see it definitely worked; gourmetten is now an integral part of Dutch Christmas traditions!

Will you be enjoying a gourmet Christmas?

So, will you be welcoming gourmetten into your home this year? If you are, don’t forget to be patient with the meal you are cooking and enjoy the gezellig-ness of this typical Dutch tradition! If this article has aroused your curiosity and you want to try gourmetten but don’t have the equipment, pop on down to your local Blokker or go online and get a gourmetten set for yourself.

Have you ever partaken in gourmetten? And did you like it? Let us know in the comments below!

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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