Since I landed last week, I have had some time to explore some dutch eccentricities whilst hobbling over the sunny cobbled streets. It has so far been glorious. The sun has done a very important job. For the whole of this first week it has shone like it probably would do on a caribbean holiday….dutch style.
I have now had the pleasure of eating Bitterballen, deep-fried balls filled with meat stew. You eat it with mustard. It’s yum. They like their fried foods here. Delicacies such as deep-fried cheese spring rolls; deep-fried croquettes similar to Bitterballen; deep-fried frikandel’ers; sausage rolls with a sweet kind of sauce inside; and flat, cheese-filled, deep-fried ravioli-shaped things called Kaas soufflés.
They also have a raw minced meat sausage called Ossenworst. When you ask for an Ossenworst toastie they slap the whole darn sausage into it.
You will notice the local Supermarket chain called Albert Heijn.
‘Albert Heijn-Stein’ has appeal. Infinitely different to any big UK supermarket that you could think of. They sell fresh garlic bulbs to start with. And, if you fancy it, you can buy a monstrous-sized singular carrot, beautifully wrapped in thick cling film. Each carrot is of equal size and weight, and will probably feed you for three days. But, the cheese counter is glorious, as is the meats and the bread section and the dutch bakery – almond-filled cakes and biscuits of which I am a very big fan.
I have tried not to go out to sample the food that the city has to offer, but I can’t resist. Amongst the deluge of cafés and restaurants, of all types of cuisine, it feels wantonly shameful to ignore the smells and outside tables filled with people drinking beer and wine and eating the good fodder. So I tried a few.
It has to be said that the prices of food surprises me. There seems to be an all-round level of cost for the ‘main meal’. You add, on top of that, some compliments and you are looking at 25 to 35 Euro meals. For a humble Northerner, I am not very used to this. I want my curry cafés. Oh, but I found ChinaTown, on a street called Zeedijk near Centraal Station. Apart from the Chinese grocery stores, I have seen a few shops selling freshly made ToFu and other delicacies including some Dim Sum such as ‘Law Bak Go’. My Grandma used to make this at home. It’s turnip cake. It might sound weird but it’s the tastiest thing. I feel at home. They speak Cantonese too. Phew.