Before I left the US some 12 years ago, there were certain things that I perceived as being typical to my home country. It was only when I started living in other countries that I realized they weren’t so unique or so American after all. For example, Germans are big on pretzels and donuts, too.
Another such example which I recently discovered is pie. I thought that the fruit-filled pastry shell with criss-cross topping was a characteristically American classic. Well, it turns out it is a Dutch classic, too. (Indeed, I wonder how many of these “American” culinary traditions were imported by the various immigrant groups that founded our nation.)
The Dutch call their pies vlaai (which, incidentally, rhymes with pie – it is pronounced like “fly”). Vlaai traditionally comes from Limburg province in the southern part of the Netherlands. But you can get it everywhere, thanks to the chain store MultiVlaai which has shops throughout the country (including one dangerously close to my office).
Vlaai tends to be a bit larger and thinner than American-style pies. It comes in a dazzling area of flavours, from the traditional varieties (apple, cherry, summer fruits, lemon, strawberry, etc.) to the more exotic tastes like tiramisu, cappuccino, banana, stroopwafel, kir royal, orange, pear, and Bounty. My new goal in life is to try them all…