Amsterdam. At just the mention of this infamous city, images of the Red Light District and decriminalized marijuana come to mind. While these two stereotypical things are parts of the city, this capital of the Netherlands has much more to offer in the form of my favorite way to experience culture: FOOD.
After being here just two weeks, I’ve experienced a myriad of different dishes spanning from traditional Dutch fair to Egyptian street food to the most beautiful vegetarian fare I’ve ever seen.
If there’s one thing you need to know about the Dutch, it’s that they are a meat-and-potatoes kind of people. Because of it’s northerly location, the weather there can be quite cold; Amsterdam is also traditionally a maritime city, so those who worked at the docks and on ships all day needed substantial food to keep them full. I also see this genre of food as comfort food– things you would want to eat at home on a rainy day, which is quite common in this area.
Fries, or “friets”, are definitely a staple in the Dutch diet. As an American, I thought I knew all about fries, but the Dutch take it to a whole new level. Their fries are usually what we would think of as steak fries, but they never have the peel on them and they somehow manage to stay crispy FOREVER. (Maybe I just ate them quick enough that they never got soggy, but I’m telling you, these fries defy the laws of nature.)
The friets are often served with “frietsauce” which is very similar to mayonnaise. I always thought I was the weird kid as I dipped my fries in mayo while others stared on wildly with gobs of ketchup on their plates. Other traditional toppings include peanut sauce, curry, raw onions, or Gouda cheese (which actually originates from Gouda, the Netherlands and is actually pronounced “How-da”). The bottom line is no one does fries like the Dutch, so cast your predisposed fry notions aside and indulge in these wonderful little pieces of heaven.
One thing I’ve learned about being here in the Netherlands is that while they use the same alphabet as we do in English, their pronunciation is completely different. For example, for the past two weeks I’ve been pronouncing “stroop” just as it looks, which it is actually pronounced like “stroke” but with a “p”. The bottom line is, don’t think you’re going to come into the Netherlands and sound like you speak the language because everything you think you know about pronunciation is completely wrong. But hey, it’s a great opportunity to drop that American ego and pick up some new phrases.
Anyways, stroop wafels are a delicous little snack, literally translating to “syrup waffle”. Little balls of dough are pressed very thin inside a cast iron pressed. A sandwich is made with two thin wafels, and a thick caramel-syrup like sauce is spread in between them. So delicious! An easy place to find them is right in the middle of the Albert Cuyp market.
Bitterballen & Breweries
Troost is a really great brewery in De Pijp neighborhood. I think growing up in Indiana, we really take for granted how many awesome local breweries we have, and that’s not the case everywhere. So if you’re a fan of brew pubs, definitely check this place out. It’s a great place to be on a Friday night, but call ahead and make a reservation (Don’t worry, they all speak English).
One great Dutch snack you can get here is called bitterballen. It’s basically balls of thick homemade creamy gravy that is then breaded and deep fried. I’m still trying to figure out how to make it, but until I do, try it out here at Troost.
The bitterballen are traditionally served with mustard like this. It’s basically mustard on steroids. Yes, those little balls are mustard seeds; not for the faint of heart. I asked for a bowl of aioli and that was perfect for dipping!
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now! Here’s a couple more pictures of food I’ve eaten these last couple of weeks:
Genre: Middle Eastern
Dish: Kapsalon with beef (Dish made with fries, Doner beef, melted cheese, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and a delicious garlic sauce)
Dish: Avocado, grilled green onion, purple carrots, snap peas, bean sprouts, bean cake
Genre: Grand Cafe
Dish: Ribeye with hollandaise, friets, spring salad
***This restaurant has a beautiful terrace with breathtaking views of the Amstel river.
Restaurant: Loetje (Pronounced “Lucha”)
Genre: Grand Cafe
Dish: Chicken Bacon Salad (if you can call that a salad!)
All my love and a little butter,
Senior in Dietetics and the Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program at Purdue University