Monday, June 11, 2012

What is a Koffietafel?....Tulips for Augusta

 Here's interesting passage from Tulips for Augusta written in 1971.

This little paragraph has had me doing all kinds of online research just because it drives me craaaaaaazy not to know something.
"....By the time all these delights had been tried on and tasted and admired, it was lunch time. The old ladies had Koffietafel at noon each day--a meal of rolls and different sorts of bread, with cheese and sausage and cold meat and a salad arranged before each place upon a small silver dish--and of course, coffee. Augusta, who was hungry after her journey, ate with a healthy appetite which pleased the aunts, who were, as far as she could remember, the only members of her family who had not, at one time or another, made some reference to her delicate plumpness."

I looked up Koffietafel and the literal translation seems to be coffee and table but it does not refer to furniture. According to the Dutch Wiki a Koffietafel is:
Een koffietafel is een eenvoudige broodmaaltijd met koffiekoeken of eenvoudig belegde sandwiches (bijvoorbeeld enkel kaas en hesp). Als drank serveert men koffie en thee. Door de eenvoud is een koffietafel geschikt voor een groot aantal personen, bijvoorbeeld na afloop van een begrafenis. Dit noemt dan ook wel een rouwtafel. Maar ook voor andere gelegenheden biedt men een koffietafel aan. Bijvoorbeeld als men thuis gasten ontvangt, de gastvrouw of -heer wil dan niet te lang in de keuken vertoeven en kan langer bij het bezoek aanwezig zijn. Of op een congres, waarbij deelnemers een lichte maaltijd kunnen appreciëren.
Indien een koffietafel uitgebreid wordt met nog andere etenswaren en in buffetvorm wordt aangeboden, dan spreekt men soms van een Brabantse koffietafel. Dit begrip is afkomstig uit Noord-Brabant en was een overvloedige maaltijd, die men opdiende aan de buren als men een varken had geslacht.

Ooops.... do you not read Dutch? neither. When I put this through google translate it said:
A coffee table is a simple snack with coffee cakes or simple sandwiches (for example, only ham and cheese). Serve as a drink of coffee and tea. Their simplicity is a coffee table for many people, for example after a funeral. This therefore calls a funeral table. But also for other occasions, we offer coffee to. For example if we receive guests at home, the hostess or gentleman will not dwell too long in the kitchen and can no longer be present during the visit. Whether at a conference, where participants can appreciate a light meal.
If a coffee table is extended with additional food and buffet is offered, then we sometimes speak of a Brabant coffee. This concept comes from Ontario and had a sumptuous meal, which can opdiende to neighbors if a pig had sex .

Okay, that's interesting and makes sense given what was written in the book but that last part ...."which can opdiende to neighbors if a pig had sex". I have no idea what that's about. Does anyone that speaks/reads Dutch know if the translation is bad or what???

 Ooooooo.....I just found an interesting blog where the author talks about  a "Koffietafel":
"Coffee is a big deal in Flemish life. One of the major family events, a funeral, is not complete without a "koffietafel", which is the name for the reception that follows the funeral. The "koffietafel" is usually held in a church hall and includes pastries, rolls with cheese and ham, and of course, numerous cups of coffee. The pastries, which you can also buy every day at local bakeries, are called "koffiekoeken". If you are female and you go visit your neighbor lady you always get offered a cup of coffee and this visit is referred to as "koffiekletsen". When you go to the hairdresser you are always offered a cup of coffee. And this can be dangerous if you are trying to watch your diet as all these friendly cups come with a cookie, or in some places (mostly nicer cafes), a tiny cup of whipped cream and a small slice of pound cake!"

 Doing further research I found this information on a site that seems to be run by tourist businesses. It said:

"A large percentage of the restaurants in Amsterdam include a "koffietafel" on their lunch-time menu, even when they specialize in hot meals. It's rarely difficult, therefore, to find a "koffietafel," and it's also good to remember that a koffietafel is an unusually inexpensive lunch to have
Typical of what you'll receive and pay is the koffietafel served at the moderately-priced V.A.M.I. Restaurant, 171 Kalverstraat, in the heart of the shopping section of Amsterdam, for an enormous koffietafel lunch, including a hot meat croquette and milk or coffee

Another koffietafel-serving place? Try the huge Ruteck's Restaurant, 11 Rembrandtsplein (which is not to be confused with the smaller self-service Ruteck's at 2 Rembrandtsplein), where the koffietafel is referred to by its alternate name, a "twaalfuurtje" (a 12 o'clock bread-lunch), and consists of three pieces of bread, a roll, ham, roast beef, cheese, a currant leaf, a "tid-bit of Italian salad," and a choice of coffee, tea or milk. 

Alternately still, Ruteck's offers a "Brabantse koffietafel", which includes all the above items plus an egg, an extra slice of bread, fruit for dessert, and a second glass of coffee or milk.
For an even swankier koffietafel, try the one served at the quiet, genteel Formosa Tearoom, 15 Spui (about 20 yards from the Kalverstraat), or the variety of the restaurant at the American Hotel, overlooking the Leidseplein, which offers (from noon to 2 only): an assortment of white, rye, brown and gingerbread, a roll, a bun, rusks and butter, cold meat, a "Ravigote sauce shell" with salad or a hot croquette, Gouda cheese, jam, coffee, tea, milk or chocolate!"

Okay, so apparently, a Koffietafel is an event more than an actual food. Basically, it's seems to be used to describe a lunch or brunch or afternoon tea like meal. Good to know.
Now that that has been settled, here's a recipe for a currant bread that is said to be served at a traditional koffietafel. Happy Baking!

Currant Bread (Krentenbrood)

1 3/4 cups milk, 120-130 degrees
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast, dry
1/4 cup water, 110 degrees
5 cups flour
2 cups currants
1 cup raisins
Mix milk, butter, sugar, egg and salt. Mix yeast in water. Let stand 5-10 minutes until dissolved. Add to first mixture. Gradually add flour. Knead. Cover and let stand in a warm place for an hour. Punch down and add currants, raisin and candied, chopped lemon peel, if desired. Shape into 2 loaves. Place in greased and floured loaf pans. Cover with damp cloth and let rise again in a warm place for 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until brown.


  1. Bad translation? I'd say so. So what about that pig?
    ...speak of a Brabant koffietafel. This expression comes from Noord-Brabant (That's one of the Dutch provinces. "Ontario?" Nice province, but in Canada, last time I was there.) and was a sumptuous meal, which one served to neighbors when one had slaughtered a pig.

  2. Very funny (Yes, I am Dutch as probably is Betty Anonymous).

    A small book has been published (in the Netherlands?) by an Englishman after living in the Netherlands for some time about, habits, language and so on... "The Undutchables" (see links below). You might want to try it :)

    Anyway: Anglophones interpreting Dutch as above is showing well, how difficult it is to simply translate automatically. Always laugh about it, never start a war. The current status of automated translation of this sentence is:

    "This concept originates from Buenos Aires and was a lavish meal that they served them to the neighbors if they had slaughtered a pig."

    Better but Noord-Braband is definitely not Buenos Aires :))