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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in the Netherlands Series at DutchPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Dutch holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 20, Dutch Herring Festival. In Dutch, it's called [Hollandse Nieuwe] meaning “New Dutch herring.”
This holiday is held to celebrate the herring growing large enough to be caught and consumed. Around May, herring become plump enough for consumption, and this is celebrated all over the Netherlands.
In this lesson, you’ll learn how Dutch people eat New Dutch herring and how they spend the time of year when it’s tastiest!
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
What tradition is related to the first catch of New Dutch herring?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
New Dutch herring is also referred to by a Dutch term meaning “virgin herring.” Dutch people call the fish virgin, since the young fish have yet to develop roe, or [kuit] in Dutch.
Every year, herring go through the same cycle. In the winter months, they are small and skinny, and in the spring or [lente] in Dutch, they begin to grow due to the new abundance of plankton present in the water. In May, when the fat percentage of most herring reaches around 16 percent, it’s open season for fishing.
The traditional Dutch method of curing herring is to keep it in salt. In the past, herring would be caught and distributed throughout the Netherlands via the town of [Vlaardingen]. Because transporting the fish to the backcountry took time, they were kept in salt, or [zout], to preserve them longer. The salt seeped into their bodies, making them taste saltier as well. This explains why, even to this day, in places like Brabant, saltier herring is the local favorite. Locals of Amsterdam like eating bigger herring, while those in Rotterdam prefer smaller ones.
In Rotterdam and many other cities, people consume herring by grabbing it by its tail and dragging it around in shredded onions. Then, they hold the herring above their mouth and eat it from head to tail. In Amsterdam, however, people prefer cutting up the herring into pieces first, so they can be eaten along with the onions, or [uitjes], sitting on the plate. However, some people say that this is a snooty way of eating herring.
A green, or [groene], herring is the freshest and most delicious of all that can be found in the Netherlands. This herring is salted and eaten immediately after being caught on the ship. Nowadays, green herring is no longer allowed because legally it must first be frozen for twenty-four hours before consumption. Without doing so, there is a risk of contamination, or [besmetting], and thus it is prohibited.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What tradition is related to the first catch of New Dutch herring?
When the new herring is brought in, the tradition in Amsterdam is to decorate the herring trucks and ships with small flags. However, the ships are only decorated if the catch was a success.
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever eaten herring by the Dutch method?
Leave us your comments on DutchPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.