Considering the ‘baby boom’ around me, I thought it would be fun to tell you something about a Dutch food tradition around births. When I was first thinking about doing this 30 Day Blog Challenge at the beginning of July, I hade 4 pregnant girlfriends: as of this weekend the count has gone downe to 1! My first friend had her baby girl on July 7th, my second friend had a baby boy (the second one) on July 24th and last weekend another friend (that I’ve known since I was 11 years old) texted me that she gave birth to a baby boy. Now there’s only one friend left, she’s due to give birth somewhere in the beginning of September.
In Holland we don’t have baby showers before the baby is born, instead we visit our family/friends after they had their baby. During this visit the traditional food ‘Beschuit met muisjes’ will be served to celebrate the birth of the baby. Literally translated ‘Beschuit met muisjes’ means ‘biscuits with mice’. Beschuit are round flat breads that have been baked twice, causing them to become crunchy and somewhat brittle: they are comparable with rusks. The beschuit is ‘buttered’ with either butter or margarine, after which they are decorated with ‘muisjes’.
The tradition of celebrating a birth with beschuit met muisjes goes back to the 17th century. It was thought that the anise was good for the mother’s milk, that it would ease the contractions in the womb and that it would drive away evil spirits. The name ‘muisjes’ was derived from their resemblance to the shape of a mouse, with the stem of the anise seed resembling a tail, as well as the fact that the mouse was seen as a fertility symbol. Beschuit met muisjes was originally eaten only by the upper class. The lower classes would celebrate a birth by eating white bread, topped with sugar. The ‘muisjes’ are sugared anise seeds: white & blue for a boy and pink & blue for a girl. When a child is born into the Royal family (House of Orange), orange ‘muisjes’ are sold.