The southernmost province of the Netherlands, Limburg, with its hilly landscape, likes to defy the idea that the Netherlands is a totally flat country. The name Limburg derives from the fortified castle town known as Limbourg, currently in the Belgian province of Liège, which was the seat of the medieval Duchy of Limburg.
Many of Limburg’s travel attractions are located in and around the city of Maastricht. Museums, basilicas and even old mines can be explored before a trip to the famous GaiaPark Kerkrade Zoo. This is also the place to be if you want to bounce back and forth over the invisible boarder of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
Mention to a Dutch person that you are heading to Limburg, however, and you are bound to receive a reminder not related to any of the normal touristic highlights. No, instead you are like to be reminded not to forget to eat some vlaai while you are there.
Vlaai is said to have originated in the Germanic kitchens, where a bread good called Vladel was made. These flat breads, baked on hot stones and topped with honey or fruit, were well-known amongst the Germanic tribes. German monks in the Middle Ages, also baked similar cakes to give out at Easter.
The vlaai arrived in the Netherlands thanks to a lady known as Maria Hubertina Hendrix. In the early 20th century, Maria began selling Weerter Vlaaitjes to travellers at the train station in Weert, Limburg. As they travelled, the travellers took the vlaai to other parts of the country.
Nowadays you’ll find every flavour from brownie vlaai to tiramisu vlaai but a traditional Limburgse vlaai is one that is completely baked. Cherry or kruimel remain traditional favourites.
No matter which flavour you decide to go with, don’t forget to eat a slice or two when visiting the Dutch region of Limburg.