Title   Heet Garnaalen, heet (Search for the image)
Translated title Hot Shrimp, Hot
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a hot shrimp vendor (`garnalenverkoper’)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description A man with a broad-brimmed hat and soft collar over his jacket stands in the market place, holding a wooden bucket of cooked shrimp in his left hand. He scoops out shrimp with his right hand. The bucket is balanced against his slightly bent knees. He is selling the shrimp to two young boys who stand at the left. The smaller, bareheaded boy in front is getting some; his slightly taller, slightly older companion, who is wearing a hat, stands closely behind him intently watching the transaction. The step gable roofs and windowed facades of a number of buildings can be seen behind them.

Shrimps and crabs were plentiful and made tasty snacks on market day when sold cooked to shoppers. Shrimp were also sold live at fish-stalls for later home preparation and eating. Simplest recipes for shrimp and crabs in a 1667 Dutch cookbook* called for boiling the shrimp with pepper, water, and vinegar or verjuice.

Shrimp sellers do not appear in Dutch paintings, although there are still lifes with cooked lobster, crabs, shrimp, or crayfish, and a painting of a lobster seller by Frans van Mieris (Rijksmuseum Twenthe). The Flemish artist, Clara Peeters, and her Dutch counterpart, Pieter Claesz, created still life paintings in which shrimp could be seen among other food treats on a laid table.

Source Donna R. Barnes, Ed D, Street scenes, Leonard Bramer's drawings of seventeenth-century daily life (Hofstra Museum exhibition 1991). Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.

Click here for the introductory essay on Bramer's drawings.

  • See Peter G. Rose, The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World, 1989.

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