Deliciously tasty to locals, an acquired taste to almost everyone else – make your own mind up about ‘drop’, the nation’s favourite liquorice. There are also dozens of other culinary delights to try, from stroopwafels to stamppot to snert. ‘Eet smakelijk’!
In Texas, oil is called ‘black gold’. In the Netherlands, the nickname refers to ‘drop’. It’s a type of liquorice that comes in a variety of tastes, from sweet to ‘salmiak’ (extremely salty). The astringent taste comes from ammonium chloride, which make it an acquired taste – and those not used to the flavour may be in for a surprise. It’s good to know that modern ‘drop’ can sometimes include honey and other sweeteners – many of which are sold all over Schiphol.
Stroopwafel (syrup waffles)
Stroopwafels are a real treat. Think of them as a ‘golden syrup sandwich’ - two thin layers of waffle, with another layer of syrup sandwiched in-between. Most Dutch people enjoy them with a cup of coffee or tea, but there’s no limit to how many you’re allowed to gobble up in one sitting! You’ll find them served hot at many markets, in a variety of sizes. There are also pre-packaged versions available in virtually all supermarkets.
The Dutch love a hearty meal, and ‘stamppot’ is a winter staple. The base consists of mashed potatoes, with varying amounts of mixed vegetables like kale, pickled cabbage, endives or sometimes even curry added. This mixture is usually served with a big fat sausage, a giant meatball or piece of steak lopped on top. If you want to impress a Dutch friend, make a big well in the middle of the mixture and pour in some gravy.
Snert (pea soup)
Snert translates to English as ‘lousy’, even though the taste is anything but. This thick pea soup is enjoyed during the winter months, when the temperature typically plunges to below zero. The soup consists of peas, onion, carrot, celery and leek. There’s also one curious way to taste-test it – by placing your spoon in the pot. If it stands straight up, it’s ready to eat. Snert is often served with rye bread, or topped with bacon and cheese.
More, more, more?
At many stations and busy pedestrian areas, you’ll notice a wall of ovens that contain all sorts of fried snacks. This is what the Dutch refer to as ‘buying food from the wall’. Put in a few coins to buy a croquette for a truly Dutch snack. The hot chips in the Netherlands are also amazingly good served, especially when served with a giant dollop of mayonnaise. The Dutch also have a love for coffee and cakes, especially apple pie (‘appeltaart’) topped with whipped cream.