Dutch cuisine is not a term often heard as meals in Holland are rather simple when compared to other European countries like France, Italy or Spain. Key food items are cheese, potatoes, sausage, beef, bread, chocolate and dairy products. Popular beverages are coffee and fruit juices.
The Dutch often start their day with slices of buttered bread, a roll with jam or honey or yogurt with fresh fruit. A weekend breakfast may also consist of eggs with sausage, ham or fresh fish. Children will eat cereal or buttered bread topped with chocolate sprinkles (‘hagelslag‘).
A cheese sandwich (‘broodjes‘) is the most common Dutch lunch item and is usually accompanied by a glass of milk. If workers venture out for lunch, they may opt for deep fried fish (‘kibbeling‘), a cone of french fries (‘patat‘) topped with a mayonnaise-like dressing (‘fritessaus‘), salted herring (‘Hollandse Nieuwe haring’) or a salad (‘sla‘) with sliced meats.
In Holland, 6pm is dinner time and it is rare for Dutch people not to make it home from work by that time. Some common foods the Dutch eat for supper include:
- Stamppot consists of mashed potatoes with a sausage on top. The mashed potatoes are usually mixed with another vegetable such as carrots (‘wortel stamppot‘), spinach (‘spinaziestamppot‘), beets (‘bietenstamppot‘), kale (‘stamppot boerenkool‘), endive (‘andijviestamppot‘) or red cabbage (‘stamppot rodekool‘).
- Erwtensoep is a thick pea soup with cubes of ham, bacon or sausage.
- Frikandel and Krokets are tube-shaped snacks containing a mix of meats. Krokets are breaded, Frikhandel are not.
- Bitterbalen are deep-fried breaded balls filled with a mix of meat in a croquette sauce.
Expats living in Holland can find a wide range of Dutch sweets and baked goods in their local supermarket. Popular items include:
- Pannenkoeken – A cross between a crepe and a pancake, eaten with all kinds of fillings and toppings: syrup, fruits, cheese, powdered sugar.
- Stroopwafels – A soft cookie made of 2 thin wafers bonded with a caramel syrup. Best eaten warm.
- Wafels – Thick waffles can be plain, sugar-coated or partially covered with chocolate icing. As a dessert, they are often topped with whip cream (‘slagroom’) or in summer with fresh strawberries (‘aardbei’).
- Spekkoek – A layer cake with thin layers of butter sponge cake separated by layers of filling made from Indonesian spices and sugar.
- Poffertjes – Small round flaky pastries filled with whipped cream, served warm with powdered sugar on top.
- Vla – A thick pudding offered in a wide variety of flavours such as raspberry (‘framboos’), caramel, banana and apple-cinnamon (‘appel-kaneel’). It is similar to English custard.
- Vlaai – A flat pie with fruit or cream filling. A popular variety is topped with a lattice crust.
- Drop – A strong tasting licorice candy comes in a variety of flavours.
- Oliebollen – A ball of deep fried dough (sometimes with raisins) eaten warm and topped with powdered sugar. It is a popular treat during the holiday period from early November through the New Year.
- Pepermunt – Peppermint were first produced by a Dutch company named ‘Fortuin’ in 1842. In 1892 the company celebrated its 50th anniversary by introducing a disk-shaped mint embossed with the likeness of the young Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, who was 12 years old at the time. The company still exists and is the largest peppermint producer in the Netherlands. Its ‘Wilhelmina’ brand peppermints are distributed around the world.
The Netherlands is one of the largest producers of cheese (‘kaas’) with one of the highest per capita consumptions of cheese. Cheeses are usually named after the Dutch city or region where they originated; many of these names are familiar to consumers around the world, such as Gouda, Edam, Leyden and Limburger cheese. Dutch shopping malls typically have one or more cheese shops (‘boerenkaaswinkel’ or ‘boerenkaasspecialists’).
Cheese can be purchased in rounds, chunks or pre-sliced. The taste will vary based on the amount of time it has cured; young cheese is milder than old cheese.
Kwark is a popular dairy product with similarities to cottage cheese, but with a smooth texture.