Friday, October 31, 2008

The Banket Affair

No, that wasn't supposed to read Blanket - I meant Banket. Some folks call it Dutch Letters.

For those of you who have never experienced the delight that is banket, I highly encourage you to get thee to a Dutch community and partake. In our area the Dutch were strongly represented in the founding of area communities. It's fascinating to me that these industrious folk came in the late 1800s and settled the area, digging irrigation ditches by hand that still exist and are utilized today. They brought their culture, and many of their strong Christian ethics.

Not far from me is the tiny town of Churchill. This strong Dutch community holds a wonderful Christian school from which my son recently graduated. It was through that school that I came to learn about banket. I also learned about snert, stampot and bitterballen, but I digress.

The first time I attended the Dutch Harvest Festival at the school, I was met at the school door by a wonderful greeter. The woman smiled and pulled me aside as I crossed the threshold. Whispering conspiratorially in my ear, "If you want banket, you'll have to get it right now--it's going fast."

Now having a bit of Dutch ancestry myself, I felt the calling of the banket, even though I had no idea what it might be. I nodded to the woman and allowed her to point the way. The next thing I know I'm standing in a long line holding tubes of flaky pastry that had been filled with an almond paste concoction. It was like a badge of honor as you walked through the school with your arms laden with banket. The older women nodded knowingly. Those who hadn't made it on time stared enviously.

Last week I took fellow writer Cathy Marie Hake to Harvest Festival. The affair opened at 10:00 and we were there at 10:03. By 10:05, the banket was gone. As Cathy and I left with our treasured dessert, I noticed two women whispering by the door. "They've sold out of banket," one said to the other. It was a moment of mourning and sorrow for both women. I felt sorry them, saddened that they'd come all this way for banket, only to miss out. I looked at Cathy and then to the banket we had secured. For a moment I thought the Christian thing might be to share or at least offer to let them buy one of the tasty sticks. But then sanity returned and I cradled my find like a mother protecting her young and made a mad dash to the parking lot.

A few days later, Cathy called to say her family had loved their experience with banket and that she would plan to come again next year for more. "We'll need to get there earlier," I warned. "Banket waits for no one."


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