Famous Dutch Food: Lekker Nederland
2021-09-07 | By Tracey Taylor
In 1885, Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh painted his masterpiece De Aardappeleters (The Potato Eaters) which depicted peasants gathered around a table eating potatoes, a staple of the diet at the time. Although the average Dutch person still consumes about 65 kilos of potatoes a year, the composition of Dutch cuisine today paints rather a different picture.
With summer behind us, it’s time to start thinking of autumnal foods, and traditional Dutch cuisine certainly offers a myriad of “comfort foods” that are perfect for the colder, darker evenings–think appeltaart (apple tart), ertwensoep (pea soup), stamppot (a potato veggie mash) and the kapsalon (see ‘Did you know’).
Delve into the twelve
These traditional dishes aside, the food scene in the Netherlands has grown in stature over the past number of years, and the innovation coming to food and sustainability spotlights Dutch cuisine more and more on the world stage. With a focus on local produce recognised internationally for its quality, the Netherlands has fast become home to many top restaurants and Michelin-starred chefs.
These gems of culinary magic and invention are not just centred in one city or region but are dotted throughout the country. Additionally, many parts of the Netherlands have wonderful regional dishes and if you look across the twelve provinces of the country, the Dutch have it pretty much covered from A to Z.
Starting with the provinces in the west (North and South Holland and Zeeland), we find the most famous Dutch cheeses (e.g. Gouda and Edam) along with the freshest of seafood direct from the North Sea which make up delights like Zeeuwse mosselen (mussels) and Dutch haring (herring).
Out at sea
Moving away from the mainland, the stunning Wadden Islands (also called the Frisian Islands) offer up a glorious mix from craft beers and local honey on Texel, to smoked fish (mackerel and salmon) on Terschilling and sustainable fruit and vegetables on Schiermonikoog. What a wealth of high-quality produce from the largest tidal flats system in the world!
Turning east and moving back inland, Flevoland, Gelderland, Overijssel and Utrecht host all things yummy. From the fruit and vegetable gardens of Flevoland to Gelderland’s stimpstamp (mashed endive) and speculaashart (spiced cookies). From the various dairy products of Overijssel to the chocolate domtorentjes (chocolate bonbons) and botersprits (butter biscuits) of Utrecht.
Further north are the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen–regions known for their game meats and various types of dried sausage. There is also the Drentse turf (a type of cake) and a special mustard from Groningen to get your teeth into. And not forgetting Friesland which is famous for another staple of the Dutch diet, bread. The rye bread Friesland Fries roggebrood is known all across the Netherlands.
Heading south, Limburg and North Brabant are the regions known for their vineyards (the vineyards of Maastricht being some of the oldest in the country), Limburgse vlaai (pie), pastries–the moorkop (a type of profiterole) being particularly popular, blanche dael coffee, the Brabantse sausage roll and asparagus!
Asparagus is a pretty big thing in the southern provinces and even though the season only lasts about two months each year, white asparagus from Limburg and North Brabant is world famous and is lovingly referred to as “white gold” by the Dutch.
Back in 2014, Oxfam’s “Good Enough to Eat” index already saw potential in the Dutch approach to food and ranked the Netherlands as the number one country in the world for having the most plentiful, affordable, and nutritious diet. It seems they were spot on! Over the past year and a half, many individuals have realised that the more important things in life are the simple ones, particularly when it comes to food. There is a renewed hunger for fresh and sustainable produce, regional ingredients, and the desire to ‘support local’.
So why not join the growing trend and grab a spoon because lekker Nederland has all you need!
Still missing the Summer vibe? Check out this article about Summer food.