Dutch food is much more different than I would ever have expected, including some very strange habits like chocolate sandwiches for breakfast. Favourite foods include potatoes, cabbage, and dairy products. Meat cuts are different also and lamb is very rare. As are proper ovens. On my second day in the Netherlands I tried to buy a whole silverside to boil but even the butchers had no idea what I was talking about. Cooking meat is usually by frying or in a stew.
Meal times aren't too different apart from Breakfast. Breakfast is a light meal usually consisting of bread. The breakfast sandwich or open sandwich will often be of chocolate spread, hagelslag (see below), jam, or cheese. The breakfast cake, "ontbijkoek" is popular and a boiled egg makes a nice change. Cereal is becoming more common. Lunch is usually another bread and butter meal. The Dutch love bread! Open sandwiches (Uitsmijter) topped with ham, cheese, and egg are popular. So are rolls with a herring or tuna salad. Dinner is the hot meal of the day and usually consists of meat and vegetables. Soup is very popular as a midday or evening meal or as an entree. The favourite soups are pea, tomato, or curry.
Here is a list of some popular and typical Dutch foods. The following pages contain traditional Dutch recipes.
Raw herring is a delicacy in the Netherlands. The fish is cleaned and the head removed. It is eaten by picking up the fish by the tail and allowing it to slowly slide into your mouth. This seems to be considered the only way to eat it. I am afraid I have not yet succumbed to trying raw fish.
This sweet pie or pastry is typically from the southern provinces of Limburg and Brabant in the Netherlands. It comes in all kinds of varieties and is always served at a Dutch birthday (as the birthday cake). It usually contains fruit fillings but also comes with other fillings. Although it is typically from the southern provinces, it is available throughout the country.
Put simply, vla is custard. This is an extremely popular pudding. The most common flavours are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or a combination of two. However, other unique flavours include bitterkoekjes and hopjes.
Basically, poffertjes are very tiny pancakes which are served warm with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. You can make them at home, buy them in bags from the supermarket, or get them from a poffertjes market stall.
Hot Chips, French Fries, whatever you want to call them. Frites are an extremely popular snack and they are usually served in a paper cone with frite sauce. Now what is frite sauce? Well it is mayonnaise with a touch of mustard in it. Forget the ketchup, vinegar or whatever you are used to. In Holland, you have mayonnaise on your chips/fries. Another popular sauce for frites is sate sauce.
Kroket and Frikandel
Krokets are just like the croquettes that are known world wide and frikandel is a type of suasage. They are available at all snack places, deep fried, and contain some kind of meat but you probably don't have any desire to find out what kind it is.
Tartaar (Filet American)
This is a blend of raw mince with other ingredients such as onion, anchovy, raw egg, capers, and worcestershire sauce. It is served on bread in cafe's and is also available in butcher shops for preparing at home. It is eaten uncooked and although it is not a traditionally Dutch food, it is very popular here. I don't think I will ever be trying this particular Dutch favourite.
Dutch liquorice (drop) comes in many flavours, shapes, and textures. It is hard or soft, salty or sweet. Coin shapes are probably the best loved but I prefer the black cats. There is honey drop and many other varieties which are said to be addictive if eaten in large quantities. I have seen evidence to this being very true.
Chocolate sprinkles that are more commonly found on cakes. These are sprinkled on bread and butter as a favourite sandwich topping and come in a number of varieties. Also available in other flavours.
The literal term is mice. Muisjes are made from anise and have a sugar coating. Traditionally they are served on a thick, round, crisp, bread when celebrating the birth of a baby. Blue and white muisjes would be used for a boy while pink and white would be used for the birth of a girl.
The Dutch love their cheese and they sure have cause to. They make the most wonderful cheeses here including Gouda and Edam. Another famous cheese town is Alkmaar and well worth the tourist visit if in Holland.
Heineken brand beer was first brewed in Amsterdam in 1592 by the widow of a brewer, Weijntgen Elberts. The nearly 300 year old brewery is purchased by 22 year old Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1864. The company grows and expands and by 1960, they now have 4 breweries in the Netherlands and 24 abroad. In 1968, the company took over Amstel while they continue to grow abroad. In the 1990's they became the second largest brewer in the world. Their sales in over 170 countries made Heineken the most international beer brand in the world.
The Dutch love international foods with a special fondness for Chinese and Indian. You will find a Chinese restaurant in every town or city, no matter how big or small. Many Indian favourites include the very popular Nasi and Bami. Kebabs are extremely popular while Greek and Italian are also common.
The Dutch BBQ
The Dutch BBQ is so different to the great Aussie tradition. There is no plain steak or rissoles whacked on a bread roll here. In fact, you most likely won't even find any breadrolls at a Dutch BBQ, but just french sticks. All the meat is fancy meats such as spicy bacon, marinated chicken, marinated steak, kebabs on a stick, and all kinds of gourmet meats. This is served with salads on a plate and not a burger in sight.
The Dutch prefer to cook at home and takeaway is not something that is all that common here. Besides pizza shops and McDonalds, there are not too many takeaway franchises away from the big train stations. At the bigger train stations and a couple of the cities like Amsterdam, you can find Burger King, a Pizza Hut counter, and some other favourites, however these take out places are few in number. There are Dutch snack bars that sell a variety of burgers, frites, and other fried meals as well as milk shakes and the like. And you can find small restaurants that do take away pizzas and pastas, etc. An iteresting way to get takeaway in Holland is from the wall. There are snack bars that have rows of little windows where you slot in a coin and choose what snack you would like much like a drink machine or similar. This really amazed me when I first saw these walls of snack windows as it was something I had never come across or considered in my wildest dreams.