Dutch Robson Ranch residents introduce Rijsttafel to the International Group

Pictured are Ineke Dabelic, Lenie Christensen, Fred and Diane van Naerssen.

Pictured are Ineke Dabelic, Lenie Christensen, Fred and Diane van Naerssen.

Rupa Mathur

You must be wondering what is Rijsttafel. Rijsttafel is a Dutch word that literally means “rice table”. It originated with the Dutch colonization of the Indonesian region. Dutch traders went to Indonesia in 1602 as a part of Dutch East India, a company created to market the spices that grew in the islands, such as nutmeg, cloves, and pepper. By the 1800s, the company was dissolved and the territory officially became a Dutch Colony. In 1945 Indonesia became independent. The former Dutch colonials and the immigrants from Indonesia brought back to the Netherlands the taste of their much loved Rijsttafel. The opposite has happened in Indonesia. With independence the nationalist feeling has been to do away with Dutch colonel culture and customs including Rijsttafel. During one of my recent trips to Java and Bali, I could not find the Rijsttafel in restaurants as I had been served by my Dutch friends in Robson Ranch at our International Club meetings.

To make it clearer, Rijsttafel is an assortment of dishes which comes from all over the Indonesian islands. It is inspired by Nasi Padang, which is an Indonesian dish of rice surrounded by multiple meats and various vegetables in zesty sauces. It is a way to sample a variety of many Indonesian dishes in one sitting. It is not meant to be a mishmash of random dishes. Instead, the multiple dishes and condiments are meant to provide an enhanced dining experience where sweet, sour, bitter, and salty tastes are balanced. Some dishes are served hot, some room temperature and some cold.

The October International Club meeting was hosted by Diane and Fred van Naerssen’s home on October 17. The Dutch Contingent of the club also included Lenie Christensen as well as Ineke Diabelic. They prepared Indonesian Rijstaffel. A great variety of dishes were served, which besides Nasi Goreng (fried rice) included Babi Kacang (pork in peanut sauce), Heete Fleisjes (spicy hot chicken), Rendang (beef in coconut milk), Foe Yong Hai (egg omelet), Ajam Ketjap (chicken in sweet sauce) Krupuk (shrimp crackers), Atjar (cucumber salad), Sajur Boontjes (green beans with sambal), and sautéed bok choy. This variety of appetizing dishes were prepared with great deal of care and were very delicious. Everyone had a great feast and also enjoyed socializing with each other.

Our next meeting will be held at Lenie & Loren Christensen’s home on Nov. 21. We have some new international Robson Ranch residents who will be joining us at this meeting. We are going to celebrate our Thanksgiving dinner together. Everyone has been thoughtful by stepping in and volunteering to make a variety of dishes to make this celebration memorable. The International Club is very grateful to Lenie and Loren Christensen for hosting our club meetings several times.