The guide to exploring Dutch food culture

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 11:26:22

(VOVworld) - Although the Netherlands is not known for its cuisine, there's much more to Dutch food than just raw herring. Without many refinements, the food culture here is best described as rustic and simple. To Julia Van Herwaarden, a Dutch volunteer teacher at Hanoi University and also our guest on this week’s Culture Rendezvous, there are many delicious Dutch delights which must be tried at least once.

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Although the Netherlands is not known for its cuisine, there's much more to Dutch food than just raw herring. (Photo: expatshaarlem.nl)
Q: Hello Julia, thank you for joining us on our show again. So, since you’ve been in Hanoi for a while, do you miss the food at home?

A: Yes, I really miss the traditional food of the Netherlands now. The one I miss the most is the black liquorice, which we usually eat as candies. Everyone can enjoy liquorice, no matter what your age is. Now I’m here in Hanoi, I really miss it. I have actually asked someone to bring me some liquorice from home.

Q: I have tried some liquorice candies before and I think their taste was quite unique…

A: Some foreigners find they taste like raw food (laugh) but that’s really something typical of the Dutch. We have different flavors to those candies. For me, I love the salty liquorice but there are also the sweet ones or liquorice covered in sugar - so so many different specialties. I think every one in the Netherlands has their own favorite flavor.

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In the Netherlands, there are different flavors of liquorice to suite personal taste. (Photo: thepinksugarmouse.com)

Q: Since it’s that popular, can you make it at home?

A: I don’t think so. I haven’t heard of anyone making it at home.

Q: Any other special foods that you want to share us?

A: Yes, another famous food of the Netherlands is stroopwafel, which is loved by many people all over the world. They have two thin layers of waffle and stuffed with sweet sauce, something close to caramel.

Q: It sounds very different compared to the waffle we usually eat?

A: Yes if you compare Dutch waffle to that of Brussels in Belgium, they are much thinner and don’t have the sweet sauce inside. And here in the Netherlands, we don’t eat waffles with anything else but just as a cookie or as a snack served with coffee.

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A typical Dutch stroopwafel has two thin layers of waffle and is filled with sweet sauce. (Photo: huffingtonpost.com)

Q: I saw people making waffles with a waffle iron. Do people in the Netherlands also make waffles that way?

A: No, not exactly. We have a special machine to make Dutch waffles. All you need to do is put the liquid dough in the machine and it will do the rest of the job like pressing and cooking the dough into thin and flat layers. Then it will pour some caramel between the layers. In local markets, bakers even make waffles live in front of customers.

Q: So we’ve talked a lot about sweet food from the Netherlands, which makes me curious about the savory dishes in your country.  

A: If you ask me about typical Dutch food for dinner, I will say potatoes served with meat and vegetables. But I think it’s more like an eating habit of the older generations like my grandparents or my parents because that were all they could harvest from the farm. Though this type of food is also common in many countries around the world, it’s especially typical in my country. You can put it this way: if you talk about Asia, you think about rice and noodle and if you talk about the Netherlands, you think about potatoes.

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Dutch people used to have potatoes for dinner almost everyday. (Photo: afoodcentriclife.com)

Q: You said that eating potatoes for dinner is more like an eating habit among the older generations. Does it mean the younger people like don’t do it anymore?

A: Yes, it’s changing now. The people of my age and I don’t eat potatoes that much. We are more into Italian food and Asian food. But now I have been away from home for over 3 months, I miss the taste of those foods.

Q: I heard that the Netherlands is so famous for producing and drinking beer. Do you drink beer even at dinner?

 A: As far as I know, people would drink pure water; some will drink beer, wine or water with syrups. I think we took a little bit from the French and the Italians and sometimes drink wine during dinner. But everything is fine since we don’t have any special drinks when dining.

 

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People in the Netherlands usually put the whole pan with food on the dinning table to share. (Photo: cloudinary.com)

Q: Do you have any special rules or habits when dining?

A: No but usually when we hold a family dinner, we will put the whole pan with food on the dinning table for everyone to share. They can get a portion by themselves, according to how much they want. But you have to finish what’s in your dish first before you take some extras. For the special dinner like the one on the Christmas day, we usually serve food in individual dishes instead of putting the whole pan on the table.

Thank you Julia for sharing with us some of your interesting observations about the food culture of the Netherlands! And that’s been the Culture Rendezvous on VOV24/7!