16 Jun Try a Dutch Food day!
Ever wanted to eat like a real Dutchie? The Dutch have many traditional dishes and regularly display some strange food habits. Here is an overview of some of the most important Dutch foods per time of day.
Breakfast (between 7 and 8 a.m.)
Always wondered why the Dutch children seem so happy? Wonder no more. The Dutch (including the adults) generally start their day with chocolate sprinkles called ‘hagelslag’ on top of a slice of bread. A thin layer of butter acts as glue for the sprinkles. If the Dutch feel the need to be exorbitant, they use peanut butter to stick the ‘hagelslag’ to their bread.
A more traditional breakfast is made of old bread soaked in a mixture of eggs and milk. This soaked bread is subsequently baked in a frying pan. These ‘wentelteefjes’ or ‘verloren brood’ used to be a method to make dry old bread more edible, but are now considered a treat. They are usually eaten with cinnamon, sugar and a knob of butter.
Coffee break (around 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.)
The Dutch drink coffee or tea, at least twice a day. ‘Koffie verkeerd’ is the Dutch version of a Café au lait or Caffè latte, and literally translates to ‘wrong coffee’ for the excess of milk that is used to make one. It is usually served with a sweet little cookie. The Dutch ‘appeltaart’ tastes best if you bake it yourself and is a tradition on any birthday party. According to an old saying, eating this Dutch treat every day will keep the doctor away (there is even a song about this). Actually the saying is just about the apples…
Another good combination with a cup of coffee is a ‘stroopwafel’ or a ‘speculaasje’. The former is delicious chewy cookie with a layer of syrup between two thin waffles. The latter is a crispy, crunchy, spicy cookie that is especially popular around Sinterklaas. There are several products based on the same combination of spices called ‘speculoos’, e.g.: ‘kruidnoten’, ‘speculaasbrokken’, and ‘gevuld speculaas’.
Lunch (between 12 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
Originally, Dutch farming families all had big, warm meals for lunch. However, ever since more people got desk jobs or were working and studying farther away from home, it became more practical to carry your lunch with you.
Nowadays it is normal for Dutch people to eat a couple of homemade sandwiches around noon. Again ‘hagelslag’, peanut butter and cheese are favourite toppings, but many have switched towards more exotic spreads like hummus or baba ganoush. For drinks they prefer coffee, tap water or tea (without milk!).
Dinner (between 6 and 7 p.m.)
The Dutch tend to eat quite early, maybe this is because of their light lunch, but it might also have something to do with the traditional farmers’ timing for milking their cows. This needs to be done every 12 hours and most farmers (today still) do this around half past 7.
Dutch dinners provide you with a sturdy base for manual labour as every ‘stamppot’ consists mostly of hearty, wintery veggies such as potatoes, carrots and onions for your average ‘hutspot’. Every type of ‘stamppot’ is usually accompanied by a traditional smoked sausage called ‘rookworst’.
‘Saté’ is a dish that the Dutch have left over from colonial times. It’s seasoned chicken or pork meat served with a thick peanut sauce. This sauce is also popular as a topping on a ‘patatje’, better known as chips or ‘French’ fries.
Borrel (usually from 10 p.m. but on Friday this can start at 5 p.m.)
Drinks after work or with some friends at night are called a ‘borrel’. This word can also be conjugated to the verb ‘borrelen’, often used when people are communicating that they are at a ‘borrel’: “Ik ben aan het borrelen!”. With those drinks, the Dutch usually eat some snacks called ‘borrelhapjes’. The most common warm snacks are ‘bitterballen’, savory deep-fried snacks of which no-one wants to know what they contain. They are a smaller version of a ‘kroket’ and they are typically served with mustard. Watch out for the steamy ragout as you bite through the crust! Other warm snacks are the mini spring rolls: ‘loempiaatjes’, served with a sweet chili sauce, or Dutch cheeses and sausages. Every bar and tasting room has at least some bites of diced cheese to enjoy with your ‘IJ-biertje’ or other locally brewed beer.
Have fun trying some of these foods and don’t forget to share your experiences in the comments below! For restaurants where you can get your share of Dutch food, I refer you to this site.