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Original gentrifiers: Eat and drink like our Dutch forefathers at city’s oldest house

Brooklyn Daily
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Turns out hipsters are not the first Brooklyn foodies.

The borough’s obsession with all things food and drink-related began hundreds of years ago, according to a couple of historians who are giving modern-day foodies a chance to eat like the old-school Dutch in Brooklyn — who may have eaten a little better than us.

“Without getting too political, I would say that we probably eat worse [than they did],” said Joshua Van Kirk, the executive director of the historic Wyckoff House.

“The heirloom seeds they used hadn’t been genetically modified or polluted with pesticides and were probably healthier than our system.”

The Wyckoff House, which dates to 1652, making it the oldest house in the city, will host an event dedicated to the edible history of Breuckelen’s first European inhabitants, who were invested in two staples still critical to many modern Brooklynites as well: bread and beer — or “brood” and “bier.”

Then, as now, home-brewing was booming in the borough, but without modern-day wonders like Kumbucha and vegan Bloody Marys, the colonist’s slightly less alcoholic beer flowed three meals a day for both adults and kids.

“Each outlying area of Dutch settlement — like Breuckelen — would have had its own brewer,” said Van Kirk. “Most everything had alcohol in it because the common fear of drinking water.”

Participants at the event will get to drink beer and make some bread in a traditional method cooked in a Dutch oven on a coal pit.

As the museum points out, they’ve lucked out that the passion of modern Brooklynites have come to resemble those of the borough’s first gentrifiers.

“A lot of what we’re interested in today was present 300 to 400 years ago,” said Melissa Branfman, the director of education at the house. “Brooklyn has certainly changed, but people are interested in things like farming and sustainability and eating local. That’s what the Wyckoff family was doing.”

Bread and brew at the Wyckoff House Museum [5816 Clarendon Rd. between Ralph Avenue and East 59th St. in V’Lacke Bos (718) 629–5400]. Mar. 9, 4 pm. $20, 21 and over. Reservation required.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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