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Tasting potatoes with expert Willem Himmelreich | Lifestyle

Photos: Michael van Emde Boas

While the counter of all those bags of potatoes was getting fuller, I saw on Facebook that none other than the great Willem Himmelreich (retired chef / teacher / chef) wrote very enthusiastically about the Opperdoezers.

He can know, because his mother used to teach him to appreciate the local product. Now he is a great champion of it. From Heerhugowaard he cycles daily to butter and cheese farmers, to the tastiest vegetable men and to the best potatoes.


So I went with my Lekkerlanders on the road to Willem Himmelreich. Because he’s crazy enough for that. “Willem, shall we taste potatoes?” I cried. The door opened hospitably.

We had Langedijker Muizen, Eersteeling (from Uitgeest), Rode Eersteeling, Lekkerlanders and Opperdoezers.

Do you really think that’s enough information? Not when you are with Himmelreich. Then he wants to know on what soil the Firstfruits (brought by our photographer from a garden) were grown? And we should be well aware that the Opperdoezers are only really good of the sandy soils, a mixture of sand and clay. That there are many impostors with Opperdoezers grown outside the Sablon grounds.

It is strange with the potato. He has been declared a popular enemy by a group of fanatical diet-makers. Well, a good potato just belongs on the table. It is a myth that you get fat from potatoes. All sweaty. The calories in the potato are so complex that you lose weight earlier. You arrive from the gravy!

Willem Himmelreich brought in real farmer’s butter. At my request without salt, because I want to taste the potatoes as neutral as possible. He teaches: “Potatoes have a tight mouthfeel. That is why you see that something is always eaten with it. To make it filming in your mouth. No people I know don’t eat something fat with the potato or the fries. ”

Then we are talking about the concepts of tube and tube. Here the teacher wakes up: “A potato has starch. The starch gelatinises. That’s the whole process. One potato takes longer than the other. And yes, one has more solids and remains hard, the other less and the gelatinized starch allows more water. The potato then becomes crumbly or even wet. ”

I thought: I’m going to taste potatoes, but it’s not like that. The hot water bubbles, the potatoes go in. According to Himmelreich, they get so much better, don’t let them get hot slowly. We only washed them, we peel off the skins later. Especially early in the season, that is no problem at all. Then the skins are still thin and you pull them off like papers.

Thick peels

Think again here. Many potatoes are artificially aged, so they store better. Remove the praise and leave them in the ground for another week or so, they will then develop thick peels. That’s how you often get them from the supers. But they know better in the market where the real potato traders are located. There you can also buy by variety and not only by the designation afoker or firm sleeves.

Good, what do we expect? To be fair: there has been almost no tasting in the Netherlands in recent years where the Opperdoezers did not win. All sandy soil potatoes lose ground to loam soil. However, a dune potato can suddenly pick up an ingredient from the ground so that it becomes a particularly tasty potato.

Himmelreich is sure of his Opperdoezers. He looks stunned when it appears that the Lekkerlanders are at the top with flying colors. What a delicious potato. It is solid and beautifully gelatinized. Took the longest. Did you know that a potato really gets bigger in the cooking water? After the Opperdoezer, the Langedijker Mouse finished third.

We sat there looking at it until we started tasting them with salt. As it turns out, the Opperdoezer suddenly comes alongside the Lekkerlander with salt. In other words: an Opperdoezer Ronde can handle salt better. We are both happy. Is it possible that a potato with and without salt tastes so different? We are going to find out.

Anyway, put another potato on the table and go to a good market or greengrocer for that! Then you learn to enjoy the simple potato again.


In the great Vegetable Bible from Mari Maris I read this recipe for braised potato. Braising is something different than cooking.

Required: 400 gr potatoes, preferably small ones, 50 to 80 gr butter, possibly 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.

Place a heavy pan on a simmering plate on a small gas burner. Put a small layer of water and the potatoes in it. Sprinkle a little salt over it, the garlic and of course the butter. Close the lid tightly so that the moisture remains in the pan. Let it cook gently for at least an hour. Occasionally check if a splash of water is needed. A potato cannot taste softer.


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