Two of my favourite things to talk about are scuba diving and food. Visiting a new country not only stimulates your eyes and ears with the strange new sights, sounds and culture, but it also challenges your palette when you get to indulge in their exotic food. For some people it can be without question a sensory overload. For me, it was like being a kid all over again. I love trying new cuisine and getting inspired with new recipes. By eating all this new food while in the Netherlands, I got to put my taste buds to the test and re-decide what I liked and what I didn’t like.
On our first day in the Netherlands, we borrowed Joey’s aunt and uncle’s bikes and biked to a local grocery store. What a different world! The first big thing I noticed was size. Europe seemed to have adopted the motto less is more. The local grocery store was about a quarter the size of your typical Canadian Superstore or Sobey’s. A large Dutch soda beverage is about the size of a medium in the America’s. Portion sizes for meals were designed with the eat to live, not live to eat mentality in mind. The second thing I noticed, was that the foods were not pumped full of preservatives. Milk that only stays good for a week, eggs and cheese that are not kept in the refrigerator. It was mind boggling! For a week I got to indulge in an assortment of favourite snacks of a typical Netherlander. One thing I have learned from this, is that the Dutch love their sweet and deep fried foods.
I had tried imported stroopwafels from the international section of the grocery store back when Joey and I started dating, and he always told me they were nothing like the real thing fresh from the market waffle press. I didn’t believe him until I actually tried one. I wasn’t planning on having stroopwafels at breakfast, lunch and supper my first 24 hours in the Netherlands, but somehow it happened anyway. We didn’t have breakfast the morning we headed to the market. Joey was hell bent getting us extra large stroopwafels. I kid you not when I got mine, it was as big as my face.
On top to the huge stroopwafels, Joey couldn’t resist getting a bag of “snippers” for later. “Snippers” basically means you get a bag filled with all the stroopwafels pieces that didn’t make it into someone’s hungry belly, be it because they broke, leaked, didn’t get pressed properly… I’d be lying if I told you we didn’t eat the “snippers” for lunch. Running on pure sugar and syrupy goodness we arrived home for supper and Joey’s aunt proudly pulled out stroopwafel ice cream she had gotten for dessert that night. By the end of the day Joey and I were practically diabetics and it took a few days for our bodies to shake off the sugar high. If you’re going to try stroopwafels enjoy them in moderation, don’t do what I did, they really are a sticky delicious treat.
2. Kroketten and Bitterballen:
Available at snack bars all over the Netherlands, Kroket and Bitterbal were invented by the Dutch as a way to get rid of beef, chicken and fish leftovers. Stewed into a thickened ragout, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried, Kroketten and Bitterballen are typically served as a delicious appetizer with a green sprig of parsley. A popular post bar snack for many Dutch party goers, the mouth watering smell of deep fried Kroketten and Bitterballen is enough to stir anyone’s appetite.
So in the words of my favourite Dutch parents: “Eet Smakelijk!”
3. The Febo:
This drop by restaurant really gives fast food a whole new meaning. Joey and I had lunch here on one of our day’s in downtown Amsterdam. The front end of this store is a wall full of little glass doors. The back end of this store is open into a kitchen, where cooks prepare the food and slide it behind these glass doors. To get your food, like a vending machine you place the indicated amount into a coin drop and the door releases giving you access to the snack within. Digital clocks can be seen beside every door counting down from 2 minutes. Once the clock runs out the food is discarded and replaced with a new fresh snack. It’s an exceedingly clever way to ensure food stays fresh for customers.
Dutch pancakes aren’t your typical North American pancake. For those of you who have never tried them, they are similar to what we call a crepe. Pannenkoeken come in savory or sweet choices, and unlike in North America, they are usually eaten for supper. Unfortunately having so much to do and such little time to do it, we ended up having our pancakes non traditionally, for lunch at a restaurant in downtown Amsterdam: The Pancake Bakery. While not the the best pannenkoeken in all of the Netherlands, after hours of walking they certainly tasted delicious.
Traditionally eaten during festive events such as carnivals and on New Years Eve, it would be worth travelling all the way to Holland just to taste this treat. Oliebollen are essentially deep fried dough balls, in which the batter can be plain or sprinkled with raisins. Looking for an amazing party treat that will have your guests talking for months to come? Bring Holland to your house by trying this homemade oliebollen recipe. It is important to note: If you’re someone with poor self control, I would recommend staying away from these party snacks because they are highly addictive.
For anyone with the desire to sample a different style of food, but at the same time not wanting to be overly daring, the Netherlands is the perfect destination to let your taste buds run wild. While the Dutch cuisine may not include fried scorpion or boiled snake eggs, the food is one-of-a-kind and absolutely delicious.
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