Anytime you travel one of the most challenging, exciting and perplexing things can be eating. There are menus to unravel and strange untranslatable things that may or may not be the biggest culinary mistake or discovery of your life. Whether or not you’ll find out depends how brave you are.
As a vegetarian I find this particularly challenging, especially in countries which argue that chicken is not meat. Happily, the Netherlands is fairly easy to negotiate, even for a vegetarian. Mind you, vegans would probably be challenged by all the cheese. To eat cheaply and easily in the Netherlands, look for the holes in the wall, of ‘uit de muur’. These are coin in the slot food machines found in many snack bars. Similarly there are tiny hole in the wall cafes dotted around shopping districts where you can buy a coffee and pastry, or, often, French fries served with lots of different sauces.
For such a skinny culture of people, it’s amazing how many French fries they eat; I guess all that bicycle riding works off the carbs. There are lots of carbs in Poffertjes, small pancakes with sugar on top; delicious. I was also amazed to see grown men and women sprinkling their bread with chocolate. In my family we were banned from doing that once we left school but the Dutch often have boxes of chocolate sprinkles at hand – heaven.
A less happy experience was Dutch liquorice. Known as Drop, be careful of accepting this as the offerer may be waiting to get a good laugh when you hit the middle, which turns out to be salty beyond belief. All was forgiven when I discovered Stroopwafel – round waffle-style wafers with caramel syrup sandwiched in the middle. Then there’s the raw herring. Stands selling this delicacy pop up throughout summer but approach with caution – it’s another oh so salty treat.
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