Traditional Dutch food (part 1) - Must try for expats!
As an expat in the Netherlands you already know, of course, that the Dutch are famous for ‘Going Dutch’, ‘Dutch Courage’ and ‘Dutch roads’. Okay and let’s not forget about our wooden shoes and windmills.
We are famous for a lot (or not!) but our ‘cuisine’ (keuken), remains unsurprisingly, not exactly famous. When was the last time you and your expat friends were on holiday and you said to each other, let’s go out for some Dutch food tonight? You say let’s go out for Italian or even perhaps a burger. That there are not many Dutch restaurants abroad (if we compare it to the Italian, Spanish and French) already says enough! I believe though, that these 8 Dutch dishes/snacks are really a must try for expats!
Please keep in mind that the Dutch like to eat early... And yes, I am one of them. I really like to eat around 6 pm during weekdays (at the weekends I get a little crazy, eating a little later). If you go to a restaurant, normal dinner times (etenstijd) are around 7 pm or 8 pm. If you want to start dining around 10 pm, check with the restaurant if this is possible (and maybe also if you are not the only one), especially during weekdays. Our early dinner time might be difficult for expats to adjust too.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my favourite Dutch food are pancakes. Dutch pancakes are thinner than American or Scottish pancakes, but not as thin as crêpes and often filled with all kinds of things, eggs, bacon(spek) or even just covered in syrup!
'Poffertjes', are kind of small pancakes. They are a little more fluffy than pancakes. You can often find them at street/food markets and we eat them with sugar and butter.. (okay… I think you guys already know why we have to cycle!)
Another snack I really like (or maybe even love) are 'bitterballen', especially with/after a couple of beers. Bitterballen are deep fried crispy meatballs, you can dip them in some mustard. But, watch out, the inside of the ‘bitterbal’ can be very hot! Take my word for it, if you’ve eaten enough ‘bitterballen’ you can skip dinner. Usually, 'bitterballen' go down very well with tourists and expats.
If you put several ‘bitterballen’ together you get a ‘kroket’. I know, we give it a totally different name and pretend that it is something totally different. I do have to say, the ‘experience’ can be totally different if you get them at the ‘Febo’. Here you have a ‘snack vending machine’.
5. Lekker Frieten!
What’s different about the Dutch fries? We like them thick 🙂 often they get served in a paper cone and traditionally we eat them with mayonnaise, but of course, we have many other sauces like ‘curry ketchup’ and ‘Joppiesaus’. You can also order a ‘patatje oorlog’ (‘war fries’), they give you a ‘battlefield or taste’. It are fries with peanut sauce, mayonnaise and onions. To be politically correct, some people call it fries ‘party’ or ‘peace’, to be honest, the Dutch know it under ‘patatje oorlog’.
At a ‘patatje speciaal’ the sauce is a mix of curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onions. Just to clarify, we add the '-tje' to patat, to make it sound ‘small’ but in general, we like good portions!
When I was living as an expat outside of the Netherlands, this was really one of my favourite snacks to bring back from ‘home’. What is there not to like about 'stroopwafels'! Put them on top of your hot tea or coffee so that the syrup melts inside… Lekker!!!
7. Say cheese!
Maybe this is not a favourite of everyone (especially not the stronger - ‘older’ cheeses). But who doesn’t like a ‘boterham met kaas’? Maybe a tip for new expats, start with eating ‘jonge kaas’ the taste is less strong unless you like strong cheese, then congratulations you’re officially Dutch now!
I actually don’t know any Dutchies who (regularly) eat 'ontbijtkoek' for breakfast. 'Ontbijtkoek' literally means ‘breakfast cake’. It is a delicious ginger cake and it comes in slices. If you want to get a real good ‘ontbijtkoek' experience’ put a thick layer of butter on top! For the cyclists who reads this… great cycling fuel since it is very rich in carbs!