Dutch ‘cuisine’ is not popular abroad as dishes tend to be simple and indistinct to many other European countries. Common foods in the Netherlands are cheese, potatoes, sausage, beef, fish, bread, chocolate and dairy products. Coffee is a favorite beverage as are fruit juices, milk and beer.
DUTCH BREAKFAST (‘ONTBIJT’)
The Dutch often start their day with a light breakfast such as bread (‘brood’) or a roll (‘broodjes’) topped with butter (‘boter’), jam (‘fruitbeleg’) or chocolate spread. Yoghurt with fresh fruit is also common. Children generally eat cereal (‘graan’) or buttered bread topped with chocolate sprinkles (‘hagelslag‘). On the weekend, breakfast can be more substantial with eggs, cheese, breakfast meats and pastries.
Other items popular with children for either breakfast or lunch include:
- Pannenkoeken – A cross between a crepe and a pancake, eaten with all kinds of fillings and toppings: syrup, fruits, cheese, powdered sugar.
- Wafels – Thick waffles can be plain, sugar-coated or partially covered with chocolate icing. As a dessert, they are often topped with whip cream (‘slagroom’) or in summer with fresh strawberries (‘aardbei’).
A cheese sandwich (‘broodjes‘) is a very common lunch item in the Netherlands, accompanied by a glass of milk. If workers venture out for lunch, they may opt for deep fried fish (‘kibbeling‘), a cone of french fries (‘patat‘) topped with a mayonnaise-like dressing (‘fritessaus‘), salted herring (‘Hollandse Nieuwe haring’) or a salad (‘sla‘) with sliced meats. ‘Kwark’ is a popular dairy product tasting similar to cottage cheese but with a smooth texture similar to yogurt.
DUTCH SUPPER (‘AVONDMAAL’)/DINNER (‘DINER’)
In Holland, supper time is a firm 6:00 pm; it is rare for parents not to be home from work and children not to be home from school by that time so they can eat together. Some common dishes the Dutch eat for dinner include:
- Stamppot consists of mashed potatoes with a sausage on top. A second vegetable is generally mixed in with the potatoes such as carrots (‘wortel stamppot‘), spinach (‘spinaziestamppot‘), beets (‘bietenstamppot‘), kale (‘stamppot boerenkool‘), endive (‘andijviestamppot‘) or red cabbage (‘stamppot rodekool‘).
- Erwtensoep is a thick pea soup with cubes of ham, bacon or sausage.
- Frikandel and Krokets are tube-shaped snacks containing a mix of meats. Krokets are breaded, Frikhandel are not.
- Bitterbalen are deep-fried breaded balls filled with a mix of meat in a croquette sauce.
The Netherlands is one of the largest cheese (‘kaas’) producing countries and Dutch people have one of the highest per capita consumption of cheese in the world. The name given to a type of cheese was typically based on the city or region where it first originated; some well-known cheeses include Gouda, Edam, Leyden and Limburger cheese. Neighborhood shopping centers almost always have at least one cheese shop (‘boerenkaaswinkel’ or ‘kaasspecialist’).
Cheese can be purchased in rounds, chunks or in slices. The taste varies based on the length of time cured; young cheese is milder while old cheese is stronger in taste.
Expats living in Holland who like sweets will have no problem finding a wide range of baked goods and candy in their local supermarket. Popular items include:
- Stroopwafels – A soft cookie made of 2 thin wafers bonded with a caramel syrup. Best eaten warm.
- Spekkoek – A layer cake with thin layers of butter sponge cake separated by layers of filling made from Indonesian spices and sugar.
- Poffertjes – Small round flaky pastries filled with whipped cream, served warm with powdered sugar on top.
- Vla – A pudding offered in a wide variety of flavours such as raspberry (‘framboos’), caramel, banana and apple-cinnamon (‘appel-kaneel’). It is similar in taste and consistency to English custard.
- Vlaai – A flat pie with fruit or cream filling. A popular variety is topped with a lattice crust.
- Oliebollen – A ball of deep fried dough (sometimes with raisins) eaten warm and topped with powdered sugar. It is a popular treat during the holiday period from early November through the New Year.
Chocolate is very popular with the Dutch, both domestic and imported brands. More unique candies in Holland are:
- Drop – A very strong tasting licorice candy that comes in a variety of flavours.
- Hopjes – A coffee and caramel-flavored hard candy that was first produced in The Hague under the brand Haagsche Hopjes.
- Pepermunt – Peppermints were first produced by the Dutch company ‘Fortuin’ in 1842. In 1892 the company celebrated its 50th anniversary by introducing a coin-like peppermint embossed with the likeness of the young Queen Wilhelmina, who was 12 years old at the time. The company today is the largest peppermint producer in the Netherlands. Its ‘Wilhelmina’ brand peppermints are distributed around the world.