Sweet, salty or savoury: the cui­sine cov­ers it all

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 -

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.

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