Sure, you’re familiar with Amsterdam’s coffeeshops, infamous Red Light District, and overall laid-back vibe. Heck, you probably even cried your eyes out while reading The Fault in Our Stars. But I doubt you’ve ever given much thought as to what the Dutch eat and drink.
When I set off for my first trip across the pond to visit the Netherlands, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect food-wise. Well, it turns out, the Dutch philosophy of “anything goes” applies to food as well. From frites to frikandel, here’s how to eat your way through a day in the Netherlands. Spoiler: You’re in for a life-changing experience.
Breakfast: Starting Off Sweet
Pancakes and omelettes, who? Breakfast in the Netherlands means chocolate sprinkles (and lots of ’em!). The sprinkles, called hagel slaag, are part of a classic Dutch breakfast that consists of bread spread with a generous amount of butter, then topped with the chocolate delicacy. Add an orange (perfect for what is considered Orange Country), and you’ve got a great breakfast to jumpstart a day of sightseeing.
Lunch: A Million Cafés to Choose From
Anywhere you go in the Netherlands, there is always a terrace, café, or bar at the ready where you can sit and enjoy a drink and a traditional Dutch meal, such as schnitzel, a breaded and fried meat cutlet.
One thing you’ll notice about dining out in the Netherlands is that you and your pals will be able to spend time together and enjoy the amazing food for as long as you wish – a far cry from the fast-paced American restaurant dining experience.
Snacks: Street Food Forever
Most of the time, the sun will be shining and the breeze will be blowing just enough aka the perfect weather to enjoy a drink or two (or three) and a snack, such as a frikandel, a hot dog type sausage ubiquitous in the Netherlands.
Another popular street food in the Netherlands are frites, otherwise known as fries. However, these aren’t your typical fast food-style fries. Served with creamy mayonnaise or peanut sauce, the fries come in cones with tiny fry forks that allow you to stab a fry and dunk it in sauce, making frites a satisfying handheld snack.
Dinner: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
While nights in Amsterdam can be spent enjoying traditional Dutch food at terraces and restaurants across the city or enjoying snacks like the kroketten, dinners at home with friends and family can be just as filling and satisfying.
One of my favorite meals in the Netherlands didn’t take place in a fancy restaurant or cost a fortune. Simply grilling up some ribs and pairing them with a Pilsener and some excellent company made for a truly memorable dining experience.
Drinks: The Party Don’t Stop
Like many European countries, alcohol is an integral part of Dutch culture. Popular drinks include beer (of course) and Jenever, a Dutch gin made with juniper berries. Whether you’re sipping your booze while overlooking one of Amsterdam’s canals, or hanging with friends in crowded apartment, you can be sure the drinks will keep flowing until the wee hours of the morning.
If you ever get the opportunity to experience the Netherlands, your visit will inevitably teach you many new things about a fascinating and fun-loving culture. As with traveling anywhere, keep an open mind and positive attitude – you never know what exciting food experience is right around the corner.