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The Flavours of The Netherlands




The typical Dutch menu offers good, solid fare. Pork, hams and all kinds of sausages are popular, while the North Sea provides plenty of fresh fish, especially cod, herring and mackerel, as well as its own variety of tiny brown shrimps. Leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, endive (chicory) and curly kale make regular appearances, frequently mashed with the ubiquitous potato. Sauerkraut arrived from Germany long ago and is now considered a native dish. The world famous Gouda and Edam cheeses are sold at various stages of maturity, and with flavourings such as cloves, cumin or herbs

AMSTERDAM’S CULINARY INFLUENCES

 Traditional Dutch cuisine may be simple, wholesome and hearty, but the variety of food on offer in Amsterdam is huge and influenced by culinary styles from across the globe. The Netherlands was once a major colonial power and its trading ships brought back exotic



ingredients, ideas and people from former colonies to settle. Dutch chefs branched out and tried new flavours, and as such, “fusion” food has long been a feature of Amsterdam’s menus. From its street-corner fish-stalls to its cafés and top-flight gourmet restaurants, eating out in Amsterdam can be full of surprises. Over 50 national cuisines are represented,

offering a sometimes bewildering variety of choice and good value for money.

THE MELTING POT

Amsterdam has long had a reputation for religious and political tolerance. Refugees who found a safe haven there brought along their own styles of cooking. In the 16th century, Jews fleeing persecution in Portugal and Antwerp were some of the first foreigners to make their home in the city. Today, Amsterdammers count as their own such Jewish specialities as pekelvlees (salt beef), pickled vegetables (often served as salad) and a variety of sticky cakes, now found mostly in the more old-fashioned tea-rooms



The 20th century saw an influx of immigrants from Turkey and several North African countries. Large Arab and Turkish communities have become established in Amsterdam. As a result, restaurants with menus that feature Middle-Eastern style stuffed vegetables, succulent stews and couscous, are almost everywhere. Falafel (fried chickpea balls) are readily available from roadside take-aways and are now one of the city’s favourite

late-night snacks. Ethiopians, Greeks, Thais, Italians and Japanese are among other waves of immigrants to make their culinary mark, and most recently traditional British fare has become popular.

INDONESIAN LEGACY



The Dutch began colonizing Indonesia in the 17th century and ruled the south-east Asian archipelago right up until 1949. Indonesian cuisine has had a marked influence on eating habits in The Netherlands. Ingredients once regarded as exotic have crept into Dutch dishes. It is now common-place to spice up apple pies and biscuits with cinnamon, which is sometimes even used to flavour vegetables. Coconut and chillis are very popular flavourings, too, and sampling a rijsttafel  is considered one of the highlights of any trip to the country


LOCAL DISHES AND SPECIALITIES



 Dining out in the Netherlands is almost guaranteed to come up with some curious quirks. Cheese, ham and bread are standards at breakfast, but you may also find ontbijtkoek (gingerbread) and hagelslag (grains of chocolate) to sprinkle over bread. Ham and cheese are also lunchtime staples, often served in a bread roll with a glass of milk, though more adventurous sandwiches and salads are also common nowadays. In Amsterdam, pancake houses provide both sweet and savoury snacks throughout the day. The evening is the time when Amsterdam’s eateries have the most to offer. The soups and mashed vegetables of Dutch farmhouse cooking sit alongside spicy Indonesian delights, as well as innovative cuisine from some of Amsterdam’s fine chefs.

The Flavours of The Netherlands The Flavours of The Netherlands Reviewed by MELANIE INFINITY on January 10, 2020 Rating: 5

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