Flemish Cookies and SecessionSunday, December 20, 2009
In my family, Lukken is a tradition at Christmas. I was so excited to find this article online about Lukken. The article describes Lukken as “old-world Belgian sugar cookies, which are buttery and thin, crispy and lightly sweet. They quickly bake in a waffle iron fitted with a plate that marks each cookie with a delicate crisscross pattern.” Additionally, here’s a further description:
Lukken are flat, unleavened cookies with few ingredients, but their simplicity belies their distinctive flavor and texture. If you’ve never tasted lukken, the first bite reveals why they’re a tradition for so many Belgian families in the Quad-Cities and elsewhere.
However, let me make a correction. I dislike the use of the word “Belgian,” which is a most abused word. After all, what does that really mean? What does it mean to be “Belgian?” Being “Belgian” has no particular gravity, which is why the Flemish Separatist movement exists and why Flanders needs to secede and gain independence from the smothering and statist Brussels.
Certainly, making Lukken is a Flemish ritual. My family is from West Flanders, where Lukken is a regional specialty. (As they say there, when in Flanders speak Flemish.) The cookies are properly referred to as West Flemish Lukken. In fact, beer lovers know that West Flanders is home to some of the greatest breweries in the world. Here is a brief description of the meaning of “Lukken”:
Now is the time for all loyal Flemish Americans to rally behind their “lukijzers” and bake traditional New Year’s treat called “lukken”. Not found in the standard Dutch dictionaries, the word “lukke” is listed in De Bo’s “West-vlaamsch Idioticon”, a two-volumes dictionary of typical West Flemish words and expressions, published in 1870. The word “lukke” is defined as a “thin, solid little wafer, usually oval-shaped, baked of flour, butter, and sugar” “Lukken” are given mostly as New Year’s treats, and therefore they are also called “Nieuwjaarswafeltjes”.
The word “luk” is derived from the word “geluk”, which can be translated good luck, good fortune, happiness, as in the expression “luk of raak” hit or miss. Similarly the verb “lukken” is a form of “gelukken”, to succeed, whereas “mislukken” means to fail. The adjective “gelukkig” means happy, and is the usual Dutch word in greetings and good wishes for New Years, birthdays, feastdays, etc., such as “Gelukkig Nieuwjaar”, Happy New Year.
Now, the most important tool, of course, is the Lukken iron. My sister currently has the family iron, which is an ancient piece handed down from our grandmother who died well before either of us were born. Many retailers sell a modern version, but most of these are useless because they are made for Belgian waffles, and are therefore way too thick. An old and original Lukken (or pizzelle) iron makes very thin Lukken, just as it should be. Dan Verkinderen of Ghent, Minnesota has a nice page for Lukken, and he even sells the appropriate irons that he makes himself.
My shipment of family-made, fresh Lukken arrived this week from Minnesota. To me, Lukken is best served by having a couple of them late in the evening, paired with a glass of Port or dessert wine, such as the Kiona 2006 Ice Wine from Yakima Valley that I will open tonight.
This has been my contribution to KDC.com for ongelijkheid (diversity). I’ll try not to get carried away with my bare bones grasp of Dutch, but smakelijk eten!