Food is an important part of a country’s culture. Every country has different foods associated with it. Think British and you think fish and chips. Think Indonesia and you think nasi goreng. Think Germany and you think sausage. You get the picture. If I say the Netherlands what food springs to mind? Probably cheese. But there’s much more to taste than cheese in the land of the Dutch.
Here are five Dutch foods worth trying – and some of them you can make yourself at home.
These are small balls of meat (usually beef) in a roux sauce in breadcrumbs, which are then deep fried. You will commonly see bitterballen on cafe menus as a snack to have with your beer and they are typically served with mustard on the side.
These Dutch delights are in essence syrup waffles and probably one of the most commonly bought gift by expats to take home for loved ones (although I have it on good authority that they are now available in UK supermarkets too).
They are traditionally placed over the top of a cup containing your hot coffee (or tea) so that the biscuit softens up before you eat it. If you can wait that long to eat it – good for you.
If you have a pizzelle iron you can make stroopwafels yourself – apparently…. for the rest of us they are available in any supermarket, bakery or fresh from any specialist stroopwafel maker you may find randomly in a market or on a shopping street. You’re welcome.
Stampwhat? Stamppot is essentially mashed potatoes (the Dutch after all are lovingly known as potato eaters – aardappelvreters) with a vegetable mixed through it, commonly kale, spinach or onions, carrots (known then at hutspot or hotchpotch in English). It’s served with a rookworst – a smoked sausage.
It’s traditionally served in the winter but I am seeing more and more variants around outside of the colder months. A good stamppot is a great winter tummy filler.
This is not so much about the pancakes, as about the whole pancake eating experience. The Dutch love their pancakes and you’ll find pancake restaurants just about everywhere, known as a pannenkoekboerderij.
These eating establishments often serve only pancakes and the decor is invariably that of an old farm house interior; think dimly lit and oozing gezellig. There are artefacts from farms and farmhouses hanging from the ceilings, and dotted around. Often a gnome or two (kabouter) will also feature, or there will be a cow theme going on. These places are, of course, a big hit with children.
The pancakes themselves are usually adorned with every choice of ingredient you could imagine but a kid’s pancake will almost definitely involve hagelslag, or sprinkles. (A trip to the supermarket will show you just how seriously the Dutch take their hagelslag.) And lots of them. And that classes as dinner.
It’s an experience you should definitely have if you are in the Netherlands.
My first Christmas in the Netherlands was quite a dining experience. It consisted of a family gourmet session, and I was a gourmet virgin.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, a gourmet is, put simply, a hotplate and a mini-grill compact enough to take centre stage on the dining table. Should you need it, the verb is ‘gourmetten‘. Diners cook their own meat and vegetables at the table.
What could be more perfect: hosting a dinner party you don’t have to cook for? Worse case scenario, you are expected to chop raw vegetables such as onions and peppers and prepare a few salads and sauces and put some bread in a basket or bowl.
As a host you can spend the entire evening with your guests, instead of slaving and stressing in the kitchen. You have plenty of time to chat and catch up whilst the food is cooking. Gezellig. More importantly, if your guests go down with food poisoning the next day, they only have themselves to blame (unless you served meat passed its best of course….).
The variation on this is the cheese fondue evening. Although this is by no means a Dutch invention, it has been embraced fondly, most likely because of its gezelligheid.
Welcome to our Olympics for Kids series! The Olympics are a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about the world and explore cultures together. Today, you can find more about other recipes from various countries thanks to our participating bloggers:
5 French Recipes to Cook with Kids – Multicultural Kid Blogs A Taste of South Africa – Globe Trottin’ Kids Cooking Hoosier Style (Indiana, USA) – using resources wisely Chilean Sopaipillas – La Clase de Sra. DuFault 5 Dutch Foods You Need to Try – Expat Life with a Double Buggy My Favorite Latvian Childhood Dessert – Let the Journey Begin Puerto Rican Shortbread Cookies with Guava – Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes Brigadeiros – the piri-piri lexicon Don’t forget that you can also download our Summer Games Unit activity pack to learn more about the world and have fun during the Olympics.