Dutch cuisine is ordinary and uninspiring. With boring main dishes like rookworst, stampot, and snert, it is no wonder that the Dutch prefer to fill up on snacks. During our month in North Holland, we also discovered that it was much tastier to skip the main courses and just snack like Dutchies.
One famous Dutch food that we avoided was pickled herring. The last time we were in the Netherlands, we tried herring and found the smelly raw fish to be slimy and repulsive. This trip, we opted instead for its enticing deep-fried cousin, a battered white fish called kibbeling.
The most common snack in the Netherlands is the french-fried potato. Cut thick in the Belgian style, they are double deep fried, and served in a paper cone with your choice of sauces. Mayonnaise and peanut sauce are the most common toppings. Asking for ketchup would only peg you as an American tourist.
The juiciest and most “wholesome” deep-fried snacks are made to order at snack bars throughout the Netherlands. If you are famished and can’t wait, you can also buy fried snacks of questionable freshness out of coin-operated vending slots.
After eating all these snacks Immersed in boiling fat, we were dying for a salad. The closest thing we could find was a multi-layered invention called a kapsalon. It turns out that the nutritious greens are just a thin veil covering an unhealthy bed of fries, shawarma meat, and melted cheese.
By now, we were thirsty for a couple of cold Dutch beers. Like true snack addicts, we paired our beers with an order of bitterballen. This ultimate beer snack consists of deep-fried soft meaty balls with a crunchy breadcrumb coating, and served with a side of spicy mustard.
When we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, our daughters Claire and Cassie came to visit us. With their enthusiasm and appetites, they joined us like battlefield reinforcements in our snacking campaign.
Fortuitously, the girls arrived just in time for dessert. The Dutch have a strong lineup of sweet snacks. Probably the most well-known and widespread is Dutch apple pie. Dutchies will travel across the province for a good cup of coffee and a nice piece of apple pie smothered in whipped cream.
Whipped cream is also the central ingredient in another dessert called tompouce. This rectangular confection consists of two layers of puff pastry, smooth pink icing, and sweet yellow cream filing. Biting down on a tompouce is delicious, but because the soft cream filling always squeezes out, it is notoriously messy to eat.
If two sweet snacks were not enough, we made a final stop for poffertjes, another delightful Dutch dessert. These fluffy little pancakes were made before our eyes, and served with a lump of butter and smothered in powdered sugar.
Rolling through the Netherlands our diet has included a surplus of fried and sugary foods. With no appetite remaining for rookworst, stampot or snert, we have avoided these bland and lifeless options and have survived instead by snacking like Dutchies.
Blogger’s Note: Tomorrow, we move on for the next month to the small town of Moordrecht (near Gouda) in the province of South Holland. Tomorrow is also my warm-hearted and high-spirited mother’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!
Feature Photo: Joe eating a fricken frikandel