In no particular order, but just make sure you try them! I’m sure there are a lot more but these are the ones I got the chance to taste:
Patatje Oorlog – this literally translates to “war fries”. They are fries topped with mayo, sate peanut sauce, and chopped raw onions. I tried the ones at Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx. They also have it at Manneken Pis, but I didn’t have the war fries there since I wasn’t a huge fan of the patatje oorlog.
Raw herring – it’s not technically raw – it’s been salted. The Dutch have been eating this for over 600 years. One of the most well-known places to get it at is Frens Haringhandel. They say you’re supposed to just throw it down the hatch, aka eat the fish whole by holding it by the tail, but the place I tried it at had cut it into pieces. Even if they left it whole, I don’t think I could have done it. It tasted extremely fishy. The raw onions and pickles did help cut the fishiness a bit but it still wasn’t enough. I’ve read that raw herring has been used as a hangover cure. Honestly, if I had to eat this while hungover, I think it would make me feel even sicker.
FEBO – these are walls of vending machines that dispense greasy, mainly fried snack foods. You’ll find croquettes, croquette sandwiches, and burgers. They also have a counter (with a live person) selling soft drinks and french fries. The food is definitely not good but that’s not what FEBO is about. To me, FEBO is about ending a great night of drinking/smoking, laughing with your friends, while eating an oily snack food you probably wouldn’t normally eat if you were sober. Or I could just be completely wrong and it’ll turn out that the Dutch actually hate FEBO and it’s more for tourists…
Cheese – there are just too many different cheeses to name. Walk into any cheese shop and you find an ample of free samples. Truffle, pesto, peppercorn, the list goes on and on. You’re bound to find a flavor you like. And of course, if you just like plain, old-fashioned cheese, they’ve got that as well. The Amsterdam Cheese Museum is a good place to check out. They sell cheese upstairs and they have a free (small) museum downstairs. Also worth visiting are Albert Cuypmarkt and the Henri Willig shops. Did you know gouda cheese is from the town, Gouda in the Netherlands? It’s about an hour train ride away. I didn’t get a chance to check it out on this trip but hopefully next time!
Rijstaffel – this literally translates to “rice table”. The tradition originated from back in the Dutch East Indies days. They consist of small, Indonesian side dishes served with some rice. The food in each dish has different textures, and range from mild to spicy. Or in Tempo Doeloe’s case, mild to almost inedibly spicy. There are a lot of rice table places you can choose from in Amsterdam. We went with Tempo Doeloe because my friend, Anthony Bourdain (or at least we’re friends in my mind) had dined there on one of his TV shows. Trying rijstaffel is definitely a unique and wonderful experience because you get to taste all of these different flavors in one sitting.
Bitterballen – this is fried gravy. It was disgusting – at least the one I had at Spanjer en van Twist was. The gravy tasted chunky and goopy. Overall, it was greasy and it made me feel like a greasy bear after eating it. I’m sure there are better places to have bitterballen. They even have a bitterballen bar at Foodhallen. But after my experience at Spanjer, I’ve been scarred for life and I never want to eat bitterballen ever again.
Stamppot – this is a traditional Dutch dish that is made of mashed potatoes mixed with some type of vegetable or fruit. The one I tried at Haesje Claes was made of mashed potatoes and cabbage. It definitely tasted like it had more cabbage than potatoes because there was a really sulphuric taste to it. The gravy it came with did help cut that taste a bit. I can see how stamppot could be a comfort food, but I’m not a fan.
Croquettes – or kroketten are foods rolled in breadcrumbs (usually mashed potatoes and could be filled with some type of meat) and then fried. You’ll find them in pretty much any Dutch restaurant. They’re really good because they’re usually fried to a golden brown perfection. Just be careful not to eat too many or the grease will definitely get to your stomach!
Rookworst – a sausage made of ground meats and spices. A common place to get one at is HEMA, which is similar to a Target. It’s inexpensive, and it tastes that way. If you find a good place for a rookworst, let me know!
Appeltaart – or more simply known as apple pie. Now, I’m not usually a fan of apple pie because I hate cooked fruits, especially apples. But the one that we had at Winkel 43 was probably the best apple pie I’ve ever had in my entire life. Granted, I didn’t eat the apples and Ben had some extra apples on his plate (don’t know how it got there), but the sauce from the apples and crust were perfect. Topped with some fresh whipped cream, it couldn’t have gotten any better. They really set the bar for American Thanksgivings.
Kibbeling – or more simply put, fried fish. The fish is usually whiting, cod, or pollack.
Poffertjes – small, fluffy pancakes. They differ from American pancakes because poffertjes are spongier. But one thing they do have in common is the giant slab of butter it’s served with.
Stroopwafel – two balls of dough are pressed into two very thin waffles. A caramel-like filling is then spread in between the two in order to glue them together.
Jenever – Dutch gin. It’s what gin was evolved from and has a very strong juniper flavor. The proper way to drink it is to lean over the bar and take your first sip before picking up the glass.