The most famous contributions of the Dutch people to American traditions include pretzels, Cole Slaw, beer, donuts, cider, and rum. It was considered wise for a Dutch new settler to marry so that he would have a wife who had time to brew beer. The Dutch House, located at 2 East 4thStreet in New Castle, DE is filled with essentials from Dutch homes dating back to the 18thand 19thcenturies. The house belonged to an artisan. Blacksmiths, brick layers, and cabinet makers all qualified as artisans.
The state of Delaware’s 4th grade school curriculum includes a visit to the Dutch House to view this part of the history of colonial Delaware. It was the job description of artisans to find practical measures to for turning a house into a home. The house on 4thStreet began as one room and later the owner added on a shed which turned into a kitchen. Then a parlor and an upstairs for bedrooms were constructed for family use. Prior to prohibition years, a basement was dug out under the original one room for a lunch room and speak easy. The cellars of a lot of old New Castle houses hold many many secrets.
The kitchen fireplace in not like most fireplaces you have probably seen in colonial homes. It is shallow. There is an original Dutch oven with two layers of pots for cooking evenly yet not having to heat up an entire baking oven. There is a Betty Lamp which is a shallow dish which you could put the fat from your roast lamb or duck in, then add a wick and light up your room with a flame like candlelight for dinner time. The dinner table itself folds up into a big arm chair for after dinner for visiting. It is called a Harvest Table.
Over top of the table hangs a traditional Dutch spoon rack. Spooning is a Dutch tradition whereby the bride’s family buys a set of spoons for her new house as a wedding gift. The spoons maintain her maiden name much like the hyphenated names young women adapt today. Spooning was a way of tracing the maternal lineage through the family as an heirloom. Spoons associated the institution of marriage with nutrition and good food.
Marriage is usually not a sacrament by people from the Protestant Churches. Communion and Baptism are believed to be visible signs of grace commissioned by Jesus Christ as Sacraments for Christians. However, many Dutch Reform Church members, like Catholics, believe that marriage is a sacrament which confers grace on believers. And to think that some of those Dutch men thought they were just getting a good deal for brewing beer.