Ferry van Eeuwen
A famous or with some, ill-famous meal we often got on board Dutch ships was Lapskous a sailor's dish of meat stewed with vegetables. In the 18th century version ship's biscuit were served with Lapskous. I am sure that - apart from Dutch ships - this dish was also served on Danish and Norwegian ships. It was then called and written a little bit differently: Lapskaus The suspicion amongst sailors in my days was that when the cook had enough meaty remnants from previous days or when he had cleaned out the cold meat storage room, he would concoct stews like 'Duitse aardappels' (German potatoes) and quite regularly also Lapskous. The truth is probably that in the old days it was rather easy to cook and would keep the crew happy as it was filling and very rich in calories. The meat then was the salted meat which ships used to carry on board in wooden barrels. And salty it was, you can bet! No cold storage in those days! The Webster dictionary says: "Lapskous [origin unknown] (1706) : a sailor's dish of stewed or baked meat with vegetables and hardtack". Hard tack is the same as ship's biscuit. In my days it was not customary to eat lapskous with 'hard tack'. The course is claimed to have originated in Lancashire, England perhaps by 1680. So one can expect that it was part of the menu on board British ships as well. Supporting that claim is a well-known Lancashire dish called 'lobscourse' and dating from around 1700. It combined potatoes, meat, onions, and strong seasonings. With ship's biscuits added, lobscouse was a sailor's dish. So closely did the dish become associated with sailors that by the 1880s, a lobscouser seems to have been a nickname for seaman.
Lapskous [Dutch version]
1500 grams of potatoes , 1 tin of corned beef, 2 big gherkins, 1 big onion, 1 green apple, pepper en salt.
Fry the diced onion in butter until soft and lightly browned. At the end add the peeled and cut up green apple. Boil the potatoes as usual and mash them with the onions/apples mixture, corned beef and the gherkins, diced very small. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The corned beef can be substituted by remnants of meat, beef or pork. Beef and pork to be shredded before mashing with the potatoes. It is interesting to note that the Dutch always mixed the lapskous with gherkins and I think even some extra vinegar was added. These ingredients are absent in the Norwegian lapskaus.
If anybody has other versions of Lapskous or Lapskaus, you are welcome to send them to me. I will then publish the recipes on these pages.
A very (ill)famous Norwegian dish is Lutefisk (pronounce as LOO-tuh-FIHSK) or also Lutfish. By only mentioning the name of this dish the true Norwegian begins to work him or herself up into a little frenzy. Pupils of the eye start to widen, twitching of facial muscles and a small shuddering of delight over the entire body. Then they usily stammer or groan - by now their throats are contracting and getting very dry blocking the normal speech capabilities of the person in question - something like: Where, where, please, hurry?