What is Kermis?

Where did the summer go?  I'm just appalled that I've noticed leaves beginning to change on a few trees even before school was back in session. September is bountiful with late summer harvest of fresh vegetables and ushers in fall... and that's why one of the first fall celebrations in the County will be Kermis.  Rice pie may appear a little anemic, but it's definitely delicious. Don't let a pale pie fool you!

What is Kermis? Kermis is a tradition that many of the Belgian immigrants brought with them when they came to this country, along with several other customs still observed today. After harvesting had been completed, it was customary for the people of Belgium to go to church to give thanks for a bountiful harvest, then party like rock stars. There was feasting, dancing, card games and more, which lasted for as long as three days.  The filling for fruit pies are usually prepared the day before because it takes an entire day to bake the large batches. (photo Edible Door)

The celebration of Kermis in Door County use to run over several calendar weeks as each small settlement (Namur, Brussels, Rosiere, Little Sturgeon, Forestville and communities in Kewaunee County, Lincoln, Duvall, Casco etc.)took their turn with the festivities. Like many festivals, food was, and continues, to be a focal point. With Kermis, we're talking pie.... Belgian pie.  Sure, you'll want to enjoy some Trippe (pronounced 'trihp', which is a brat-like sausage with a slightly saltier stuffing that includes cabbage; very tasty), and you'll want to enjoy a bowl of booyah (pronounced boo-yah, a version of hearty chicken soup on steroids). But pie...oh the pie. 

Historically, the women in the villages would single handedly bake 100-200 pies... EACH!!  What does one do with so many pies? You would sell them at the taverns and give them as gifts... and eat A LOT of pie. Now, Belgian pie isn't the usual pastry style crust. The long guarded recipes start with a sweet yeast dough. There are two styles; one is a rice pudding filling which is then topped with fresh whipped cream, the other is a fruit filling of apple, cherry, prune or raisin which is then topped with a cream cheese center and baked. Talking about your favorite flavor of Belgian pie can be a very polarizing conversation with any true Southern Door Belgian (y' know we're very opinionated to begin with) so go with rice or apple and at least you'll be safe with my family circle. Kermis will be celebrated in Brussels with one large festival on September 21st.