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Dutch food and eating habits


As indicated in the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh (the aardappeleters, meaning "potato eaters"), the main ingredient in old-fashioned Dutch dinners is potatoes, usually accompanied by meat and boiled vegetables. The Dutch traditionally don't use very sharp spices and are very fond of pouring gravy onto everything. The Dutch have however always been internationally orientated and nowadays you can expect to find meals varying from Italy to the Orient and from China to Afrika on Dutch dinnertables, especially amongst younger people. The consumption of dairy produkts is extremely high, which, according to some scientists, accounts for the high average height of Dutch men and women.

The Dutch generally eat three meals a day. Dinner (around 6 pm) is the main meal for most people, but some rural families and older people retain the tradition of eating the main mean at midday. For them, the evening meal is light and often consists of bread, cold cuts, cheese and salad. Washing hands before eating, being on time to the table, and starting to eat at the same moment is important. It is impolite to begin eating before others. A parent or host often indicates when to eat, usually by saying 'eet smakelijk' (pronounces ATE smahk-A-lick), which literally means 'Eat deliciously' but is used in the same as Bon Appétit (enjoy the meal.) It is proper to keep hands above the table (rather than in the lap) but not to rest elbows on the table. The Dutch use the continental style of eating, with the fork on the left and the knife remaining on the right. Forks are not used to eat dessert; small spoons are provided. One does not leave the table until all have finished eating.

Below is listed some typical Dutch food which you should certainly experience during a visit to Holland. Most of the listed food is available at any supermarket.
Click on the 'camera' to find a picture and/or recipe.

Vla: a thick sweet milk pudding which is similar to English custard, made mainly from milk and offered in a variety of tastes ranging from vanilla and chocolate to strawberry. If you get the chance, you must try hopjes-vla and bitterkoekjes-vla which have a very typical and also unexplainable tastes.
  Karnemelk: literally 'churned milk' (buttermilk). It has a thin substance and is rather sour. It is supposed to be quite healthy, but admittedly you must acquire a taste for it.
Poffertjes: these resemble very small pancakes and are traditionally served warm with lots of powdered sugar sprinkled on top. You can make them at home if you have a special pan, but it might be easier to go to a poffertjeskraam (kraam is literally a market stall, but also indicates larger eating-houses) and get them ready made.
Hagelslag: traditionally lots of chocolate-snippers which the Dutch sprinkle on their bread. Nowadays it comes in quite a number of (chocolate-) varieties.
Muisjes: literally meaning 'mice', it falls in the same category as hagelslag and is also used as bread-spread. Of course the ingredients do not consist of an actual mouse, although the blue & white muisjes do resemble very small mice crawling around on your slice of bread. Traditionally the blue & white muisjes are served on beschuit (rusk) to celebrate the birth of a child. Although now available in different varieties (like gestampte muisjes or 'crushed mice') it is essentially made from anise with a sugar coating.
Drop: a sweet (liquorice) that comes in a very large number of different forms and tastes, from salt and hard to soft and sweet. It is very popular among the entire Dutch population and is claimed to have something of an addictive-effect if eaten regularly in very large quantities.
Stamppot: a very down-to-earth meal consisting of mashed potatoes with varying ingredients like carrot (wortel stamppot or hutspot), kale (boerenkool stampot) or endive (andijvie stamppot) and usually served with rookworst, a delicious, smoked, juicy, mild sausage.
Pea Soup: Another famous Dutch delight. Dutch pea soup is a meal in itself and is full of fresh winter vegetables and chunks of bacon and sausage. You should be able to stand a spoon upright in a good pea soup.
Patat: patat or 'french fries' may not be an exclusively Dutch food, but the thickness of the french fry itself and the fact that it is very often eaten with mayonaise ('patat met('patat with') is french fries with mayonaise) does make some foreigners stare. Even more extreme is a 'patatje oorlog' - literally meaning "french fries war" - indicating french fries with mayonaise and saté-sauce. ‘patat speciaal’ is french fries, mayonnaise, ketchup and raw onions. Patat in all its varieties can be obtained in any snackbar.

An iteresting way to get takeaway in Holland is from the wall. There are snack bars that have rows of little windows where you slot in a coin and choose what snack you would like.
Kroket and frikandel: both are fried, roll-formed snacks containing (some kind of) meat. Available at any snackbar and not advisable for vegetarians.
Haring: a typical Dutch delicacy is eating a raw herring (fish) with raw onions. You pick the fish up by the tail and let it slide into your mouth gradually. Of course the head is removed and the fish has been cleaned. The first catch of the season is called Hollandse nieuwe ('Dutch new') and is considered a special treat.
Stroopwafel: is a unique type of cookie that has been around for centuries. are made with two thin wafle-type wafers that have a very special caramel filling. The waffle is cooked at a very high temperature on a waffle iron then sliced in half. The syrup then spread on and the two halves come together again.
Vlaai: this a pastry or a sweet pie typical of the southern regions of the Netherlands (Limburg and Brabant) but available all through the country. It comes in many different varieties and usually contains some kind of fruit filling.


Some great links to Recipes




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