The very mention of the word nonnevot might make your mouth start to water – or you might have no idea what we're talking about. A nonnevot, a doughnut in the shape of a bow, is a traditional Limburg pastry. The bakers in Maastricht are experts in making these sweet treats, especially when it's Carnival.
In the Maastricht dialect, a vot is someone’s backside and nonne is dialect for nun. That's right: a nonnevot means a nun's backside. In the past, these doughnuts were handed out during Carnival and people would eat other traditional Limburg foods such as liver sausage, black pudding, and gingerbread. The pastry called the nonnevot by the people of Limburg has a long history. It was already a favourite of the French commanders who were trying to invade Limburg in 1676. Although a lot of information is available, the origin of the word is not entirely clear. One of the stories is that the Franciscan nuns, who had a convent in Sittard between 1600 and 1700, gave the pastry to people who brought rags (vodden in Dutch) to collect money for the poor. Yet another story claims that these nuns wore a bow on their behind, which is reminiscent of the shape of the pastry. Whatever the truth might be, we know one thing for sure: the nonnevotte from Limburg are really, really tasty!
The dough for the nonnevot is first kneaded, rolled, and folded into the right shape with love and care. They are then left to rest for a while. Because each nonnevot is made by hand, each one is different. They are then fried in oil, with the trick being not to make them too greasy. After that, you dip the nonnevotte in a mixture of granulated sugar and even some cinnamon if you like. Our mouths are watering already...
When do you eat a nonnevot?
If it were up to us, you'd eat them throughout the year. But, according to tradition, nonnevotte are eaten during Carnival. Nowadays, nonnevotte are available at bakeries in Limburg from about a month before Carnival until Ash Wednesday.
How do you eat a nonnevot?
We asked several Maastricht locals how they eat their nonnevot.
1. With your hands like a sandwich.
2. By pulling pieces from it.
3. On a plate with a fork like a proper pastry.
Other pastries that, like the nonnevot, are characteristic of the traditions and culture of Maastricht are the zweretege vinger and the Berliner doughnut. While you're at the bakery, you might as well try them all!