The signs were all there: the large stock pot was on the stove, my mom was busy peeling potatoes, and I could see the chopped onions ready to take the plunge into the soon-to-be-boiling water. I spied some carrots still in the bag and I knew they would be joining the onions all in good time. And yes, there was the head of cabbage, too.
Without a doubt, it was happening.
Mom was making Stamppot.
This Dutch *mainstay has many variations, some involving kale, others include bacon, some both. But all versions rely on boiling root vegetables together and mashing them up beyond recognition.
This was the worst possible dinnertime scenario I could conceive. Stamppot. Why, Mom? Why? I already apologized for the Tupperware Avalanche and the toenails behind the couch.
There was no escaping the smell of Stamppot cooking. That odour of onions with just a hint of smelly socks was a constant reminder of my dinnertime fate. It was too late to feign an illness or get an invitation to dine at my friend’s house. That meal was coming and I had nowhere to hide.
Once I realized the inevitability of me consuming this “meal”, I quickly went through the five stages of Stamppot eating:
1. Denial: Noooooooooooooooo.
2. Anger: Why? Why? WHY? WHO ASKED HER TO MAKE THIS ABOMINATION?
3. Bargaining: I’ll never complain about another meal if you will just let me have Cup-a-Soup tonight.
4. More Bargaining: Just name your price, woman – it’s yours.
5. Acceptance: Fine. I’ll eat it. But it’s not going to be pretty.
Stamppot is often served with sausage. My mom would claim it was to “balance out the meal” but I knew it was really to bribe savvy children into eating it. Nice try, Mom. No amount of salty meat deliciousness could convince this kid that Stamppot is edible.
I had to develop some strategies to get through a Stamppot meal. First, I would ask for the smallest portion possible, often trying to serve myself. Then I would casually move the mash around my plate, giving the illusion of consumption. Next, I would plead at my brother with my eyes to please, please eat some of mine.
Let’s talk about my brother for a moment. I don’t know what happened to him as a young child, but he ate Stamppot with gusto. He would pile it on the platter, not a dinner plate, the platter, then top it with a sausage link, stick his elbows out and proceed to shovel it into his mouth. There would be no polite conversation with him when Stamppot was served. I’m quite certain one of us was switched at birth.
After much threatening and cajoling by my mom, I would finally take a bite. Well, that wasn’t too bad, got myself a nice forkful of potato. Then a bratwurst chaser. A second bite followed – okay, I can handle this. This pattern continued for a few more bites. And then – I just bit into some cabbage! Take this away! Stamppot was my first experience with a “Bait and Switch” scenario. It’s like internet dating on a plate.
I admit that I was a picky eater as a child, and for that I apologize profusely to my mom. But can we all please just end the conspiracy? Let’s have no future generations go through any unnecessary mealtime suffering.
Just say “no” to Stamppot.
*Stamppot has been described by some reliable sources as “punishment in a pan” and tasting like “anger”. There are others who claim it is “delicious” and “the best”, but they are liars.