Those of you who are Chicagoland residents are well aware that we're a pretty diverse crowd around here. During the summer months, you can find a festival for pretty much every ethnicity that you can possibly imagine (and some that you probably can't). Just this year, we here at the Commissary have managed to make it to an Irish fest, Polish fest, celebration of all things Americana (aka the Will County Fair), and now a Dutch festival. Mrs. Hackknife's family on her father's side is 100% Dutch and is quite proud of their culture, so every year, several of the relatives get together in September for the annual Elim Dutch Festival, held to benefit a local Christian education facility for mentally-challenged individuals. This year, we opted to tag along and drag the progeny with us. As you might imagine, my primary interest in going revolved around getting to try Dutch cuisine (surprise), which up to this point had been limited to Amstel Light, Gouda cheese, those little windmill cookies you find in the junk food aisle, and a potent homemade alcoholic concoction called boerenjongens (a jar of which showed up in my wife's refrigerator every New Year's, courtesy of her dad, and must have doubled as paint thinner back in the old country).
Stiff drinks aside (the festival was actually a dry event - Dutch Reformed Protestants, you know), the food we sampled was quite tasty for a carnival environment. First up was a saucijzebroodjes, or pig-in-a-blanket, normally encountered as a breakfast dish in my culture. It was reminiscent of an Irish sausage roll, but much less greasy and with more of a solid dough breading than phyllo. Very nice. Next came a container of hutspot, or roast beef with gravy and mashed potatoes - also tasty, but not particularly Dutch in my mind. We then dove into the desserts, which seemed to be very popular as they generated the longest lines at the booths. Poffertjes are little (and I mean little, like quarter-sized) pancakes dusted with powdered sugar - rich and buttery and making me jealous that I can't make such good pancakes at home (could it be lard?). We also tried some oliebollen (literally, oil balls), which were fritter-like donuts stuffed with a few raisins for added complexity, also dusted with powdered sugar. Mrs. Hackknife and I quite enjoyed them; amazingly (or at least in keeping with their character), Hackknife Jr. and Hackknifette turned them down in favor of hot dogs, a decidedly non-Dutch food item (weirdos). There was a unique white-trashy dining option of taco-in-a-bag (consisting of Doritos with taco meat and toppings thrown inside) available, but I decided to hold off on that one until next year.