Muisjes (pronounced “mouse-yuhs”) mean literally “little mouses”. Ok “little mice” in proper English. According to Wikipedia, they got that name because anise seeds look like little mice, and the flavor of these little candy balls is that of anise. The little balls look more like mouse turds, but that’s just my warped sense of humor.
And why would you be served these little treats? Again, according to Wikipedia, and those writers know everything, as far back as the 17th century people were served hard dry biscuits, with a spread of butter, and topped with muisjes when a baby is born. You used to be able to get only white muisjes. In the 20th century they started making pink and white ones. Only very recently (in the memory of 30 somethings now having kids) could you also get blue and white ones. Now, when a baby boy is born, and visitors come to see the new arrival, they are served muisjes, just like you see above.
Our next door neighbors just had a baby boy. He is absolutely adorable (really), is only just 2 weeks old, and already has a personality different from his 3 year old sister. As someone who doesn’t have kids, this whole newborn thing is fascinating to me. We were there yesterday, our second visit to the baby F. And we were served the above photographed muisjes.
Muisjes are very crunchy, and taste faintly of black licorice, the biscuits underneath are very dry and hard and kind of tasteless. They aren’t anything you would be tempted to serve at any other time. No one ever says “Man I wish someone would have a baby so I could get muisjes!” They are traditional, and sweet and nice, but certainly not special for the food part of it. It’s just another “only in the Netherlands” kind of thing that I think is really special and sets this place apart from other places.