Dutch cuisine isn’t exactly famous. Many people even make fun of it but here’s our secret confession: we like it! It’s simple yet hearty and somehow just generally comforting.
Here are some of our favourite ‘Dutch delights’.
If you’re looking for a good value meal, you can’t get a healthier or a cheaper meal for the price than fresh herring (haring). They cost about €2 and are traditionally served with fresh onions and pickles. Eating herring isn’t elegant but it is fun! Pick up the freshly cleaned herring by the tail, hold it above your mouth, tilt up your head and slide it in. If this sounds intimidating, you can also get your herring on a bread roll (broodje).
The best places to buy herring (and the #2 item on this list, Fish ‘n’ Chips) is from a busy fish stand. Most of them look something like this.
#2. Fish ‘n’ Chips
This isn’t England but the Dutch have almost as strong a love for fried fish. Lekkerbek is a whole piece of battered and deep fried fish, while kibbeling are smaller pieces of fish, also battered and fried. Think of them as fish nuggets. Any fish stall serving fried fish will also offer french fries (friets) with a variety of sauces such as mayonnaise, ketchup, peanut and curry sauces.
In the winter, there’s nothing the Dutch like more than to cook up a big dish of stamppot. At its most basic, this is just mashed potatoes mixed with kale and served with a smoked sausage (rookworst) on top. There are, however, tons of variations. Instead of kale, other vegetables such as sauerkraut or endives may be mixed in with the potatoes. When carrots are mashed in with the potatoes and the sausage is replaced with stewed beef, you get a variation known as hutspot.
#4. Apple Cake
In the desert department, our personal favourite is a thick slice of appletaart or appelgebak (deep dish apple pie), topped with slagroom (whipped cream). This is universally available at cafes everywhere. The best apple cakes are homemade. To ensure apple cake happiness, look for a sign advertising huisgemakte appeltaart or (if you read Dutch) find a winner on the Appeltaart Test Blog. A slice of cake plus a coffee will cost €3-5.
For a filling and good-value lunch, you can’t go wrong with the uitsmijter. It’s an open-faced sandwich of 3 fried eggs (sunny side up), served on top of ham, cheese and bread. It often comes with a small salad on the side and rarely costs more than €6-7.
Dutch pannenkoeken are halfway between a thin French crepe and a fluffy American pancake. They’re the size of a dinner plate and served with various toppings.
One of the most traditional toppings is spek (bacon) with a thick sugar syrup called stroop drizzled on top. It’s a lovely combination of salty, sweet carbohydrate-filled goodness.
Similar to pancakes are poffertjes, mini pancakes topped with icing sugar and butter. Heaven!
If you happen to visit the Netherlands around Christmas and New Year’s, you’ll probably see tons of Oliebollen stands set up in every town. Oliebollen are like the Dutch version of doughnuts (Wikipedia explains better than I can). The stands that sell the Oliebollen always look something like this.
The oliebollen themselves are fairly cheap but don’t buy a dozen unless you have a crowd to feed. They’re very filling!
That’s all for now! We’ll keep adding to this list as we have time and take more photographs.