During our expatriation in Rotterdam, we had the opportunity to taste many culinary specialties from the Netherlands.
First of all, you should know this: “All you need to cook in the Netherlands is a deep fryer and a microwave. Or a cell phone.“-Louis Broekhuijsen (a Dutchman met at a couchsurfing meeting in Rotterdam.)
Culinary Specialties of the Netherlands
The Netherlands is the biggest cheese exporter in the world. For public health, it is now forbidden to produce raw milk cheese, except some farmers in the Gouda area who have derogations.
The three best-known cheeses in the Netherlands are Gouda, Edam and Maasdam.
The big differences between Gouda and Edam are that the first is produced in the south towards Rotterdam, the other is produced in the north towards Amsterdam. One was sold in the Gouda market, the other at the Edam market, The Gouda is surrounded by a thin, yellow skin while the Edam is covered with a red or black wax. The Maasdam is recognized by its holes (and it is not a gruyere) 🙂
Herring is a world-famous gastronomic specialty. The young herring, caught between the middle of May and the end of June, is not entitled to the name “Herring” and is sold under a different title (it has many names, we will come back to this later). The Dutch eat it raw with bits of raw onions and salt, but the real enthusiasts will eat it without anything.
You can either eat it in a sandwich between two pieces of bread, or in a singular way: your head in the air, your mouth wide open, the herring at your fingertips by the tail, the head of the fish down towards your mouth. Demonstration!
To get back to the names, the raw herring is also called:
- Hollandse Nieuwe (New Dutchman)
- Nieuwe Haring, meaning “the new herring”
- Maatjesharing, a deformation of Maagdenharing (virgin herring) since females do not have eggs yet
- And the young herrings which do not have the appellation are sold under the name of Maatje.
The herring also has its own festival on May 31st, the day of the beginning of the season.
Typical Dutch snacks
Fried food and Dutch… All their snacks are fried:
- Kroketten, which are fried stew and mashed potatoes dumplings.
- Bitterballens are fried stew dumplings served with mustard. Significantly, it is the same as the Kroketten. In any case, I have not seen a big difference between the two, knowing that everyone has a different recipe for bitterballens. They really vary from one establishment to another, but still remain really good.
- Frikadellen is a kind of fried sausage.
That is not the only things they fry, they also fry rice, chicken (like everyone else), vegetable purée, cheese, etc. Anything that can be fried, they fry it and eat it with fries! Yes, it’s cliché, but it’s the north, here potato fries are sacred, and we love it.
The Dutch pancakes
The Dutch don’t make the pancakes you are used to having. Theirs are really big and less thick, kind of like crepes. They serve it with cheese and ham, in a calzone. It’s delicious!
Finally, time for sweets. In the Netherlands, the locals love spongy cakes and a lot of weird dessert. As we are not big fans of sugar and sweet things, we did not taste many desserts. We enjoyed eating poffertjes. These are kind of mini-pancakes, slightly blown, which you eat warm with a little ice sugar on top.