Deliciously Dutch

By Meg Nicholls

Holland is well-known for windmills, clogs, tulips and many other stereotypes, yet I was most impressed by its food during a recent trip to Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Granted, none of the meals I ate were particularly healthy, but all tourists deserve a treat, and when in Rome…

Kaas; Starting my list with cheese seems only right, with the Netherlands being the largest exporter of this food in the world! In Amsterdam there are endless shops, tasting tours, markets and even a museum dedicated to the stuff. Many of the varieties of cheeses produced in Holland are protected by EU laws. You shouldn’t leave the country without trying a cube of Old Amsterdam, a Gouda cheese aged for about 8 months, with a distinct rich and smooth flavour.

Pannenkoeken; Dutch pancakes are absolutely delicious, and I found that they can be a very versatile meal. The batter is made similarly to French crêpes, although the pancakes are thicker and much more filling, so are often eaten for dinner. Savoury pancakes can be topped with cheese, bacon, pesto or vegetables and the filling is baked into the pancake, rather than placed on top, like fluffier American pancakes.  Sweet toppings are just as popular, and I discovered that a well-loved syrup is often an accompaniment. Similar to maple syrup, the Dutch counterpart is stickier, tastes more like molasses than sugar and is definitely worth sampling on your next pancake!

Patat; Those who love a good portion of chips will not be disappointed by the large choice on offer in Amsterdam. The Dutch version of French fries was originally made in Belgium and the potatoes are fried twice, which results in a fluffy center coated in a crunchy exterior. There are hundreds of types of sauces to try with your paper cone of fries as you continue sight-seeing. Locals enjoy them topped  with a peanut sauce, mayonnaise and raw onions, which I opted against, but have heard mainly positive things about the unusual combination, known as ‘patatje oorlog’.

Poffertjes; Another type of pancake, these sweet treats are tiny little bites of warm joy! I first saw them at Christmas market stalls in England, since it’s common for these mini pancakes to be made fresh and eaten outside during winter months. The light balls of dough are typically served with a chunk of butter and dusted with icing sugar. The yeast mixture is poured into small holes of a large metal sheet, before being quickly turned to cook on each side. Grab a fork, order a dozen of them and I’m sure you’ll be hesitant to share with anyone!

Stroopwafel; Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of this famous syrup waffle from the Netherlands. The disks are baked on a griddle, sliced   through the centre and filled with a sticky, sweet mixture to hold each half together.  Best eaten warm, the waffles are made all over the country and can be bought at any food market, but also in packets at supermarkets, perfect for souvenirs. I was lucky enough to find a shop  which specialised in the delicacy and sold many creative varieties, including waffles topped with melted chocolate, fudge, honeycomb, sweets and crumbled biscuit. I learnt that the waffle is designed to    be placed on the cup of a hot drink, so that the steam softens the syrup and it’s then ideal for dunking.

If you ever find yourself in Holland with a sugar craving or time for a quick snack, you know what to do!

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