It’s important to note that ‘bitterballen’ should not be literally translated, as they would translate to ‘bitter balls’, which is incorrect, obviously, because who would eat balls that taste bitter. After you’re done giggling because the food has the word ‘balls’ in it, you’ll probably like them more than the content would make you believe.
The bitterbal can be described as containing a mixture of minced beef or veal, beef broth and added spices, resulting in a ragout. The outside is battered in breadcrumbs. The combination makes it tastes great, especially when dipped in mayonaise or mustard, but don’t eat mustard because no.
Ontbijtkoek can be literally translated to ‘breakfast cake’, but you shouldn’t, because you shouldn’t translate anything literally. It’s not actually considered a cake, even though it looks like one. It’s made with rye, cinnamon and ginger, among other things. It’s often spreaded with butter and …IT CONTAINS NO FAT!!! In your face, other…fatty…breakfasts.
Kibbeling are pieces of white fish (cod) dipped in batter, then deepfried. They are often eaten at markets and topped with herbs, onions and a bit of lemon juice. Pieces of kibbeling always get stuck between your teeth, which is good, because you can still taste the fish hours after having them. Unlike the better known but horrendously tasting raw herring, kibbeling is something you need to try at least once.
Vlaaien are pies or tarts consisting of a type of pastry and filling. There are hundreds of types of vlaaien and almost every one tastes great. They are often topped with fruit, nuts or powdered sugar (or a combination) and more often than not come with a clot of whipped cream. They are never healthy and often eaten at birthdays, lightening up moods because that’s what people come for, obviously.
Poffertjes are nothing more than tiny pancakes, baked in specially crafted poffertjes pans. They are usually a bit sweeter than pancakes and always served with powdered sugar and butter (and sometimes blueberries or jam). Unlike pancakes, they are not served with syrup. Most people tend to cram three to four poffertjes into their mouths because it takes a hell of a long time to eat them piece by piece.
Kruidnoten are a type of confectionery and are eaten by children and adults alike, during the winter ‘Sinterklaas’ holidays in December. Lately though, they have been known to pop up as early as in August.
They have the shape of a half sphere, are hard and crispy, and have a typical ‘speculaas’ flavor. That flavor is difficult to describe, but spicy almond probably comes closest. A local tradition is to bring a bagful of these suckers into a room with children and throwing the kruidnoten at them. Time to let that built up rage loose on those brats.
Oliebollen are more commonly known as Dutch doughnuts and are only eaten around New Year’s Eve. They are created by scooping an amount of dough with special spoons, and deep frying them (The dough, not the spoons). They often contain currants, raisins or pieces of apple. Best of all, they don’t contain as much calories (80-90 per piece) as one would think when hearing the name oilballs, because that’s the literal translation of the word ‘Oliebollen’.
Peanut butter looks like poo. Fortunately it tastes a lot better and many people are very fond of it, including myself. Dutch peanutbutter is different from the more popular American kinds though, because it’s much less creamy, crunchier and just different in taste. Peanutbutter & jelly sandwiches are not popular in The Netherlands because jelly ruins the good taste of pindakaas.
9. Dutch Licorice
Foreigners often aren’t very fond of licorice, at least not the Dutch kinds. There are dozens of different types of Dutch licorice. Some soft and sweet, others hard and salty. The combinations are endless. I guess it’s understandable that some kinds of licorice are indeed very unfriendly for your tastebuds, especially ‘dubbelzout’ (doubly salted)
Stroopwafels (literally, syrupwaffles) are a chewy waffle made from two rather thin layers of batter, filled with either a gooey caramel or syrup. They are then pressed together in a waffle-iron.
Do you like syrup on your pancakes? TRY IT IN A COOKIE.
Do you like caramel in your icecream? TRY IN A COOKIE.
Best things ever
Ever had a stomach flue? Does this look familiar? Joking aside though, ‘pindasaus’ (peanutsauce) is one of the most used condiments in The Netherlands and is used in combination with a plethora of foods. Obviously, peanut sauce is not originally Dutch (It’s Indonesian) but it has become a staple of Dutch cuisine. Besides it being combined with satay, it’s mostly eaten with fries, baguettes, fried rice, potatoes and many a deep-fried meat snack.