With just over 180 nationalities and a bustling 800,000 people, Amsterdam is constantly recognized as a top multicultural city. But how else can we see whether a culture is truly represented or not? That's when we turn to food. 

It's no doubt that food is an integral part of culture. Most holidays and traditions are centred towards it and when you're feeling homesick, one of the easiest remedies is probably finding a snack or food you ate when you were younger. 

So as AUC loves to brag about its ~diverse~ and excellent components, here's another test to see what kind of nationalities we've gathered. This time, we're exploring through the foods that people miss most from their homes. Most of these may not be found in abundance, or with the same quality, but even if Amsterdam has got stock on something special, I'm sure we can all agree there's nothing as good as the original. 

1. Cheese, France   

Camembert, Reblochon, Beaufort, Roquefort, Comté the list could go on and on. While the Netherlands prides itself on their aged cheeses, nothing can compare to the quality of the softer and luxurious cheeses of France.  

Out of all the unique French dishes that there are, Rayan a second year and student council member expressed that cheese was what he missed the most, and stated that it is possible to find good cheese here from other places (French, Italian, etc) but it's going to be quite pricey. But we all deserve a fancy cheese and wine night every now and then, don't we? 

2. Dried Mango, South Africa 

No real replacement to be found here. I wouldn't deny that dried mangoes from South Africa are better than what Amsterdam's got in stock. With the weather conditions here, it's hard to expect exotic fruits and snacks with the same quality. If your local appie doesn't have it on hand, your next best try may be at marqt or other biological shops

3. Sinigang, The Philippines

Whether you've travelled to Asia in the past or have lived there for some time (a common characteristic I've found of AUC kids) you may or may not have come across this dish. Sinigang, a local dish in the Philippines, is a sour pork soup/stew with tamarind. Authentic Asian dishes are probably not replicable one-one but there's no harm in attempting to make this delicious sour soup - perfect for the harsh winter weather. 

4. Brown Cheese, Norway

I first discovered brown cheese after talking to Petra, CAO of the AUC student association 16/17, who mentions that she could be found consuming it on the reg' layered on rye bread. Brunost, as the Norwegians call it, has a slight sweetness and is made from overcooking the whey until a Maillard reaction occurs and the milk sugars caramelize, thus the browning of the cheese. 

Unfortunately, brunost is unique to Norway and the other nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland). But if you get your hands on a slice, the best way to enjoy it is on a piece of bread. Go simple or with some jam and sour cream. 

5. Stuffed Vine Leaves, Egypt/Greece

The only time I've eaten stuffed vine leaves in Amsterdam is when I bought a ready-made can out of pure curiosity from the Turkish Markets on Molukkenstraat. Although it wasn't my first time trying them, I'm aware there's better and I've been told it's nothing close to what you'd get in the streets of Egypt, Greece, or Turkey. 

In my opinion, these little bundles of savoury goodness are an underrated delicacy. While it may vary slightly in filling and spice across the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean coasts, the common essence is generally lamb meat, rice, and spices, wrapped around a grape or vine leaf. If you're feeling adventurous, make them yourself.

6. Koshari, Egypt 

From the looks, you probably wouldn't think much of it, but out of all Middle Eastern or North African dishes, the Koshari is the one to impresses new-comers. You can find it in Egyptian restaurants, or served on the street. Koshari is a mix of lentils, rice, macaroni noodles, chickpeas, fried onions, and a tomato sauce that's blended in a special spice called Baharat - that's actually the big flavour winner in this dish. 

Despite it being one of Egypt's national dishes, it's not Egyptian in origin. Koshari is derived from the Hindu 'kichri', otherwise known as 'lentils and rice'. In the 1800's the Brits brought this dish over to Egypt and people clearly adored it. 

7. Moroccan Food

Here we have msemen, a flat square-shaped dough that is kneaded until it is soft and smooth. It is folded in squares and fried in the pan so that it reaches a crisp outside and a chewy interior. You can serve it plain or with butter, honey, jam. I assume it goes well with most spreads, and from the picture I am so tempted to book my flight to Morocco asap just to get a piece of these.  

Apart from the msemen, I have to give credit to the sfenj, a special Moroccan doughnut that is usually only made by the street vendors. Can be served plain, or dusted with sugar, and would pair nicely with some Moroccan mint tea. 

Honourable Mentions: baghrir, harira, and these 10 must-try Moroccan delicacies, as told by a native.

8. Greek Food

Besides the vine leaves, our fellow Greek students may be feeling a lack of the Mediterranean vibe here in the Netherlands. But sometimes finding gems in Amsterdam requires a closer look. If it wasn't for a friend in first year I would have never discovered Grekas Griekse Traiterie - highly recommended for some home-made Greek food.

Maybe the keftedes, gyros, kolokithokeftedes, or spanakopita won't compare to your nona's cooking, but you might as well give these restaurants a taste if you're missing the sunny Greek coast.

9. Freshly Baked French Bread  

If you were to ask any of the French students here, they'd probably mention that they miss just about everything when it comes to the food. Thankfully, Amsterdam is not weak when it comes to its baking game, and that includes the bread. If you're longing for some freshly baked bread or fresh Parisian pastries then give one of these a try. Nothing is ever as good as the original, I know, but even a close replica is better than nothing.  

10. Bulgarian Food

Most eastern European countries have their own version of the borek, which is a family for baked-filled pastries in phyllo dough. For the Bulgarians this egg and cheese-filled pastry is known as banitsa. You can also find it filled with various vegetables, and eaten for breakfast. 

