As with every country, there is always a distinct dish or type of cuisine that represents the culture. Just like paella in Spain, couscous in Morocco, or even the assortment of briskets, steaks, and hamburgers in the United States- a national dish or staple cuisine stands out. In the Netherlands, you will find a cuisine that is traditionally simple and straightforward; with some special staples that are mouthwatering enough that you will not have to look elsewhere.
Just as the Dutch prefer a straightforward and rather simple approach to most situations, their cuisine is not much different. Traditionally, breakfast is usually served with brown bread and assortments of cheese, jam, and a special sweet sprinkle known as “hagelslag”.
While it may be rather strange to find people eating sprinkles for breakfast, it is truly an exotic breakfast feature when chocolate or sweet tasting hagelslag is sprinkled on top of a butter-smeared piece of bread. For lunch, many of the Dutch pack an assortment of sandwiches while at work; typically a “tostie”- a toasted cheese and ham sandwich, a sausage roll, or a “broodje kroket”- a deep fried meat croquet on a soft white bun. Similar to breakfast, lunch is often simple and easy to carry and finish.
Savory Dutch Pancake
For dinner, the Dutch usually would have finished eating by 7 pm. The early dining consists of the usual meat with vegetables, accompanied with potatoes and possibly some gravy. It is expected to find a variety of stews and pot roasts as a traditional meal for dinner- with “rookworst”; a smoked sausage that is extremely popular and sold in bulk at almost every supermarket. Furthermore, it would not be surprising to see Dutch pancakes served with “stroop”- or syrup- offering another unique mix of salty and sweet delight. The savory Dutch pancakes can also be eaten for breakfast or lunch, and are found everywhere in stores as well.
If you find yourself after a quick snack or treat in the Netherlands- you are in the right place because a snack bar is always around the corner. While the main meals during the day are relatively simple and avoid much stress in preparation, you can find an assortment of snacks or sweets that will surely fill that aching gap in your stomach.
A popular snack is called “Kaastruffel”- fried cheese balls that are absolutely savory, as well as a “Kaassouffle’”- another melted cheese dish that is wrapped in a dough pastry. Both snacks involve a lot of creamy “kaas” (cheese in case you haven’t figured out about Dutch cuisine yet) – and can be found in many little stores scattered around Holland. Another famous snack delicacy involves a minced meat-hot dog originating from Belgium called “Frikandel”- and is often sold in stores along with Kassouffle and krokets.
On the topic of fried snacks, it is also absolutely essential to mention that the French Fries (or “Patat”) in the Netherlands is possibly the most delicious you will ever find.
You will hear about the French fries before even landing in the Netherlands, and are truly unique. They are often sold in stands that specifically focus on French Fries- and often serve milkshakes or the traditional Dutch snacks mentioned earlier. Each serving of fries is accompanied by your choice of a variety of sauces- mainly a creamy-sweet mayonnaise, curry, ketchup- in a cone like package ready to be devoured.
The fries are prepared freshly throughout the day- with potatoes skinned and fried while the customer patiently waits for its mouthwatering snack. Truly another simple but delicious snack- a personal favorite of mine. Sometimes, simplicity is beauty.
- Freelance writer