Traditional Dutch cuisine is straightforward and hearty. The winter chill is kept at bay with simple dishes such as erwtensoep (pea soup) and stamppot (mashed potatoes cooked with sauerkraut), eaten with rookworst (smoked sausage).
Herring is the most popular fish to eat, pickled or ‘green’ from street vendors in Amsterdam. Oysters, mussels, and smoked eel come in close behind. Popular snacks include bitterballen (fried meatballs), krokets (rissoles), and fries bought from street vendors and eaten topped with mayonnaise, straight from the paper cone.
The Dutch have a sweet tooth, and adore pannenkoek (pancakes) and thicker, sweet poffertjes served with extra butter and sprinkled with sugar, stroopwafels (wafers oozing with syrup), and oliebollen (donuts). Sweet and salt liquorice comes in all shapes and sizes and everybody pours chocolate sprinkles on both sweet and savory broodjes (sandwiches) – enjoyed with a strong cup of black coffee at lunchtime.
Holland has been making cheese since 400AD and is the largest exporter of cheese in the world. Cheese is entwined with the Dutch pysche and is an important ingredient in contemporary Dutch cooking. Cheese is eaten at breakfast, lunch, and dinner; it flavors bread, fills sandwiches, and covers burgers. The country’s most famous cheeses are Edam, which comes in great yellow rounds, and Gouda, always wrapped in red wax, but goats’ cheese, Maasdammer, and smoked cheeses are also well-loved.
With the influx of people from across the world into The Netherlands, anything goes in the country’s cuisine, particularly in the capital Amsterdam and the port city of Rotterdam. Chinese, Surinamese, Turkish, Indian, Indonesian, Italian, and Mediterranean cusine has been accepted into the Dutch gourmet lexicon since immigration first began in the 17th century. Indonesian rijstaffel is practically a Dutch staple dish, with restaurants in Amsterdam offering a feast of up to 15 small plates of savory rice, meats, curries, and dim sum all to be eaten together.
Book a tour of Amsterdam’s culinary hotspots with a Small-Group Amsterdam Bike Tour.
Contributed by Sasha Heseltine