Sometimes when I read a book or watch a TV show or movie, I get a bit distracted by the food the characters eat. I don’t care whether it’s a real, existing meal such as the Dutch recipe Hutspot I’m about to talk about, or if it’s made up (such as much of the food in Harry Potter). Either way, I always want to know more about it.
Does that happen to you too? I’ve decided to pair up reviews with recipes that accompany the book, show, or film that I’ve enjoyed. If you’re like me and you want to eat your way through your fictional escapes, then welcome to my new feature – Feasts from Fiction!
First up – a review of Six of Crows and a recipe for a delicious Dutch recipe for Hutspot!
Six of Crows
In the novel Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo you’ll be introduced to the rough, dark, seedy streets of Ketterdam, a fantasy-slash-dystopian version of Amsterdam. Ruling the streets is mastermind thief Kaz Brekker, head of a crew known as The Dregs who work out of The Barrel – one of the worst parts of Ketterdam.
(Haven’t read it yet? You can get a copy of Six of Crows right here!)
Kaz has a thirst for two things – revenge and money. In the words of The Godfather, he’s given an offer he can’t refuse and sets out with his band of merry criminals to pull off an impossible heist for impossible riches.
When you combine a vengeful convict, a gun aficionado with a gambling problem, a wall-scaling spy, a thief, a runaway, and a magical woman known as a Heartrender, you know that they may be risking everything for cash, but that they’ll build a hell of a story along the way.
Six of Crows – my review
It’s so hard to write more about the storyline because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. Suffice it to say it involves more than one jailbreak and life or death survival.
What I found especially fascinating about this story was that on paper, none of the characters should be likable. A bunch of criminals? Really? Who would root for them. Well, as it turns out, I would. And you probably will too.
I love all the main characters to be honest, but if I was pressed to pick one favourite, I’d have to choose Kaz. He’s not a good person, but in flashbacks you start to learn WHY he’s not. And he’s not a bad person either, he’s a complex character and I could read an entire book just about him from his point of view.
(But if I could choose two favourites, I’d add Inej the “wraith” who is far more talented than I am when it comes to scaling buildings with nothing but her bare hands and a lot of courage.)
Kaz and Food – Hutspot
At one point in the book Kaz has a flashback – and I will not spoil it for you as it’s somewhat pivotal to his particular storyline outside of the heist plot – where he remembers eating something called Hutspot. He reminisces as such:
Mister Hertzoon was a big man with a ruddy, friendly fast and tufty gray sideburns. His wife, Margit, pinched Kaz’s cheeks and fed him hutspot made with smoked sausage, and he’d played in the kitchen with their daughter, Saskia.
There was no further description but I immediately imagined a dish with chopped potatoes, carrots that are boiled or roasted until they’re soft, maybe some onions, and some kind of smoked sausage like Kielbasa. It turns out that I was damn close. The only thing I was missing is that the vegetables are all boiled until softened and then mashed together, served with the sliced sausage (or any other meat, such as braised beef) on the side.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Hutspot and how good it must taste. It sounded like quintessential comfort food. I fired up Google and learned that it’s a very traditional Dutch dish and it can be eaten on its own or with meat served alongside.
And that’s when Feasts from Food was born because I knew I had to try this for myself.
Hutspot is something I would suggest to anyone who needs just a little comfort. It’s definitely a nice hearty meal for the dead of winter, but it’s also a perfect fit for any old rainy, gloomy day. I sort of picture the book’s Ketterdam as being perpetually gloomy no matter the season, so I would eat this any time of year.
What’s especially interesting to me is that there isn’t a lot of seasoning involved and the ingredients are quite mild, yet the combined flavours are just delicious. The potato is hearty and really stretches the volume of the meal. The carrot adds a certain earthy sweetness while the onion adds a small amount of tanginess. The only seasoning I added was garlic powder, mostly because I don’t know how to cook without garlic!
Add in the butter and milk for creaminess, mash it all up, and serve it with some kind of sausage and it’s just a mildly flavourful delight! Considering the sheer amount of curry, hot sauce, and garlic that I normally enjoy adding to various foods, this could almost be seen as bland but it just isn’t. My mouth is literally watering as I type this up. I could eat a bowl right now.
Like I said, it can be served as a main dish, but I enjoy pairing it with something. The first time I sliced and just quickly pan-fried some kielbasa to go with it; the second time I used leftover cheese-stuffed bratwurst sausage and that was even better!
I’ve made it twice so far – both on days where it poured down rain – and did a little tweaking from the various recipes I had found until I found something that worked for me.
Want to go to Ketterdam and try some Hutspot? Mind the gambling bars and houses of pleasure, let’s just go eat.
- 6-7 medium to large potatoes
- 2 bags of baby carrots (or about 5 large carrots)
- 2 medium onions
- Butter or margarine
- Milk (I used unflavoured, unsweetened almond milk)
- Garlic powder to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sliced, cooked sausage such as kielbasa, pepperoni, or leftover sausage
- Chop carrots to about 1-inch pieces, put in a pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, wash, peel, and chop up your potatoes. I don't always peel my potatoes but for this recipe it felt like peels would mess up the texture. Place in a separate pot. Chop onion roughly, and place on top of potatoes. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil.
- Once carrots are soft enough to be pierced with a fork, add them to the potatoes. Continue boiling until potatoes are soft.
- Drain everything and return all vegetables to the larger pot. Add butter or margarine, and milk to your taste. Start mashing. I've learned that no matter how soft your carrots seem to be, mashing them into the potatoes is a workout. If you get tired, an immersion blender is very helpful.
- Once mashed, stir in garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately, it goes quite nicely in a large bowl. Serve sausage on top of the mash.
- Optional: Leave out the sausage for a vegetarian meal, or substitute any meat you want such as braised beef, roast chicken, etc. I ate some leftover hutspot with medium-boiled eggs and cheese for brunch once. Delicious!
Let me know if you make this recipe and what you think! What food in fiction makes you drool? I’d love to try to create it!
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