Thursday, February 23, 2012

where I succumb to the power of suggestion

The other day, Nora posted a picture on her blog. It was an innocuous photo, that had nothing to do with her post. She did mention to me that she had thought of me as she put it in her post after I wrote to her saying I now needed to go out and buy the product. The picture was of a litre carton of a Dutch custard called vla, nicely place in a lush green field. (I'd also like that green field, but apparently a snow storm is on its way). Vla comes in various flavours, like chocolate and banana, but by far the best flavour is vanilla.

I was introduced to vla when I lived in Holland many, many years ago. The family I was billeted with for for my first six months introduced me to many of the common Dutch foods, which had I been staying on my own (as I was for the rest of my time there) I would never had known about. Every night they had yogourt for dessert. every freaking night. This was back in the late 1970s and yoghourt was not as much of a staple food yet. It was also very different than any yogourt that we had in Canada. This was plain yogourt and not sweetened in any way and it had an entirely different consistency. We added our own sugar, which were large granules. Having been used to only refined sugar, these granules were a wonderfully tasty novelty and I added lots of them to my yoghourt. Then, one night a boat of this custard appeared on the table along with the bowl of yoghourt. Not being sure what the custom was, I watched as everyone spooned up the yoghourt into their plates (I seem to remember we used plates instead of bowls) and then poured a dollop of this custard on top. Then they gently swirled it all together. I followed suit. Yummy. Or to use the Dutch vernacular, lekker. Who would have ever thought of mixing custard and yoghourt together? The correct proportion of vla to yoghourt will yield a delectable flavour burst of tart and sweet.

It has become comfort food to me now, second only to warm rice pudding.

But Nora also asked, ever so innocently, in her email if, when I went to the Dutch Shop, I would also buy hagelslag, which are chocolate sprinkles. I hadn't planned on it. I have almost gotten myself sick of chocolate and Nutella over the Christmas season.
But then, I thought about how good that would be, on fresh, white bread with a thick layer of butter holding all the little sprinkles in place....

except I came home and realized I only had rye bread. and no plain yoghourt.

no worries.
I've been under the weather, I deserve comforting

thanks, Nora.
now I will just try to not think about how much I paid for this treat
(4.47 euros - go ahead, break my heart and tell me how much it really costs)

I tend not to look at too many of the items in this store since everything but the fresh foods is imported, it tends to be rather expensive. And pretty much everything of the other kitchen supplies you can now get here and not only in Europe. Except for this one thing I have been searching for in vain for years.

and there, on top of the deli counter, for some inexplicable reason was a jar full of these.

This must be the best kitchen utensil since the spoon - a flessenlikker, literally a bottle licker.

And on the link I added for the wikipedia explanation of vla I discovered that this implement was actually designed to get all that liquidy goodness out of the tall glass bottles it originally came in. Unfortunately, vla now comes in cartons which still makes getting all of it out difficult. Apparently it is almost unknown outside the Netherlands. I can't wait until I need it to scrape the sides of the Nutella jar.


  1. That is one cool utensil.

  2. I think you got cheated on your vla and hagelslag. I think I pay 49 cents for a liter of vla. I don't remember what I pay for hagelslag because it's been a while since I bought it, but it is a very small amount of money. Still, when you have a craving for it, any amount of money is worth it. Yogurt and vla together is called a vla-flip. We don't mix it but pour them into a bowl simultaneously, so it doesn't mix but sit side by side. You can also add berry sauce on the top. The best way to eat yogurt is to not add any sugar at all. The sour taste is good after dinner. In a vla-flip it is perfect. I'm glad you got to enjoy your hagelslag on top of the vla. That was a good idea.

  3. Delores: you have no idea how excited I was to see this! it is unbelievable that it hasn't become as universal as the regular spatula.

  4. Nora: yes, I know I was 'cheated', but when you go to specialty shops they get away with the price gouging.

    ah, yes - pouring it together. I'd forgotten that bit. I just stir it very gently so that it is not completely mixed. I've never had it with fruit or sauce on top. I only like it with natural or plain yoghourt - not even fruit flavoured. It must be that sweet sour combo.

  5. Gotta love the remembering of long ago flavors that made a meal special. Glad you could reenact it. Enjoy

  6. I remember discovering haelslag when I went to visit a friend in Holland. What an amazing discovery!

  7. Fun to find you in a different place. Except now I'm starving to death.

  8. Oh, my. Custard. Rice pudding. I am baffled. Let's just say the consistency does not work for me.

    But that is a cool spoon thingy.

  9. SAW, I understand. I cannot stand mousse. Not even chocolate mousse. But pudding, oh yes.

  10. Absolutely interesting post. Learned so much about Dutch comfort food. I love rice pudding but especially cold ambrosia devon creamed rice - a British thingey.

  11. Hope you are feeling better.
    The kitchen utensil looks like a really useful one!


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