De poffertjeskraam - a typical Dutch delicacy
I was browsing through the vocabulary on this website when I came across the word "poffertje" which translated into "small pancake". They are small pancakes, but not every small pancake can be called "een poffertje".
What is "een poffertje" and why have these "poffertjes" become so extremely popular among the Dutch?
"Een poffertje" is a round tiny little pancake, about the size of a two pound coin. They are baked on big cast iron plates with dozens of half round little wells. "Poffertjes" were originally made from buckwheat flour and the story goes that they were invented by monks when wheat flour was difficult to get. They used these "poffertjes" instead of host (= sacramental bread). How these little treats ended up being dressed up with butter and powder sugar, and ended up as a delicacy found on travelling fairs I do not know, but that is what happened. Even nowadays you find "een poffertjeskraam" (="pancake stall") on every Dutch fair, special market or event. They are always made to order and come in portions of 6 or twelve, served on a small paper tray. Due to the extreme heat of the cast iron baking trays they only take a few minutes to make and the bakers are extremely skilled flipping them over with long pointy forks. Modern day "poffertjes" are made with a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour. "Poffertjes" contain a raising agent (yeast, baking powder) to let them puff up. This is where the name "poffertje" comes from. "Poffen" = "to puff up".
The ending "-je" is what linguists call a diminutive; it makes the word it is added to smaller. A child is "een kind", a small child is "een kindje" ("Het kindje Jesus" ="the baby Jesus"). A plant is "een plant", a small plant = "een plantje". Dutch people use the "-je" ending a lot and although linguistically it makes the item it is added to smaller, it is also often used to say that something is cute. "Wat een schat" = "What a darling" is often changed in "Wat een schatje!".
Due to where "poffertjes" are sold ,being at fairs and special events (Queens or Kings Day), people associate them with festivities. "Poffertjes eten" (="to eat poffertjes") is a popular activity for a child's birthday party. And specially if you are so lucky that there is a "poffertjeskraam" in a nearby village on your birthday. "Een poffertjeskraam" literally means "a poffertjes stall". Some villages (and city's) have a very grand but portable poffertjes restaurant build on the village green. "De poffertjeskraam" will stay in the village for a few weeks before it gets taken down and rebuild elsewhere. If you want to have an idea what these look like look type "Laren poffertjeskraam" into Google image to get an idea.
If you have not got the chance to go and have some "poffertjes" on a Dutch fair or festival you can often find "een poffertjes kraam" in a continental market.
"Eet smakelijk!" = "have a nice meal"