This is another “exotic” cuisine I’ve been itching to try out since coming to Holland. If you aren’t Dutch and you didn’t know a country named Suriname exists, then I won’t blame you, seeing as it is the smallest state on the South American continent and home to only half a million people.
But, it does exist, and in fact it was a Dutch colony until 1975 when the Dutch government granted full independence. In the years leading up to independence, nearly one-third of the population emigrated to The Netherlands. As people still living in Suriname after 1975 would lose their Dutch citizenship, some 50,000 Surinamese left from 1974-1975. Then another wave of 30,000 Surinamese moved to Holland from 1979-1980, right before the Dutch introduced a visa requirement. Throughout the 1980s, further Surinamese migrated to join their now established family members and relatives in Holland.
The result is a large Surinamese diaspora living in Holland today; they form 2% of the Dutch population. As of 2005, there were 328,000 Surinamese people living in The Netherlands, compared to 438,000 in Suriname itself. Surinamese people are closely integrated into Dutch society and form an integral part of the Dutch identity and the Dutch culture.
So, now that you know the history, you can imagine why Surinamese restaurants and snack stalls are so plentiful. For Friday lunch at work, we often go down to the Surinamese take away and get surinaamse broodjes. In Dutch, “broodje” means roll or sandwich (or bap in British English). A Surinamese sandwich can be filled with chicken, chicken curry, egg, beef, pork, lamb, shrimp curry, or bakkeljauw (dried and salted cod, the Dutch spelling of the Portuguese bacalhau). The possibilities are endless. It is served with a spicy sauce on the side.