Getting to Know Dutch Food: An Introduction To Some Essential Dishes

When moving to a new country, one of the first points on most people’s to-do list is trying national food specialties. Although the Dutch are not known for their cuisine, there are a few must-tries when you live in the Netherlands. Generally speaking, Dutch food is very hearty and not the healthiest. Many items are based on meat, though nowadays you can find vegetarian and even vegan alternatives to most Dutch classics. This article will introduce some of the best Dutch food and hopefully it’ll inspire you to go out and explore!

1. Poffertjes

Poffertjes are delicious small pancakes. Traditionally they are served covered with powdered sugar and butter. During wintertime, there are loads of market stands selling this treat. If you don't want to wait until winter, you can always buy a pack in the supermarket and heat them up. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, you can try making them yourselves. I personally love topping poffertjes with Hagelslag, another Dutch delicacy. Poffertjes were created by Dutch monks during the French revolution. Because of a shortage of wheat flour, the monks experimented with the recipe they used to create communion bread. They invented ‘little friars’, which were soon dubbed poffertjes, a name deriving from the noise of air (‘poff’) escaping the pancakes when they are cooked. 

2. Stamppot

When I asked my Dutch friends, which food was the most classically Dutch, most of them immediately answered 'stamppot'. The dish consists of potatoes mashed with different kinds of vegetables like spinach, carrots, or onions. Traditionally it is served with smoked sausage (‘rookworst’). If you are a vegetarian, however, you can just leave it out. Stamppot is usually served for dinner during the winter months. This hearty food can be traced back to the 15th century. Back then the Dutch would cook everything in one pot and only had few ingredients available, thus the creation of the stamppot was virtually inevitable. On October 3rd, the inhabitants of the city of Leiden, eat stamppot to celebrate their liberation from the Spanish.

3. Bamischijf

The Dutch colonized many different countries; therefore, it is only natural, that you will find foods that bear witness to this influence. Bamischijf is a snack, inspired by Chino-Indonesian cuisine. The Dutch East Indies, today's Indonesia, were a Dutch colony until 1949. Bamischijf consists of Bami (Indonesian noodles and vegetables) formed into a schijf (Dutch for 'slice'), coated in breadcrumbs, and fried. If you are feeling snacky you can eat this delicious treat in most snack bars.

4. Appeltaart

Appeltaart is a Dutch classic, and its creation can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It was already included in the first Dutch-language cookbook 'A Notable Little Cookery Book', written in circa 1510. Appeltaart is similar to an apple pie. The apples are sliced and covered with pastry. It is usually served with whipped cream. You can buy appeltaart at most cafes. The name appeltaart derives from the Dutch word ‘appel’ meaning apple, and ‘taart’ meaning ‘cake’.

5. Hollandse Nieuwe

If you like eating fish, you must try Hollandse Nieuwe. The snack consists of raw herring served with gherkins and chopped onions. The Dutch eat it in a very special way. They lift the fish up by its tail and then bite upwards. The dish exists in variations, you can eat it on a sandwich, known as a 'Broodje Haring'. You will find this food on market stands. 

The Dutch have many more amazing foods, like stroopwafels, vla, and bitterballen, to offer. So what are you waiting for? Go out and give Dutch food a try!