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Top 5 foods voted most likely to be missed when leaving the Netherlands

The Direct Dutch Institute recommends speaking Dutch as often as possible - even if all your Dutch colleagues speak English, and even if you only know a few words of Dutch. Ruud Hisgen gives you some food for thought and conversation.

The way to an international’s heart is through the stomach, is a truth universally acknowledged. For our recent contest, a free Dutch intensive course, we begged the question: "Which Dutch food item will you miss most if you move back to your home country?"

Over 350 contestants told us what Dutch food item they’d miss most. Drop (liquorice) appears to be the least favourite of over 36 food items, which included: kibbeling (deep-fried cod bits), oliebol (doughnut ball), speculaas (spiced biscuit), appeltaart (apple pie), gevulde koek (almond filling cake), patat (French fries), kroket (croquette), pannenkoek (pancake), and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles).

Note: Kaas and haring ended up sharing the same spot in the top 5, so they are now dubbed 3A and 3B.

Number 5: Poffertjes

These mini-pancakes can be eaten all over the Netherlands in little picturesque poffertjeshuizen (poffertjes restaurants). You can eat them with or without cream, but never without lots of butter and powdered sugar.

Of all the Dutch foods in our top 5, this is the only one that has earned an entry in the distinguished Oxford English Dictionary. British linguists once defined it as "A small light pancake or fritter, typically fried and dusted with sugar". They suggest the word was borrowed from the Afrikaans word "poffertjie", but we know better...

The first time the "P" word was printed in an English book, was in Edinburg in 1804 in Mrs Hudson & Mrs Donat’s The New Practice of Cookery, Pastry, Baking, and Preserving: Being the Country Housewife's Best Friend.

Their recipe is as follows: "To make Dutch Pufferties (sic): take a pint of cream and six eggs... Put them into custard cups, sift a little fine sugar over the top, and send them to the oven to bake." Don’t try this recipe at home. Try our Dutch poffertjes recipe instead. Watch out, though; Poffertjes are a calorie bomb.

Number 4: Stamppot

According to international cookery books, this dish is the Dutch equivalent of renowned haut cuisine such as coq au vin, massaman curry, tandoori chicken, seafood paella, ankimo, shepherd’s pie, Penang Assam laksa or Neapolitan pizza. But stamppot doesn't compare to these dishes.

English dictionaries can't come up with a satisfactory translation. No, it's not a stew, a hotchpotch, mashed potatoes with cabbage or bubble and squeak. So, what is stamppot exactly?

Its literal meaning is "mash pot" and it's a traditional dish made from mashed (gestampte) potatoes with one or more vegetables such as sauerkraut, endive, kale, spinach, turnips, etc. If you mix spuds with carrots and onions, the Dutch call it hutspot and the Flemish call it wortelstoemp.

Stamppot is usually served with sausage, bacon or stewed meat. The nicest stamppotten are those in which the vegetables are "al dente".

Number 3A: Kaas

The Dutch don’t mind being called a kaaskop (cheesehead) by the Flemish because they love their cheeses, and they are proud of their golden treasures.

There are many different types of Dutch cheese: Jonge, Belegen, Oude, Beemster, Kernhem, Leerdammer, Limburgse, Maasdammer, Old Amsterdam, Zaanlander, Edammer, Friese, Goudse, Leidse, Noord-Hollandse, Stolwijker, Boeren, Gras, Hooi, Mei, Rook, and Smeerkaas... The list goes on and on!

So much cheese in such a small country. No wonder the Dutch language is imbued with so many cheesy metaphors.

Number 3B: Haring

Yes, some internationals find the way the Dutch gobble up the raw fish in public spaces detestable, and for some just witnessing the old custom is enough to make their stomachs turn.

However, once you've tried it yourself, there is no turning back… you’ll be hooked to the Hollandse Nieuwe. Forty of our contestants have indicated that they will miss eating this delicacy when they move away from the Netherlands.

Therefore, the government should do away with the controversial inburgeringstest (naturalisation test) and ask freshly imported Dutchies to prove their Dutchness by swallowing the haring. Isn’t that a good and delicious idea? Language schools can add  the course "How to enjoy herrings" to their curriculum. Rule 1: Do not eat herring with chopped onions!

Number 2: Bitterballen

To cut a long, bitter story sweet and short: a bitterbal is just a small and round croquette. That’s all folks. Delicious, but watch out, don’t burn your mouth. The inside is scalding hot.

Number 1: Stroopwafels

This large, flat and round cookie, which originated in Gouda hundreds of years ago, is taking the world by storm. Wherever you travel (Dublin, Madrid, Lisbon, New York, Sydney, Cape Town, Moscow for instance), you can probably find the stroopwafel.

Stroopwafels can give someone a truly joyful experience because as one of our contestants wrote: "The soft doughy deliciousness carries a host of warm memories. When freshly made, they are liquid goodness!"

We hope you enjoyed this article, but most of all we hope you will enjoy some of these Dutch dishes! ~ Ruud Hisgen

Ruud Hisgen is managing director of the Direct Dutch Institute, one of the oldest language institutes in The Hague. Want to understand the Dutch language and culture better? Join one of their classes or go to their free workshop "Dutch up!" in the Central Library of The Hague.

 

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Ruud

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Ruud Hisgen

Ruud is teacher and managing director at Direct Dutch, he is also an author.

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