I didn’t realize how much of a foodie I was until I moved to the Netherlands. I thought I loved food as much as the next person, but I stand corrected! I can now describe myself confidently as a self-proclaimed foodie, especially among my Dutch friends and classmates, who really don’t give a damn.
Before I left to study abroad, every plan I made to say goodbye to my friends and family involved getting coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner or my favorite, BRUNCH. Food is always the foundation in celebrations. It’s a truly proper farewell to bond over a beachside breakfast or bond with friends with a stroll around a farmers market sampling hummus of every flavor known to man. Food plays a large role in all the holidays, traditions, birthdays and overall culture of America.
So, once I made it to the Netherlands, it was only natural to be curious about what the typical Dutch foods are. I asked my local friends about the foods that they ate on their holidays and on a day-to-day basis. They were taken by surprise and giggled at this sort of question. “Why are you so interested in what we eat, Kelsey???” I learned quickly that there is not a large food culture happening here in the Netherlands. They even call it “non-existent.”
I probably am being really dramatic about this but may I remind you I’m from San Diego: home of delicious Mexican food, scrumptious Asian food and heavenly healthy food. The list goes on.
Here in the Netherlands, you can find food that comes from all over the world, but rarely a traditional Dutch food place.
I must give the Dutch their credit, though. Some Dutch foods I’ve learned about in my quest for food answers include the tasty desert stroopwafel which is two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like filling in its center. You can eat it easily like a cookie. It’s chewy consistency makes it a sweet treat that’ll have you salivating for “just one more.” It can be purchased nearly anywhere in the Netherlands.
Next, bitterballen is a fried mixture of meat, flour and spices rolled into a breadcrumb covered ball and ready to dip in mayonnaise. The Dutch love their fried finger foods, probably because they pair perfectly with a nice cold beer. Also, since the Netherlands is located near the sea, seafood is present in their diets. A very traditional food the Dutch eat is herring. It’s a raw fish that’s usually served with chopped onions and bread. Traditionally it is eaten by holding the fish by its tail as you dunk it into your mouth with your head thrown back. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
From the two months I’ve spent living in Rotterdam, I’ve learned more and more about the Dutch way. For a Dutch person, a typical day consists of two cold meals and one hot meal. It’s cold meals for breakfast and lunch, while the hot meal is usually reserved for dinner. I had never planned out my meals based on temperature, so this was so interesting to me! Cold meals were things like yogurt, salads, sandwiches, sandwiches and more sandwiches. Bread is life out here. A typical or traditional dinner consists of meat, potatoes and vegetables. When I asked why they chose their meals like this, all of the responses were “It’s just normal!”
For the dutch, simplicity and easiness is key!
The dutch may not always go out to eat, but they sure do love to go out for a drink. For this reason, restaurants and cafes are often full of people relaxing from their days at school or work with good friends. The Dutch, and Europeans in general, love their leisure time and treat every day like it’s worth a mini celebration. I could get used to this!
But of course, I do miss In-n-Out.
Kelsey Deguia is media studies major. She will be studying at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands for the 2016-17 academic year.