One of the more disappointing discoveries I made during my study abroad experience is that Dutch cuisine is, for lack of a better word, underwhelming. It’s actually quite famous for being bland with lots of veggies and not much meat. Dutch people’s affinity for fish was influenced by its location on the North Sea, and the country’s colonization gave rise to lots of Indian and Indonesian restaurants.
Some traditional Dutch food I sampled included poffertjes from a food stand at the Albert Cuyp Market. Poffertjes are basically miniature pancakes with powdered sugar. I also loaded mine with chocolate and Nutella, which was a delicious treat! I also enjoyed the stroopwafels, which the hostel my group stayed at often served for breakfast and lunch. While stroopwafels look like a waffle, they taste more like a hard wafer doused in caramel.
Not as tasty, however, was stamppot, which is basically the Netherland’s signature dish. It’s a combination of mashed potatoes and a variety of vegetables (corn, carrots, broccoli, etc.) and meat. The exact ingredients differ depending on where you buy it, though. While it was edible, I can confidently say I’m not a fan of smoked sausage after trying this dish.
I also didn’t particularly enjoy Bitterballen, which I bought at a music festival on Liberation Day, a national holiday in the Netherlands that marks the end of Nazi occupation during WWII. Bitterballen are balls of beef or veal that are deep fried in bread crumbs and seasoned with spices.
Other than these few traditional Dutch dishes, most food offerings were similar to the United States. In fact, it seemed that the Dutch, or at least the tourists in Amsterdam, have an affinity for American hamburgers, fries and “New York pizza” based on the amount of restaurants serving this cuisine in the city. One difference I noticed when dining however is that water isn’t as readily available, and there’s no ranch dressing — which happens to be my favorite condiment.
As someone who drinks lots of coffee, I enjoyed the numerous latte, espresso and cappuccino offerings in Amsterdam’s cafes. While the portions weren’t as large as in the U.S., they tasted great and most of the baristas took the time to make pretty foam art. Pictured below is a latte from Cafe Oporto near Dam Square.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s tons of Indian and Indonesian restaurants in the city due to Dutch colonization of these countries. On the last day of my study abroad trip, I got to go to a sit-down Indonesian restaurant where I ate lots of delicious meat, rice dishes and dessert. I also ate at an Italian restaurant and a Japanese restaurant while on my trip, which were delicious as well.
Overall, I got to try lots of new foods in Amsterdam, which was fun and an adventure. While I didn’t love all of it (especially traditional Dutch dishes), I found new foods I liked and got to try international cuisine that I’d never sampled before.