The Humble Oily Ball

Oliebollen, Munchkins, or Bolang-baling?

Look at this photo. Can you tell me the name of the pastry?

I guess depending on where you come from, we may have different answers that are all correct. The Dutch would call it oliebollen, the American would probably call it the munchkins, and we the Indonesian would call it bolang-baling!

They’re all the same, it’s a small dough, deep fried until brown and then powdered with confectioners sugar.

Clearly this is one of the food that the Indonesian adopted from the Dutch. I don’t know why it ended up being called bolang-baling, but in Dutch the name is from oliebol (literally means oil ball).

What about in America, was it also the Dutch early settlers who introduced this fried doughnut to them? It seems that there are different theories on this, but this Wikipedia entry says so.

For me, the interesting part is that in the Netherlands, oliebollen is generally a December fare and is traditionally served on the New Year’s Eve. Today we likely consider oliebollen as such a humble cake, there’s nothing fancy about it. But it is good to remember that in the past it was regarded as a festive cake! According to this source, the Dutch peasant ancestors might even have saved all year to be able to serve the oliebollen for the New Year’s Eve. This reminds me not to take for granted all the abundance that we have living in today’s world. I want to learn to be more appreciative to the things we consider as plain and ordinary. I want to know again the joy in children’s heart when they got a candy.

With a grateful heart, I’m sure a simple oliebollen can taste much sweeter than a fancy tiramisu.

2 thoughts on “The Humble Oily Ball

  1. In Manado, we call it ‘broot goreng’🙂

    The word ‘broot’ could also be used as a metaphor for someone who looks unhappy or in a bad-mood. When a friend of us looks like that, we occasionally could say, “Kyapa le ngana muka-muka broot bagitu?” hahah..
    It has nothing to do with that oily ball though..:) Or somebody could explain how they are related? hahahah…

    Anyway, Happy New Year to you & family!
    Let’s welcome the New Year with smile not with ‘broot’-faces, hahahahahah…
    Peace!

    • Happy new year, Liv! Yes, I remember the name but I forgot the way broot goreng looks like. It must be unattractive, otherwise people won’t use it to describe the look of a grumpy person🙂

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