Perhaps you’ve heard of the classic story: wide-eyed tourist girl meets fritessaus, has a whirlwind romance, with love blossoms, and they live happily ever after—and as they say, the rest is history. This is not that story, I was not a wide-eyed tourist girl, I was a grumpy international student. I did not willingly fall in love, I was insidiously seduced. What is “fritessaus” you ask? Well, it’s a creamy sauce with similar ingredients to traditional mayonnaise. However, this leaner version contains 25% less fat and has sugar added to the concoction. The result is a leaner, sweeter mayonnaise like sauce that commonly accompanies fries in in the Netherlands. It was this creamy goodness that artfully seduced me, and this is my story.
I arrived in the Netherlands at the end of January 2017. From Schiphol I took the train, alone, on a cold grey winter afternoon, straight to an even colder Groningen in the north. Having recently experienced the warm winter of Dubai, the icy cold was certainly a shocking welcome to my rich dark skin and bones. I was certainly in the icy embrace of the European winter alone as international students.
But that is not when the “fritessaus seduction” occurred. I survived the winter in one piece, then the warm hot summer arrived. Coming from the soft breezy shores of Lake Victoria, the hot heavy European humidity slapped me in the face with a woozy ferocity. It was in this weakened state that I approached my local doner shop. See, over the period of six months, I had developed a penchant for the durum kebab. The originally Middle Eastern, but adjusted for the European palate dish, warmly romanced me each and every single time. It reminded me a little of home, which funnily enough is not the Middle East but the airy shores of Lake Victoria in East Africa. The gaslit char on the kip (chicken) or kalf (beef) were a tad bit reminiscent of the charcoal roasted meats back in Kampala.
Here in the Netherlands, the grilled meat of your choice is placed in a thin wheat flatbread. Here it is met with fresh vegetables, garlic sauce and if you live dangerously like me, spicy sambal. Sambal is the name of an originally Asian spicy sauce popular here in the Netherlands. The rolled-up mixture is then toasted in a panini machine and served piping hot with fries/friet, a sauce and a drink of your choice.
So, when did the insidiously delicious “fritessaus seduction” occur you may ask? Well my durum doner was always traditionally accompanied by ketchup. It was a no brainer. Fries=ketchup. Heinz had done their job of programming my mind very well. I knew my stuff, and so did the usual guy at the doner shop. However, it was the summertime and he had taken his “vakantie”. Ah the Dutch obsession with “vakantie” that’s a story for another day. Anyhow, woozily I decided to practise my wonky Dutch. I asked for durum doner menu, and “friet met saus”. As a newbie, I assumed that “saus” naturally meant ketchup—and not fritessaus.
I was handed my warm meal and happily skipped home. I was hungrily looking forward to my meal. Oh boy, oh boy! I opened my warm package and dug my teeth into the warm spicy durum kebab. Then I reached for my warm crispy fries to dip in the—wait, what?! It was not ketchup? It was “FRITESSAUS”! Uurgh! I was already comfy and settled. The spicy kebab bite blazed a spicy path on my tongue. “Oh well”, I grumpily thought to myself, “I guess I will give it a go; that new doner guy will get a hot piece of my mind tomorrow!” The crispy friet landed on my tongue with the soothing creamy smooth milky fritessaus.
My tongue was smothered in the velvety sauce. The dousing heat of the kebab sambal was instantly but a distant memory. I could not even think straight; hence me saying it was an insidious seduction that nipped all hesitation at the bud! I was in love. Unlike ketchup it was calm, plush and confidently assured in its fight against the spice in my mouth. It moved like a lithe dancer with years of mastery under her belt. The subtle sweetness, the faint acidity of the vinegar holding that creaminess from overstepping. What was this happening in my mouth? I was happy. The insidiously seductive sauce did that.
From childhood, I had always hated mayonnaise and thought “fritessaus” was just as bad. I just could not eat it. I furiously avoided said saus. I am now wondering where the anti-mayo/fritessaus activist disappeared to. I don’t know what changed. But I don’t miss her. Turns out the seduction was not too insidious after all. I love “fritessauce” and now eat it on other things too. Fancy that!
The Netherlands changed my taste and the insidious seduction turned out not that insidious after all. I am still surprised three years to this day, and I am loving it.