Some food is famous worldwide, like pizza and pasta, and often we get the question: what is typical Dutch food? Traditionally, Dutch cuisine is simple with vegetables, potatoes and meat or fish. Nowadays, mostly thanks to all the different nationalities in the Netherlands, we eat more cosmopolitan and ‘exotic’. Italian and Asian food is especially popular, but our cuisine has been also influenced by the former Dutch colony of Indonesia. The Dutch even eat their French fries with peanut sauce! Or with a combination of mayonnaise and peanut sauce, called ‘patatje oorlog’ (French fries war). Some Indonesian food is so integrated into the Netherlands that a lot of people see nasi, bami and peanut sauce/satay sauce as typical Dutch food.
The following dishes are in general eaten in winter. Stews, such as hachee, a stew of onions, beef and a thick gravy, and stamppot (Mash Pot), a traditional Dutch dish made of mashed potatoes with vegetables like sauerkraut, curly kale and endive. Another type of stamppot is hutspot, a combination of potatoes, carrots and onion. Stamppot is usually served with sausage or meat balls. Many Dutch people make a small puddle of gravy in the middle of their stamppot. Another typical meal when it’s cold outside is draadjesvlees (slow-braised beef that is tender and literally falls apart), with traditional accompaniments such as mashed or boiled potatoes and red cabbage with pieces of apple. Erwtensoep, also called “snert”, is the Dutch version of pea soup, a thick stew of green split peas, different cuts of pork, celeriac, carrots and potato. Slices of rookworst (smoked sausage) are added a few minutes before serving. A lot of the Dutch love to eat a bowl of hot Erwtensoep, particularly after ice-skating.
Poffertjes (mini pancakes) topped with powder sugar are very popular with children. Furthermore, the Dutch eat pancakes with maple syrup, or even in a more ‘hearty’ manner – with bacon and cheese. And of course every province and region in the Netherlands has its specialties. For example, dried sausages from Groningen, cheese from Edam, sugar bread from Friesland, and vlaai (a cake) from Limburg.
Dutch breakfast and lunch
For breakfast and lunch most Dutch eat a piece of bread with a variety of cold cuts, different types of cheese, peanut butter, or sweet toppings such as hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), chocolate spread or marmalade. Usually combined with a cup of tea or coffee and a glass of milk. With two meals a day using bread, this baked commodity comes in many varieties. The dominant type is whole grain bread, with additional sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Don’t forget to try a broodje kroket for lunch: a soft white bun with a deep-fried croquette filled with ragout. Try a classic first, such as a veal or beef kroket with a bit of mustard, and then taste some other flavors like chicken satay, goulash or shrimp.
Top 3 dishes that the Dutch miss when they are abroad:
There is not an English word for bitterballen. They are small crunchy balls with meat ragout inside. Be careful, they are deep-fried and served hot! Bitterballen are generally eaten with some mustard, as savoury snacks to go with drinks.
A stroopwafel is a sweet waffle made of two thin layers of baked batter with a caramel syrup filling in the middle. The best ones are the big warm stroopwafels, freshly prepared right in front of you on a waffle iron or the classic stroopwafels in packets at the supermarket Albert Heijn.
Salted herring seems to be raw fish but actually it’s ‘cooked’ by the salting. After salting, the herring is cleaned in a specific way: the head, the inside and the skin are removed, but the tail is left on, which is often used as a handle to hold the fish when lowering it into your mouth. The salted herring can be eaten with or without raw onions and pickles, sometimes on a soft roll. The best herring is the new herring served in June; it’s so tender that it melts in your mouth.
Dutch restaurants in Amsterdam
Recently more and more chefs have been rediscovering traditional Dutch recipes and cooking with local fresh ingredients that each season brings. A good example is
Restaurant De Kas, located in a wonderful renovated greenhouse in the East of Amsterdam. The chef creates one daily menu, based on the organic harvest of their own nursery. For a typical Dutch food experience, we can also recommend the following restaurants in the city centre of Amsterdam:
Restaurant Greetje, where the menu is composed of Dutch specialities, cooked with daily fresh and organic ingredients, and
Restaurant Moeders – a reasonably priced cosy place to enjoy Dutch food in an informal, homey atmosphere.
Here is a list of more Brown Cafes, Pancake Houses, and Restaurants in Amsterdam.