Like many other countries, Holland is often not known for its own cuisine, having borrowed and adopted dishes from elsewhere, including its former colonies Indonesia and Suriname. When the Dutch left Indonesia. they brought with them an undying appetite for Satay (spicy peanut) sauce and the rijsttafel (ryst-tah-fell, rice table in English), the serving of many small Indonesian dishes revolving around rice. There are many Indonesian and Asian restaurants in Amsterdam where you can enjoy this; for instance the Indrapura on Rembrandtplein.
Also popular are authentic Dutch pannenkoeken (pancakes), served on a big plate topped off with powdered sugar or syrup (maple and many other varieties). If you don’t have a sweet tooth there are also hartig (hearty) pancakes served with cheese, meat, mushrooms etc. In addition, there are poffertjes which are small silver-dollar-sized pancakes which come in every flavor, but the best are plain with powdered sugar sprinkled over melted butter – absolutely delicious, and don’t even think about the calories this once! While you can enjoy this in many cafes and restaurants all over the Netherlands, the experience becomes even more enjoyable in a special “pancake house” that is rarely to be found in Amsterdam, but instead much more frequently in the countryside.
Note: We offer an excursion to Lage Vuursche, only about half an hour away (from Amsterdam), where Queen Beatrix grew up and now lives in retirement in Drakesteyn Castle. There you will also find an adorable little street of “pancake houses”, a sight to behold as far as I am concerned, straight out of Hansel and Gretel!
Apart from all this, there are also stamppot (a thick type of stew) consisting of potatoes mashed together with a vegetable, and the delicious erwtensoep (pea soup) both served with sausage, made from scratch with fresh ingredients. These dishes are especially popular during the winter months when they keep your belly warm against the cold. In the summer there is salted haring (herring), served raw and fresh, often with onions and sometimes on bread. (Many tourists enjoy watching the way the Dutch eat the herring raw, and trying it oneself ranks high among new experiences!!) For a junk food snack there are the famous kroketten (a fried beef-filled, breadcrumbed food roll) and bitterballen (bitter balls), both of which are often pulled out of a wall vending machine – do not even ask what they are made of! Another Dutch original is the stroopwafel (syrup waffle), especially popular with a cup of strong Dutch koffie (coffee). For those ready for a stronger drink, there is Jenever, the Dutch ancestor of modern gin, or a Dutch bier (beer), both chased with the many varieties of Dutch kaas (cheese).
These are just some examples of the Dutch cuisine, although restaurants everywhere also serve delicious “Dutchified” French dishes; so even if the food (or the weather, for that matter) is not the reason you are visiting the Netherlands, note that the lack of a known cuisine does not mean that the food here is not good. To the contrary, in fact, it can be delicious indeed and there are even some excellent restaurants which have been awarded one, two, and even three Michelin stars.