Cookies are comfort food at Christmas
Newcomers from the Netherlands and the Bahamas share stories over Christmas cookies
"Oh my gosh," said Cordell Wells as he devoured a special Dutch cookie called a stroopwafel. Wells is from the Bahamas and was sharing Christmas cookies and stories with Anneke Plugge-Kaffa who moved to P.E.I. from the Netherlands six years ago.
The Bahamas and the Netherlands might seem like a world apart but their Christmas traditions aren't.
Wells is studying in the international hospitality management program at the Culinary Institute of Canada. If he was home at Christmas, apart from being warmer, he would be gathering with a large number of relatives.
In fact, some people on P.E.I. may relate to his experience growing up on a "family island" and attending one school with 20 other students.
'We love our carbs'
"We would stay up really late for Santa Claus," said Wells. Then on Christmas day he and his parents often host a family meal, sometimes getting a hall to seat 250 people. There are mains like fish, mutton, turkey and ham plus lots of side dishes. "We love our carbs," laughed Wells.
"Children have it the best in Holland," said Plugge-Kaffa.
"December fifth is Sinterklaas when the Dutch Santa delivers gifts."
He's not a jolly Santa according to Plugge-Kaffa, "you never know if you'll get a compliment or a lecture."
Turkey is growing in popularity in the Netherlands but the traditional Christmas meal features raclette. A grill is placed on the table and a variety of meats are cooked on top. "Everyone cooks their own, so we sit for two or three hours at the table and mom isn't running back and forth."
Children have it the best in Holland.- Anneke Plugge-Kaffa
Plugge-Kaffe is biting into the Bahamian 'flour biscuit' shared by Wells. Both were taking part in an informal cookie exchange on Mainstreet with Angela Walker.
"They're a staple around Christmas and Easter," said Wells.
"But it's an old recipe that's not easy to find."
His recipe was passed down from his grandmother. It's a dipping cookie and not as sweet as shortbread.
The stroopwafel made by Plugge-Kaffa is two butter cookies, similar to thin waffles, filled with a layer of caramel-like syrup.
"Most Dutch people set the cookie on top of a cup of coffee so the heat melts the filling," she said.
You can buy these treats and others from Plugge-Kaffa when she's at the Charlottetown Farmers Market. Her outdoor stand is called 'Kaffataria the Dutch Mini Pancakes Company'.
We can't share her recipe but if you want a hit of cookies from the Bahamas, see this recipe.
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With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.