Foodways
Material

Speculoos

Background of informant:

My informant YF is an international student from Brussels, Belgium. He spent the first two years of high school in Los Angeles, and the last year back in Brussels. He lived in Wallonia in Belgium, which is the French-speaking region that accounts more than a half of the country.

 

Main piece:

YF: “It is the cookie that we have during Christmas, or more accurate speaking, Saint Nicholas Day. It’s kind of like a ginger bread cookie, but it’s definitely different.”

“The ingredient that I will use to make speculoos will be: flour, butter, eggs, baking soda, and the most important cloves, which is the ingredient that gives the flavor, and nutmeg. And with a special kind of sugar, cassonade which is made of sugar beets.

“You mix these ingredients and make the dough. Then, you’ll have a mode that have different images, like a figure of Saint Nicholas, or a Christmas tree. You dust the mode with flour, and put the dough into the mode, and use a knife to cut, to clear the edges. Then flip the mode upside down, so cookies in shape are finished.

“Normally, we don’t clean the wooden mode after using them. That’s because the more they’re being used, they better the wood will be. “

SH: What about the Saint Nicholas mode? Why do you use it?

YF: “We have a holiday of Saint Nicholas in Belgium, and the time is really close to Christmas. It is also called Winter Holiday, on December 6th each year. So on that day, Saint Nicholas will give gifts and candies to kids. He is our version of Santa Claus, so making Saint Nicholas into the cookie is to rememorize him, and the cookies are given to kids as gifts.

“It is traditional only for the Saint Nicholas Day, but this cookie is really good so now, people have it all over the year. It’s not a special thing only for a day and it is not always made in the special wooden mode. Those speculoos in beautiful shapes, from wooden mode, are usually hand made.”

 

Context of the performance:

This is a part of the interview I had with my informant YF.

 

My thoughts about the piece:

When YF showed me a picture of the cookie, on Google, I suddenly realized that I know this type of cookie, I had it before, and I love it. The brand that makes Belgium speculoos is called “Lotus”, and it is really prevalent and popular in Chinese market. Knowing the fact that speculoos used to be a special offer only for Saint Nicholas Day, it is interesting to see how it becomes more prevalent to Belgium people since you can have it all over the year, and then it becomes more prevalent and accessible to people in a distant country because of globalization.

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