Netherlands, autumn 1944.

The liberation from the Nazis was having more problems than expected.

The access of food to the population was complicated by the blockade of trains and river transportstopped because of the freezing of the rivers.

This critical situation gave rise to a great famine, especially in the western urban areas of the country.

In fact, energy intakes went from 1,800 to 500 kilocalories per person per day from May 1944 to February 1945.

(Also: Agreement to compensate victims of World War II brings South Korea and Japan closer)

It is estimated that, until May 1945, between 20,000 to 25,000 Dutch citizens died as a result of malnutrition.

It also affected pregnant women and babies under one year of age, with long-term health consequences for these children.

A 16-year-old apprentice dancer, who was 1.70 meters tall and weighed 40.8 kilos, would later recall suffering from asthma, jaundice, anemia, and other malnutrition-related illnesses, such as edema.

It starts at your feet and when it reaches the heart, you die. He was above ankles with me when the allied forces liberated us“.

And as she herself recounted, her family managed to survive thanks to the consumption of tulips.

Tulip soups to alleviate hardships

the dutch government I was looking for foods rich in energy and nutrients and easily accessible.

(Also read: Who were the ‘Trümmerfrau’ and why they were essential for Germany)

During this war stage, tulip cultivation stopped and there was a large stock of unplanted bulbs.

So the authorities took advantage of that surplus to sell bulbs in grocery stores and publish recipes in local magazines, in an effort to help the population.

The tulip bulb soup was cooked during the only hour of gas a day that was available

One of those recipes indicated the following method of preparation: “Add water to the pot, cut the bulbs in half and remove the germ.”

“After that, grate the bulbs on a fine grater and preferably in the pot, since the pulp discolors quickly“.

(You may be interested in: The concentration camp that Mexico opened during World War II)

“Although tulip bulbs are starchy, they won’t thicken soup like flour does.”

“Its pulp floats in the soup in the form of flakes. If you still have curry powder at home, add a pinch, then add a little oil or a small amount of fat.. And don’t forget the salt!”

Beware of Tulipalina A

Although the tulips have a problem.

Its bulbs mainly contain an allergen: the compound called tulipalin A.

It is found mostly on the outer layer of the bulb, but also on the stem, leaves, and petals.

Experts have detected the intoxication of cows by consumption of hay and tulip bulbs and its role as a causative agent of the so-called “tulip fingers”.

This dermatitis, which growers suffer from, is characterized by erythematous scaling on the skin around the nails and between the tips of the first and second fingers of the dominant hand.

(Also: The tragic story of the man who survived the two atomic bombs)

It can only be prevented by reducing contact with these bulbous plants and by wearing nitrile gloves (vinyl won’t work).

He danger of consuming tulip bulbs lies in the variety or in its preparation.

In fact, not all varieties are edible, and those that are may taste bitter.

On the other hand, eating them without cooking can cause nausea, abdominal pain and other digestive problems.

Tulips in today’s kitchen

Nowadays, tulip bulbs can be dried, pulverized and added to cereals or floured into bread.

Besides, the flowers are also edible.

They can be used as a decoration for dishes, with the whole flower (minus the pistil and stamens) or by chopping the petals and mixing them in a salad, although they have little flavor. The ornamental use of the sugary petals in a cake or to consume them with syrup is striking.

In modern gastronomy there are efforts to recover this original ingredient.

Thus, the expert in nutritional and medicinal plants Margaret Roberts collected 23 years ago suggestions like tulip syrup, stuffed tulips with chicken mayonnaise and three-bean salad with tulips.

(Also: The letter that arrived 100 years later at its destination)

Other notable examples are that of Johanna Huiberts-van den Berg, who has compiled around thirty recipes; or that of Alain Caron, a French chef who has lived in the Netherlands for 40 years and runs several restaurants in Amsterdam. Caron has invented dishes like confit tomato, fennel and tulip bulb salad or oysters with tulip bulbs.

Probably, that young woman who recounted the ravages of the Dutch famine would have liked to taste these delicacies.

By the way, she became, years later, one of the best actresses of the 20th century, and at the end of April 1990 she was declared a star of the botanical world in the Netherlands.

The Dutch bulb industry paid tribute to him for his work with UNICEF by dedicating an exceptionally bright white variety of the flower to him: the Audrey Hepburn tulip.

* Jose Miguel Soriano del Castillo, is Professor of Nutrition and Bromatology at the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Valencia. Mª Inmaculada Zarzo Llobell is a PhD student in Medicine, University of Valencia.

This article was published on The Conversation and reproduced here under the creative commons license. Click here to see the original version.

Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.

BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-65276497, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-04-29 11:00:06