Meat, potatoes and vegetables have long been staple foods in the Netherlands. But dishes from Indonesia, Turkey and Spain are starting to add spice to the Dutch diet.
How many Dutch restaurants do you have in your home town?
Yes, I thought so.
Not too many.
That's not to say that food in The Netherlands is necessarily bad. It's certainly filling, provides good nutrition and keeps out the cold wind. But it is not very exciting. That's why it is often said that unlike the French, who live to eat, the Dutch eat to live.
Take stamppot, for example. This dish of mashed potato with cooked vegetables and meat stirred in is a staple. And there's hutspot - a kind of stew that is said to have fed the starving after the siege of Leiden ended. Then we have erwtensoep, a pea soup in which floats ham and vegetables. All very hearty and guaranteed to keep out the cold, but not very exciting. It's hardly surprising that nouvelle cuisine, with its small, immaculately presented portions, failed to take off in The Netherlands. And a good thing too.
What you'll get in The Netherlands is filling food. On our tour through The Netherlands culinary day we'll find plenty to whet the appetite too.
- Plenty of tea or coffee, served with milk
- Sliced bread of various types
- Butter, jam or chocolate flakes to put on the bread
- Thinly sliced cheese or meat - again to lay over the bread
- Breakfast cereals
- ... more coffee
Usually a quick and light meal at around 12.30pm
- Cheese and meat layered on bread, eaten with a knife and fork
- Or perhaps an uitsmijter - two fried eggs with cheese or ham on bread
Main meal of the day at about 7pm
Dishes may include:
- Erwtensoep, hutspot or stampot, as described above
- Fish from a wide variety of Dutch seafood
- Bruine bonen met spek - brown beans with bacon
A variety of snacks can be bought from street stalls, including:
- 'Patat': Potato chips smothered with mayonnaise - and sometimes with ketchup too
- 'Nieuwe haring': Raw herring, slid down the throat whole, holding the fillet by the tail. Not for the faint-hearted.
- 'Gerookte paling': Smoked eels served with a bread roll
- Turkish takeaway: 'broodje shoarma', bread roll with lamb and garlic sauce
- 'Pannenkoeken': pancakes, with a variety of fillings
- 'Kroket': deep fried roll of meatless meatloaf
- 'Fricandel': deep fried roll of minced pig's snout
- 'Warme kookworst', or "Hemaworst": a meaty speciality of the famous Hema store
- 'Oliebollen': round doughnuts with raisins. At Christmas and New Year, special stalls can be found all over the country.
Chinese and Indonesian restaurants and takeaways are found in even the smallest villages. Particularly popular is Rijsttafel, which is often ordered at special occasions and contains a large variety of meats, fish, spices and vegetables you share with your friends.
During the last decade the Dutch, particularly younger people with higher incomes, have discovered Japanese, Lebanese, Spanish and Cajun cuisine. Restaurants have sprung up in the cities, and shops selling ingredients are becoming increasingly popular.
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