While people love stuffing their face with all things cheese-filled (myself included) sirene cheese is a Bulgarian delicacy worthy of trying by itself. Sirene is a white brine cheese that can be either made from the milk of a cow, sheep, goat, or a combination of these. It's strong and crumbly, something along a greek feta, and can also be found as a topping in the Shopska salad, as seen above. 

11. German Food

Instagram photo by SabSelect

sabselect on Instagram

A little different than your regular take on Mac n' Cheese, Spätzle is made from egg, flour, and milk, but does not require a pasta-maker! In fact, before noodle-making machines were available, these were hand-made or shaped with a spoon. The end result resembled something like a sparrow (spatz in German).  

Craving a bowl of cheesy and carby goodness but got no pasta or macaroni in your pantry? Then you can turn to making some Spätzle Mac n' Cheese.

Simple yet tasty comfort food is what I'm getting from some of these German Dishes. Maultaschen is another form of noodle or pasta dough that's made to be filled with meat, various vegetables and spices. The variation largely depends on family tradition. They're usually rectangular and can be served as an appetizer or main dish. Some even speculated that it was a copy cat of the Italian ravioli and tortellini pastas. But it's not like that can stop us from eating it

12. German Sourdough Bread

Who can blame the Germans for missing their bread? It's coarse, rustic, unrefined, and is usually made of whole grains like rye, spelt, millet and wheat in their purest form to maintain the density. I love a good ciabatta or focaccia just as much as any bread-loving person, but the German sourdough is quite difficult to replicate in other countries. If you're not pleased with the availability here, go forth and make your own

13. Bryndza 

As you may have realized, Bryndza is another cheese originating from Poland and Slovakia but can also be found in other parts of southeastern Europe. The cheese is made from sheep's milk and is quite salty and crumbly in texture. It is said that producers add a saline solution for a more salty flavour and this can make a more soft and spreadable cheese. Bryndzové Halušky, a national Slovakian Dish uses Byrndza as the main ingredient. 

14. Roti Prata  

You can find all of the ingredients except the main component to make this Roti Prata here in Amsterdam. It's a special Indian flat bread that gets fried in ghee, and as Micky, a third year student at AUC expresses, "it's heaven." He also mentions that you can eat it with Mutton curry and as breakfast food.

"The place I always went to in Singapore was called Tanglin Halt Food court and I would have my prata with some Teh-C. Twas just epic!" - Micky 

15. Assam Tea 

More than once have current AUC students asked where one could find such a gem in Amsterdam. There are supposedly just three places, but probably incomparable to the original. Third year student Nimisha explains it as red, strong, and being better than coffee. She also mentions that you can boil it with milk, honey, cardamom and ginger, which turns it into a sweet treat.

"The tea in itself is special. I like to call it monsoon tea. Assam is has a super unique, humid, and sometimes cold, incredibly wet climate. The monsoon, in sum, is why the tea is supposedly so unique and warming. It is also a beautiful shade of red. Sigh...as you can tell I love this tea" - Nimisha

16. English Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar is known to originate from Somerset since the 12th century and was named after the caves in Cheddar town that were used for storage of the cheese. These provided an optimal environment for the maturation of the cheese. The cheese undergoes a unique process called Cheddaring, which turns slabs of curd and piles them in such a way to help drain the whey. This helps to create a hard cheese with a firm body. 

Although, the Brits have so much more that they should be given credit for. We know the classics such as tea and crumpets, or their beloved Marks and Spencers, but why not check out what other special English cheeses our northerly neighbour makes. Fancy a Stinking Bishop anyone?

17. Grechka 

You may actually know this as Buckwheat, a grain that's unrelated to wheat and actually gluten-free. But that shouldn't be your sole reason for consuming it, but more for its nutritious value and nutty-like taste. This Russian take on cooking buckwheat is incredibly versatile and can go sweet or savoury. Enjoy it with heated milk and sugar, or chopped greens like in the picture above.

Buckwheat is sold in almost all stores in Amsterdam, so why is the Russian Grechka any different? The Russian buckwheat kernels are brown and roasted, while the majority found outside the boarders are more yellowy/green, not roasted, and get a bit mushy after cooking. The Russian buckwheat has a more unique taste and is both fluffy and crunchier in texture since the grains are actually visible.

18. Japanese Food 

Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian? Amsterdam's got it all. Japanese, not so much. Or at least it's one that strictly excludes the student budget. In my time here, I haven't really come across a strong market for Japanese food. Sure, sushi is available in most central areas of Amsterdam but I find that to get a hold of good-quality sushi you need to be willing to spend a lotta dough. 

Things like sukiyaki, chutoro tuna, katsudon, kaiseki ryori (most of these probably aren't ringing a bell for you) will most likely not be common finds within the Dutch capital. Although if Amsterdam isn't hitting the jackpot with Japanese cuisine, maybe other cities in the Netherlands do. Of course, you can always go for the high-grade fish by booking a dinner at Project Omakase. If you're a fish lover, then your time at AUC will be worth it if you've managed to get in on Omakase at least once. It's the high-quality experience your palette has been waiting for - trust me. 

While it may be hard to face the facts that Amsterdam can't serve every single food imaginable, at least you can think of certain qualities or things that make your home place unique - whether it's the cheese, the breads, or the entire cuisine. If you had it accessible year-round, you might not consider it as special, and nothing feels better than being welcomed home with the familiar sights, tastes, and aromas of your food.