Holland has national cuisine that ranges from fried snacks, hearty seasonal meals, delicious desserts, and all the strange things in between. I could have highlighted the bizarre traditional food, such as pickled herring (raw fish that you are meant to eat whole with gherkins and raw onion), tulip bulbs, and salty Dutch liquorice, but instead I’m going to include all of my personal favourites.
Two thin, soft waffle biscuits stuck together with a cinnamon caramel centre – there is nothing you won’t love about this sweet treat! Stroopwafels originated from Gouda in the early 1800’s and quickly became a Dutch staple. You can find these packaged cheaply in supermarkets, but for the best results, try and find them fresh from a bakery or street food stall. They are yummy without any help, but many stroopwaffel fans recommend putting them on top of a hot coffee or tea cup so that the sweet centre becomes gooey and warm.
This fried dumpling, typically containing veal or beef, is a popular snack to have when chilling out with some Dutch beer. Similar to a croquette, bitterballen are served hot with herbs and sometimes vegetables mixed inside, and traditionally dipped in mustard. This filling fried ball of deliciousness are a must-try!
If you like pancakes, then you’ll love poffertjes! Basically they’re a mini, fluffy pancake that are usually served as a dessert with icing sugar, butter and sometimes maple syrup. If you’re not much of a sweet tooth, some restaurants also serve a savoury version with gouda cheese. According to my friends that live in Amsterdam, a restaurant called De Vier Pilaren is one of the best spots in the city for poffertjes, but these are pretty hard to get wrong, so you can enjoy them anywhere you like!
Okay, this may not be a very traditional food, but I guarantee you’ll end snacking on this Dutch fast-food chain a lot more often than pickled herring… You can find FEBO on most street corners and can identify it easily by it’s automated system – you simply put coins in one of their vending machines and you can grab your hot food out of one of the windows – easy! You will mostly find handburgers, krokets (croquettes), kaassoufflés (basically cheese croquettes) and bitterballen in the automated windows, but there is also a counter for ordering things like frites and milkshakes.
The Dutch frites differ from the Belgian fries, in that they’re less oily, thicker cut, and traditionally served with curry sauce and raw diced onion on top. Of course, you can cater these yummy chips to your preference, and most stores will offer dozens of different sauces. For the ‘best frites in Holland’, try Manneken Pis, straight down from Centraal Station (look for the long line and big frites statue out the front).
If you haven’t tasted the creamy deliciousness of gouda cheese, then Amsterdam is the perfect place to try it. This cheese got its name from the Dutch city that it originated from in the 12th century, and is actually one of the oldest varieties of cheese that are still made today. This cow’s milk cheese has become popular internationally, so you can easily find it in varying quality and price points in a supermarket, deli, or specialised cheese store. If you’re wanting to taste the different flavours, are interested in seeing how it is made, and wanting it all to be guilt-free, then I can recommend the Dutch Countryside Bike Tour. After cycling out to the local factory and back, you can easily indulge as much as you like in the free tasting!
Incase you didn’t already know this fun fact, the Dutch actually invented gin, originally named genever, from juniper berries. In fact, this liquor was around back in the 16th century during the Eighty Years War, when British soldiers were drinking this calming alcohol to gain some “Dutch courage” (this is where that saying apparently stemmed from). The most popular way to enjoy this beverage is with tonic water, but lots of bars have more interesting concoctions for you to experiment with.