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Gourmetten or Raclette?

21 February 2009

When my parents came to visit me for the first time after I moved to England, I asked them to bring me a present, a Dutch Gourmet Set. Gourmetten (verb) is a tradition in Holland and everyone does it. I wanted to get myself a gourmet set in England but I could not find them anywhere. When I invited friends around to our house for an evening of Gourmetten, all of them told me they thought it was the most fabulous thing to do with friends and asked me where they could buy a Gourmet Set. I never knew the answer.

But what is it, I hear you ask. Well, it is kind of like Raclette (which is not the word we would use in Dutch, hence for years I thoguht I could not buy the Gourmet Set in England, only to find out I needed to look for a Raclette Set which is available at John Lewis!)

We all know the Swiss thing that is Raclette: melted cheese and bits of meat & bread to dip in to the melted cheese.

In Holland, we have given it a twist that has become THE most popular thing to do with friends and family around. The Dutch way is to use the top grill plate to grill meat & fish. The little pans at the bottom, traditionally used to melt the cheese that you then pour over the meat or fish, are used for side dishes. Like what, I hear you ask. Well, think of chopped onions, mushrooms, bacon lardons, eggs, spring onions, mini-potatoes etc. Everyone basically makes their own food in their own little pan and they can do whatever they want and make yummie or yukkie combinations.

Add a nice salad, some sauces, wine & bread and you basically make your own dinner. Great fun. In Holland, they make preparing all this even easier because at the supermarket or butcher, you simply buy a ready-made Gourmet Dish: a tray of meat such as chicken, hamburgers, steak, pork fillet etc, cut up in bite-sized pieces.

Recently, my folks visited again and since my Gourmet Set was broken, I asked them to bring me a new one. Clearly my mother thought you coudl not buy meat in England so she not only brought us a Gourmet Set, she also brought us a frozen Gourmet Tray (wrapped in tin foil to keep it cold on the plane). Bless her.

So next time you come to dinner at our house, you know what you'll get: Gourmetten. Pretty soon, one of my friends is getting married. Now that I know you call it Raclette in England, I can simply buy them a Raclette set as a present. Yay.

Strange though how you can buy the thing in England and yet none of my friends had ever heard of it and a few had asked me to get my parents to bring them one from Holland. Maybe I can start a trade in pre-cut Gourmet Dishes.


Julie said...

I am amazed that Customs allowed your mother to bring a tray of meat into the country! What about MadCowDisease, etc. I cannot even take an apple from Sydney to Melbourne.

Dutchcloggie said...

One of the many benefits of living in the EU. No landing cards for EU citizens so nothing much to declare. Not sure if it was actually allowed or not but I think it was OK as the meat was from within the EU and from a safe country.

JD and I watch Nothing to Declare (about Australian customs) a LOT so I now realise why I was stopped when I came to Australia: I had all kinds of liquorice undeclared, had been on a number of very short visits (from drug haven Amsterdam no less), came over for a Working Holiday all on my own with very little money.....I am surprised they even let me in :-)

Anonymous said...

Where can I purchase these gourmetten pots in the US?

Dutchcloggie said...

I have no idea. I don't live in the USA so you'll have to go on a little search. Try Amazon and look for Raclette.

Anonymous said...

we have this one from Amazon for some years now and love it..


Monica Adair said...

I have one but I don't know how to use it...do you put kerosene in the little bottom part and then light it somehow? I have no clue and I really want to use it!

Anonymous said...

I find raclette to be quite different from gourmetten. I prefer gourmetten, with individual frying pans. Can usually purchase/order them from Dutch/German deli stores. We like using the gel fondue fuel, works well.

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