Still Life with a Gilt Cup, Willem Claesz. Heda, 1635. oil on panel, h 88cm × w 113cm.
Above is a 17th century still life which basically proves, in my opinion, that the Dutch invented the tablescape scene, an image which is now a staple of the food bloggers photographic repertoire.
Having lived previously in the Netherlands, I am not a complete stranger to Dutch food in the present day. I think it's fair to say that the country is not a famous culinary destination, though I'm hoping I can show you that it certainly does offer some delicious and interesting things to feast on!
So if are thinking of travelling to Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht or anywhere else in the Netherlands, this is the culinary guide for you!
Much of this guide is inspired by my recent trip to the Netherlands last November (which you can read about in more general terms
) It is all based on my experience of living and travelling around the country and for this reason much of the focus is on street food, all of which can be found in the major cities.
The Dutch actually were the first european nation to obtain live coffee plants for cultivation from Yemen. They quickly gained the monopoly on coffee cultivation in their overseas colonies and exported this back to europe. The Dutch remain passionate about coffee to this very day, with a well established culture of coffee houses (different to coffee shops!) and cafes, all of which in my experience are very good in terms of quality.
The Netherlands is actually where my love of coffee began and is the reason why I started my own coffee company shortly after graduating!
I really would recommend enjoying a coffee in an independent cafe, of which there are many. Such places also often turn into bars later on, enabling you move swiftly on to a bottle of belgian beer! Always a bonus...
There are also some good Dutch coffee chains, so there's no excuse to not leave Starbucks behind when travelling here! My recommendations would be:
- Very trendy, full of very good looking men, (in my experience!) lots of drink types and a choice of beans for connoisseurs.
- A bit more traditional and less hipster, though the coffee still is very good. The hot chocolates are also worth the visit alone!
Basically the Dutch answer to sandwitches, broodjes are readily available in numerous incarnations and filling variations. I personally enjoy a good broodje kaas - or cheese roll! They are a staple in the Dutch breakfast/lunch routine and make a good grab and go meal.
- Shown here: Freits and Satay Sauce from Miss New Foodie
Friets and Fritessaus
Stands selling chips (friets) can be found pretty much everywhere in the Netherlands. This is a really cheap lunch option if you are out and about in a big city and usually very popular with the locals too!
The friets are usually served in a cone and can be accompanied with fritessaus - a low fat mayo substitute. Alternatively you can go for ketchup, currysaus (spiced ketchup,) satay sauce, or Patat Oorlog (a combination of satay, raw onions and mayo.)
I'm a satay kind of girl, if you were wondering: peanuts for the win.
Automaat: Krokets, Frikandellen, Hamburgers, Kaassoufflés
Welcome to the land of the automatic snack! This is a pretty genius idea - think hot, cheap snacks, available pretty much everywhere, usually in busy areas such as stations and city centres. The vending machines are often part of a larger kiosk with a staffed counter from which you can purchase drinks and frites.
The vending machines are very simple - all you have to do is decide what you want, insert a few euros and bam! There are usually several things to choose from in the automats:
Krokets: Fried food rolls containing mashed potato and beef, also known as croquettes.
Frikandellen - Minced meat
hot dogs, the absence of skin means that there is a debate over whether to consider these guys sausages or not (either way, they are pretty delicious!)
Hamburgers - Pretty much the standard minced meat burger
- A whole lot of melted cheese inside a thin dough-based wrap which has been breaded and then deep-fried. They may well be little heart attacks in a vending machine, however they are so so so good for the soul.
Very similar to Krokets and another type of snack food, these little balls of ground meat are deep fried and often served with mustard or mayo. We ordered ours to share with friends over a couple of beers.
Sweet Goods In General
From what I can gather, Dutch cuisine seems to specialise in delicious food which is also insanely bad for you (the keyword here is: fried.) It's therefore no surprise that when it comes to sweet treats, the Netherlands has some serious game going. Here are some specialities to watch out for:
Poffertjes - These little round pancakes are much lighter and fluffier than their British or American counterparts and come served with powdered sugar, butter and sometimes syrup.
Pannenkoek - Dutch pancakes are large and thin, similar in shape to crepes but without the butter enriched batter. Eat at a Pannenkoekenhuis for a range of both savoury and sweet options!
Stroopwafel - These waffles are made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. They are best served warm straight from a street vendor in my opinion, however packs of the waffles can be bought in supermarkets.
These guys literally translate into english as "oil balls"but don't let that put you off! These deep fried dumplings are very similar to doughnuts and can often be found served from street stalls around the Christmas period, as they were traditionally consumed on Christmas Eve.
Oliebollen (oliebol in the singular) are usually dusted with icing sugar and can sometimes come in different varieties, including fillings such as apple and chocolate.
Soused Herring: B
Raw herring is very much a dutch delicacy and again is another example of street food in the Netherlands. Usually served from kiosks, soused herring is marinated and can be served on its own or with chopped onions. It can also be found in a sandwich form as "broodje haring." I would argue that this is a pretty nutritious snack, though maybe not for the faint hearted!
Another excellent example of street food at it's best, Kibbeling is one of my personal favourite indulgences. It consists of pieces of white fish, usually cod, coated in batter then fried. It is often served with garlic mayo.
Kibbeling" is a corruption of the word "cod cheek." The cheeks were separately excised and were once offered as "fried fish". The original cod cheeks have a very distinct taste and texture and are incomparable with the usually offered as a snack (fake) kibbeling.
I hope this post has been interesting/of use for those who are looking to travel to the Netherlands!
Are there any Dutch foods that you particularly enjoy? Have I missed anything out? Do you have any recommendations for places to eat in Amsterdam or further afield that you want to share? - If so, let me know!
P.S Don't forget to enter my first giveaway to win a selection of Vincent's Coffee! It's running until the 10th January, you can enter
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