Sweet, salty or savoury: the cuisine covers it all
THE Dutch may not boast a cuisine as extensive as the Italians, but they do have a wide range of sweet treats, some of which are deeply embedded in Dutch culture.
They also have a tradition when it comes to savoury snacking. And, to survive the cold winter days, the Dutch have some soups and creative ways of turning their favourite potatoes into sturdy and scrumptious stews.
First, the sweet snacks. Poffertjes are tiny pancakes that are enjoyed as a main course (children are often excited at the prospect of poffertjes), or as party snacks. Find poffertjes in pancake restaurants, and eat them with powdery sugar and butter.
Then, to accompany your tea or coffee, and occasionally served on top of it so that it softens and melts, is the stroopwafel (two thin waffles glued together with syrup).
To celebrate the birth of a child, it is customary to eat beschuit met muisjes, which are crisp bakes with blue, pink or white aniseed comfits. The Dutch use these as regular bread topping too, but muisjes (mice) are not as popular as hagelslag: chocolate sprinkles that come in all types of chocolate.
For fans of savoury snacks, the Hollandse nieuwe haring (herring) is a popular snack to eat with chopped onion while browsing markets. Eat it while standing up, tipping the head back and lowering the herring into the mouth as a whole fish, held by the tail. For those who shudder at the thought of doing so, herring is served in bite- size chunks, especially when proffered at parties.
While strolling markets, also try the kroket (croquette; a deepfried rectangular tube of beef ragout in batter) and a patatje met (potato chips with mayonnaise) or a patatje oorlog (“war” chips served with mayonnaise, satay sauce and chopped onions).
Dutch cuisine includes healthy and substantial food too. The most famous soup is erwtensoep or snert, a thick split pea soup with bits of sausage. This soup gets most Dutch people through the coldest winter months, and is also sold directly from vendors on the ice, to warm half-frozen skaters.
UNIQUE REPRESENTATION: No visit to the Holland is complete without taking in Madurodam on the outskirts of The Hague.
SWEET TREATS: Traditional dutch Appeltaart (apple tart), above, and poffertjes (little pancakes), below.