Monday, October 4, 2010

Independence Day

The city of Leiden celebrates Independence Day on October 3rd.  Back in 1574 the Spanish Army surrounded the town and tried the starve the residents into submission.  The siege lasted for almost a year and a third of the town's residents perished.  But the people remained loyal to the House of Orange (i.e. Dutch Royalty) and refused to submit.  As a demonstration of his love for the people, the mayor purportedly offered to let the townspeople eat him.  I guess starvation looked to be the better option because the townsfolk didn't take him up on that offer. 

Anyway, William, Prince of Orange finally came to their rescue by breaking down the dikes and flooding out the Spanish Army.  The Spanish left in such a hurry that their dinner was still on the campfire.  It consisted of a pot of potatoes, onions, carrots and some fish or meat.  Of course the ravenous Leidener thought it delicious and they've been eating this meal ever since.  It's called Hutspot and it's essentially a pot roast.  However, you will never find a piece of beef in all of Holland that's big enough to be called pot roast so they use chunks of meat.  A traditional Hutspot also mashes the potatoes, onions and carrots together which the Dutch love to do for reasons that have yet to be explained to me. 

Besides tucking into a meal of Hutspot, the Leideners celebrate their independence with a fair.  You may wonder what a European fair is like?  Much like those in the US.  Carnival rides, all kinds of stands selling food that is unhealthy, all kinds of stands selling beer that is expensive and lots of people who look like they have visited too many of the stands.  But it was a beautiful day, we rode our bikes and it was fun. 

For those of you craving additional Dutch history, William, Prince of Orange, was also known as William the Silent.  The origin of this name is not fully known, but it is thought to have originated from his ability to extract information from other nobles without saying much himself.  Perhaps a lesson for current day diplomats? 

He was very well liked by the people and came to be known as Father of the Fatherland.  The Dutch national anthem is written in his honor.  He was assassinated several years later by a man named Gerard who was caught shortly after committing the crime.  Wikipedia describes his punishment:  Gérard was caught before he could flee Delft, and imprisoned. He was tortured before his trial on 13 July, where he was sentenced to be brutally — even by the standards of that time — killed. The magistrates sentenced that the right hand of Gérard should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disemboweled alive, that his heart should be torn from his bosom and flung in his face, and that, finally, his head should be cut off. 

And with that cheery note, I am off to begin preparing our family's hutspot. 

Grant and Lori were brave enough to ride the "Break Dance".  Lots of very fast spinning.  Mark stayed on the sidelines to take pictures

An interesting haunted house

People Everywhere

What Dutch picture is complete without a windmill?

As the "Break Dance" ride started up, this guy stood on the platform to rotate the cars.  He stayed on a lot longer than I would have

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