The Key To Loving Dutch Food
The Dutch are a lot of things. They are for example the tallest people in the world. I’ll never forget what it was like when I first moved here. I didn’t carry an umbrella in the rain because at 1 meter 64 I could walk under everyone else without them even noticing me. The average Dutch male is 1 meter 83. That is literally, 20 centimeters taller than I am. The Dutch are not, however, master chefs. It was tough for me to learn to love Dutch food, being an international transplant. The very first time someone offered me a “bitterbal” ( literally, translates to “bitter ball”) I took one bite and promptly spit it back out.
But it has been almost 15 years, and now this girl makes some of the best “boerenkool” in town. So grab a plate, sit down and let me share with you the key to loving Dutch food.
VIS ( Fish )
1. Haring ( Herring)
Holland is a dark and rainy country. At least, the winter feels that way. Long and cold and dark, missing sunlight. Lack of sunlight means limited Vitamin D. Low Vitamin D means depression, moodiness and a whole slew of other challenges. That means we need to find sources of food that are rich in Vitamin D.
The Dutch eat their herring raw and whole. In one bite, dangling over their open mouths like baby birds waiting for dinner. Eaten raw with onions, or consumed as seen here, on bread. It is something you’ll just have to try for yourself when visiting this great little country.
2. Kibbelingen (Batter Dipped Deep Fried Cod)
Kibbling is one of my favorite Dutch treats. Batter dipped and deep fried, bought from the Fish Farmer at the market. We eat kibbling with a delicious garlic based tartar sauce and covered in delicious herbs and spices.
It is a tradition here in some offices and families that once a week is fresh fish day. The best kibbling is made from fresh cod, though some places offer frozen kibbling.
3. Gerookte Paling ( Smoked Eel)
The Netherlands are lowlands, close to the sea and water. The people here are fish lovers. One of the most famous delicacies is smoked European Eel. The eel is both farmed and caught wild. Threatened with extinction people are more likely to choose farmed smoked eel for their next meal.
I can not tell you much about the flavor of the consistency of this Dutch treat, as I have not been brave enough to eat it in my 15 years here. There is something about the idea of eating eel that I am unable to get over. Maybe next summer I’ll be brave enough to try, then I’ll tell you all about it!
Vlees ( Meat)
4. Kroket ( Doesn’t Translate)
I can not say where this fascination with batter dipping and deep frying everything comes from. The majority of the most typical Dutch treats are batter dipped and deep fried. The kroket is another example of this phenomenon. What initially turned me off of foods like this, was the assumption that they are solid foods.
Despite the illusion, kroketten are not entirely solid food. Filled with a gray meat gravy, they are crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. The gravy is a kind of ragout, made from meat and veg and cooked down into a smooth, creamy sauce. There are different types of kroketten, from calf’s meat to beef. Not to mention the different brands, but every Dutchman knows
Not to mention the different brands, but every Dutchman knows Van Dobben’s are the best! Often served on bread and slathered with mayonnaise or mustard, this is one Dutch treat you just have to try for yourself!
5. Bitterballen ( Also Doesn’t Translate)
The bitterbal is just a different take on the kroket. Often served at parties or in bars, they are a delicious companion to an ice cold beer! The important thing to remember is that they are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. If you don’t know this, the meaty ragout may take you by surprise. These are one of my most favorite Dutch treats. The first time I ever had one, I was quite turned off by the consistency. But time teaches us, and I have learned to love this
These are one of my most favorite Dutch treats. The first time I ever had one, I was quite turned off by the consistency. But time teaches us, and I have learned to love this delicious crunchy little bar treat.
6. Frikandel ( Doesn’t Translate)
The frikandel is a type of deep fried sausage. The Dutch aren’t big on fast food, but there is at least one snack bar in every village. Most often served with fresh chopped onions, slathered in mayonnaise and curry sauce, it ‘s hard to say what this tastes like other than hot gooey goodness!
7. Boerenkool ( Farmer’s Kale)
The winter in Holland is long and cold. We do have all four seasons here yet there is little difference between the wet gray autumn and the gray, wet winter. Winter brings with it the best Dutch comfort foods in town. Boerenkool is boiled kale, served with smashed boiled potatoes and sausage.
Boerenkool is most often served with a selection of toppings from pickled onions to bacon bits. Some people dribble it with vinegar, and others prefer a nice brown gravy. If you are feeling adventurous, combine the two!
8. Stampot (Smashed Potatoes with Veg)
Potatoes are a staple in the Dutch diet. Boiled and mashed potato stampot is a winter meal you just can not avoid. Stampot is made with a variety of veggies from carrots and onions to Sauer kraut. Each dish has its unique flavor and always accompanies a delicious Dutch sausage. Dutch Grandma’s make the best stampot, so if you don’t have a Dutch grandma borrow someone else’s and ask them to make you a delicious winter stampot!
9. Patat Oorlog ( French Fry War)
A day out in Holland is not complete without having had at least one portion of patat. Patat is the Dutch word for French Fries. Thick cut, salty chips are eaten as an entire meal. The patat oorlog or french fry war as it is so eloquently called is another delicious treat you just have to try. They top the fries with onions, mayonnaise, peanut sauce and curry for a battle of flavors to entertain your taste buds.
So you see, the key to loving Dutch food is two things. The first one is knowledge, knowing what it is your biting makes all the difference in the world. The second key is beer. It is always beer. The best way to eat these delicious Dutch delicacies is after having at least three excellent ice cold Dutch beers!
As the Dutch say “Eet smakkelijk!”