Dutch cuisine stayed rustic and largely agrarian till the very recent past when the large international chains and brands have made a few inroads. Bread and potatoes play a vital role in every meal and are staples across the country. Fresh vegetables and seasonal fruit are abundant at any table and even young children are taught to enjoy them. The country is well known for a large variety of dairy products and especially many of the most popular cheeses. Other trademark foods also include sausages and cookies with various fillings such as almond paste.
Whether on a holiday to Amsterdam or there for a longer visit, there are some edible treats that no one should miss. Here is a short list of some of them in no particular order.
Easily found all over the country, Bitterballen is a delicious any-time-of-day snack. These deep fried round balls have a crunchy bread crumbed exterior. But it is what is inside that makes them such a favorite. A sticky mixture of beef, beef broth, spices, flour and butter is filled into each, making each bite a trip to food heaven. A word of caution, the stuffing is usually volcanically hot so take to not sald your tongue.
‘Stroop’ means syrup and the stroopwafel is literally a syrup waffle. It originated in Gouda and till the 1870s they were exclusively made only there. This delicacy is just 2 thin waffle cookies sandwiched together with a sweet and sticky syrup. It goes really well with a hot cup of tea or coffee and the perfectly sized stroopwafel will fit perfectly on the top of a coffee or tea cup.
Hollandse Nieuwe Haring
This very interesting dish, although quite possibly an acquired taste, should definitely be tasted once to complete your Amsterdam experience. It comprises of raw herring served with chopped onions. The herring has to be caught between May and July. The fresh fish is usually gutted on the boat and the pancreas is left in it. The enzymes in the pancreas do a good job of preserving the fish, so that only a proportionately lesser quantity of salt is required.
This is something everyone who is young at heart should get their hands on. It is a seasonal treat and usually available during the time of the Sinterklaas festival in the Netherlands. Started in the Middle Ages, chocoladeletters are letters of the alphabet made out of chocolate. All letters of the alphabet are made, except Q,U,Y or Z as there are very few Dutch names that start with these letter. The chocolate letters are made of brown, white or dark chocolate and can be gifted to friends and family or are left in shoes and stockings as a gift from Sinterklaas. As a gift, it is the first letter of a person’s name that is given in the form of a chocoladeletter.
Stamppot is considered by many to be the heart of Dutch cuisine, although it is far from any pretense of fine dining. This hearty dish has a generous serving of mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables like peas, carrots or kale. Nestled on top of this is a rookworst (smoked sausage) and thick dark gravy. Stamppot tastes best when made in the kitchen of a Dutch housewife.
Finally, don’t forget about cheese! Visit the Gouda Cheesemarket to find out more about Dutch cheese and try it.