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The Dutch are not best known for their culinary traditions. In fact, if you were to ask someone outside of the Netherlands to name some famous Dutch food products, they would probably only remember Dutch cheese or Heineken beer. Expats and those who have enjoyed holidays in the Netherlands on the other hand, are far more likely to be acquainted with the delicious Dutch dishes and typical food items detailed below.
Popular Dutch Breakfast and Lunch Products
One of the most popular Dutch food products has to be the chocolate sprinkles called ‘hagelsag’ that are almost mandatory at breakfast time. Hageslag has been a favourite topping for bread and toast in the Netherlands since its invention by leading Dutch chocolate manufacturer, Venz, in 1936. Venz developed hagelslag after receiving a barrage of letters from a young Dutch boy who repeatedly appealed for a chocolate spread. Today hagelsag is available in a whole host of varieties including ‘chocolade vlokken’ (chocolate flakes), ‘vruchtenhagel’ (fruit flavour), ‘anijshagel’ (aniseed flavour), ‘geboortemuisjes’ (pink and blue sprinkles, enjoyed on rusks to celebrate the arrival of a baby boy or girl), ‘gestampte muisjes’ (comparable to icing sugar, but with an aniseed flavour) and ‘schuddebuikjes’ (chocolate balls). The most prolific brands are Venz and De Ruijter, while most Dutch supermarkets stock their own house label. And although it is generally difficult to obtain abroad, hagelslag can be purchased in former Dutch colonies such as Surinam and Indonesia.
Another much-loved Dutch sandwich filing is ‘Rinse Appelstroop’, an intensely flavoured apple spread, not to be confused with ‘schenkstroop’ which is a pouring syrup commonly served with pancakes. In recent years the biscuit flavoured ‘Lotus speculoospasta’ has also become a Dutch spread of choice – this is made from the ever popular Lotus biscuit which often accompany a cup of coffee in the Netherlands.
The Dutch also enjoy their peanut butter – Calvé is widely revered as the ‘one and only’ Dutch peanut butter, thanks in part to a sustained marketing campaign by its manufacturer, that saw famous Dutch athletes such as Olympic swimmer, Pieter van den Hoogenband and ice skater, Evert van Benthem, promoting the brand on Dutch television.
Other preferred Dutch breakfast and lunch items include ‘brinta’ (a thin porridge that is quick and easy to prepare), ‘bolletje beschuit’ (similar to rusks) and ‘ontbijtkoek’ (gingerbread). Peijnenburg produce a healthy version of this delicious Dutch cake, making it the best selling brand in the Netherlands.
Preferred Dutch Dinner Products
The Dutch also actively choose to make use of typical Dutch ingredients in the preparation of their evening meal. Even chips are served in a distinctly Dutch fashion – instead of ketchup, Dutch fries typically come with ‘appelmoes’ (apple sauce), mayonnaise or ‘fritesaus’ (a special mayonnaise for chips). Sauces from the biggest brands such as Calvé and Remia can now be purchased in many countries around the world.
A product that is almost certain to trigger an acute bout of ‘heimwee’ (homesickness) for Dutch emigrants, is the beloved ‘Unox Gelderse rookworst’. This tasty sausage is used in a range of Dutch recipes including ‘boerenkoolstamppot’ (a traditional stew) and ‘erwtensoep’ (a hearty pea soup) and is often eaten in a sandwich.
The ‘Indonesian rijstafel’ provides the Dutch with a fun opportunity to enjoy a taste of their colonial past and is incredibly fashionable in the Netherlands these days. This meal is usually very elaborate and showcases a large number of Indonesian dishes in one sitting. To save on time, many opt for the convenience of Conimex spice mixes such as ‘Conimex groentemix’ for authentic ‘bami goreng’ (Indonesian noodles) or ‘nasi goreng’ (Indonesian fried rice). These firm favourites are served with a selection of exotic Indonesian sauces including ‘ketjap manis’ (soy sauce), ‘pinda satésaus’ (sate sauce) and ‘sambal oelek’ (chilli sauce) and tasty Indonesian snacks such as ‘kroepoek’ (prawn crackers).
Typical Dutch Snacks
Despite their healthy appearance, the Dutch have a definite sweet tooth and Dutch sweets especially, are positively favoured.
Dutch liquorice, known as ‘drop’, is held in particularly high esteem. It comes in two different versions – ‘zoete drop’ (sweet) and ‘zoute drop’ (salty) – and boasts a unique flavour, quite unlike that of liquorice in other countries. Giants in the world of liquorice include ‘Klene Muntdrop’ (shaped like coins), ‘Venco topdrop’, ‘Katja kokindjes’, ‘Venco honingdrop’, ‘Venco droptoefjes’ and ‘Venco dropmix’. Other quintessential Dutch sweets include ‘Rademaker hopjes’ and ‘Haagse hopjes’ which are both a type of hard, sweet caramel with a coffee flavour.
The Dutch get the perfect opportunity to indulge their love of all things sweet during ‘Sinterklaas’, a Dutch children’s celebration similar to Christmas. ‘Speculaas’ (a spiced cake), ‘Bolletje oud Hollandse pepernoten’ (ginger biscuits), ‘Bolletje kruidnoten’ (akin to pepernoten), ‘Sint schuimpjes’ (a foam-like sweet) and the essential ‘Droste chocolade letter’ (solid chocolate in the shape of the recipients first initial) are all devoured in large volumes.
‘Roomboter stroopwafels’(delectable caramel waffles) are not only prized by the Dutch, but also in high demand with visitors to the Netherlands, who often buy huge quantities from Dutch supermarkets and airports, before leaving for home.
And the Netherlands is home to some distinctive crisps and bar snacks that simply cannot be obtained elsewhere. The aptly named ‘Smith hamkas’ (a cheese and ham flavoured corn snack) is a fine example, as are ‘Duyvis borrelnootjes’ and ‘Duyvis tijgernootjes’, varieties of nuts that have been enjoyed in Holland for generations.