at Easter time Mother would make “Kamper Steur”
By Hendrik de Boer. (126.96.36.199*)
On Saturday 6th October 2007, after a very successful reunion, (of the Callenbach Meerburg Foundation) we were sitting on the terrace of Wielbergen in the sun of the late afternoon enjoying a delicious stew. While we were eating, the conversation turned to Willem, the first president of the foundation, who would regularly explain why we would eat stew, in early October, at the reunion. “Well, on the third of October 1574, the city of Leiden was liberated by the Watergeuzen¹, after many months of being besieged by the Spanish occupiers. The country had been flooded to make life difficult for the Spanish and the Watergeuzen arrived in their flat-bottom boats with herring, white bread and stew for the starving population of Leiden. So, because Mother came from Leiden, we would follow the tradition of the people of Leiden and eat stew on 3rd October.”
"A lady at our table then commented: “but Willem told us more.” Things turned quiet as none of us could remember anything else. “Yes” she continued: “and at Easter Mother would make Kamper Steur. This was followed by the $64 million question: “Who has the recipe of the dish for Kamper Steur.” None of us had any idea. I promised to follow this up with an acquaintance in the town of Kampen. Unfortunately even there we drew a blank. Was this the end of the story? Not quite!
Recently I was walking through the woods and heather of ‘t Harde. (Not far from Kampen) At a certain moment I had to step off the narrow path and onto the heather to let a couple pass. The lady of the pair, was quite well known as a culinary expert. After exchanging greetings with a few comments about the beautiful spring weather in February, I asked her: “Have you ever heard about a dish called Kamper Steur.”
“Yes, of course,” came the reply. “and I do have a recipe for it. There is a story attached to it and I will drop a copy into your letterbox.” That is what happened and that is how I became the owner of the recipe for Kamper Steur.
As I do not know the address of the lady who asked the question at our dinner table I publish it here for her and everyone who may be interested, to try it. We wish you much fun in the kitchen and hope you will enjoy it at Easter time.
It is a very old and well known regional dish, which appeared already a century ago in the cookbook written by Maria Haesenbroek called “The current art of cooking.” This could be because of the comical story attached to it, which has been told in many places as far as the province of Limburg in Belgium.
The town council of Kampen planned to put on a festive dinner for a distinguished guest. (According to the Belgians the Prince of Liège) He did not arrive so the steur which had been caught especially for the occasion, was released into the river IJssel with a little bell tied to it.
Since then the people of Kampen serve Kamper Steur to all important guests, with a straight face: hard boiled eggs with mustard. The story used to be told to show how dumb the people of Kampen really were. In reality they were ahead of the game. When the steur has become extinct, as a result of its relentless persecution for its caviar, the people of Kampen will still have their steur.
Per person: 2 eggs, 15 g of butter, 15 g of flour, 15 ml of water, pepper and salt, half a dessert spoon of mustard and celery.
Boil the eggs in plenty of water for 10 minutes. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the flour while stirring. Continue stirring while adding the water, add plenty of salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes. Douse the eggs under the cold water tap and after peeling cut them in half, length wise.
Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the mustard. Poor the sauce on a flat dish and place the eggs, round side down, in the sauce. Decorate with whole celery leaves. Serve with hot buttered toast or well done rice and lettuce..
is an old verse in medieval Dutch which roughly translated goes like this:
“The people of Kampen were quite clever at the time. They had no regrets about the beautiful steur. They used to say: “If we feel like a fish like that, then at least we know where the animal is.”
is not too late yet, you can easily translate this recipe back to a real fish.
Use a flounder and follow the instructions above except that you first brown
some onion rings in the butter. Add equal parts of lemon juice to the mustard
before adding it to the sauce. Add two folded flounder fillets, per person, to
the sauce and sprinkle with chopped parsley and grated cheese. Cook in a
preheated oven at 200º C for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the oven when the cheese is lightly coloured. Serve with lettuce and
The Watergeuzen were the marines of the Dutch freedom fighters during the 80
years war (1568-1648) against the Spanish occupiers
(Previously published in the family magazine “The Prophet of the Velue”
No 77 in early 2008.)