A seemingly simple question is a bit difficult to answer. And this difficulty comes from its simplicity. Dutch cuisine is limited to a few recipes from the time when farmers had a limited number of ingredients at their disposal. When it comes to the ‘dinner-like’ dishes, the very first thing that comes to my mind is stamppot. It is a stew dish and includes mashed potatoes with vegetables and meat. Insofar as Dutch cuisine is not so chic, Dutch snacks rule! Sometimes tasty, sometimes funny, sometimes really strange… and here are some examples:
1. ‘Really, what is Bitterballen?’
…ask foreigners. They are not what you would expect from the meatball – when you bite into, you get a nice crispy exterior contrasting with a creamy interior. God only knows what is inside, but they say these breadcrumb-covered balls have meat-ragout filling inside, traditionally made with beef, beef broth, flour, and seasonings. You will definitely find them on the table once you’ll go out for a beer to the bar with some Dutch friends.
2. Febo snacks in the middle of the night
This is one of the alternatives to fight a ‘night out hunger’. The chain of walk-up fast food spots offers a variety of snacks such as frikandel, croquet, etc. that you’ll see on exposure in glass displays. First, you walk up to the
window, then drop the correct amount in the slot, open the door, take out your snack and you’re saved!
3. Tompouce to celebrate!
A tompouce is a rectangular pastry. You have to find out your own best way they eat it as it’s almost impossible to do gracefully. It consists of two layers of puff pastry with yellow cream in between or sometimes whipped cream. On the top is mostly pink glaze. Many people eat an orange version during King’s Day. Tip: One of the benefits of having a customer card from Hema is that you can use it to get a free tompouce when it’s your birthday…
4. Haring straight to the throat
Northern European countries enjoy their own version of herring. Dutch people eat raw fish with some onions and pickles. You can get them whole, chopped into pieces and in a sandwich. The way the Dutch eat their herring is pretty interesting. The idea is that you grab the herring by its tail, throw your head and put it into the mouth in one piece.
5. Stroopwafel – sophisticated simplicity
The name stroopwafel perfectly captures the essence of this treat: “stroop” means “syrup” and “wafel” is simply a “waffle”. The snack consists of two round wafers and a sweet syrup between them. They are eaten while sipping tea or coffee, some also put stroopwafels on cups with a hot drink so that the steam softens the cake and melts the inside. Funny fact: It is not known exactly who and when produced the first stroopwafel, but according to many historians, they originated from Gouda (a city known way more from cheese than these cookies).
6. Hagelslag – great word to practice pronunciation and ‘ggg’
Apart from this, it’s a chocolate sprinkle. There would be nothing unusual in it because sweet sprinkles are known all over the world. The difference is that in other places they are usually used to sprinkle desserts or ice creams, and in the Netherlands they are sprinkled with bread. During the year, the Netherlands consumes about 14 million kilograms of hagelslag. That’s about 750,000 slices of bread sprinkled with chocolate … but it turns out that about 6% of Dutch people admit to eating crumbs directly from the box.
7. Drop – watch out with this one.
When it comes to tastes, especially culinary, everyone is guided by their own cups. And those, practiced since childhood in specific flavors, can turn sweet into something salty. A statistical Dutchman eats about 2 kilograms a year! Interesting to try – you might either love it or hate it.
By Gosia Gniatkowska