Surviving street food

Should you find yourself in need of a snack whilst out and about, there are a number of typically Dutch food items that any newcomer should try at least once.

Nieuwe haring
This is the first young herring of the season suitable to eat, caught from around mid May to mid July. The first batch is celebrated each year in Scheveningen. It’s served raw with diced raw onions: dip the fish in the onions first, then hold it in the air by its tail, and eat headfirst. Or you could eat it in a bread roll, if you find that more palatable. At the fixed fish market in Delft they cost €2 each, or 6 for €10. At the Thursday market visit Simonis, who won first prize in 2016 for the best herring in the Netherlands in the famous Algemeen Dagblad (AD) taste test. “Without doubt the best herring of 2016,” said AD. The Dutch having been eating it for hundreds of years, and if that doesn’t sell it to you, rumour has it it’s a good hangover cure too.

Continuing the fishy theme, kibbeling is also a must try. It’s battered, deep fried nuggets of fish. Typically made from cod cheeks, kabeljauwwang became kibbeling over the years, but due to increasing prices other white fish is commonly used now, such as hake or pollock. It rarely states what sort of fish was used. Usually served with a mayonnaise–based tartar sauce. At Simonis, 250g costs €3.50, or you can get 500g for €6.50.

These are deliciously sweet treats. Two wafer–thin waffles sandwiched with caramel in the middle. Packages are sold everywhere from supermarkets to gift shops to the markets, and cost just a couple of euros. The markets are a great place to try them. At Delft’s Thursday market you can get an extra–large stroopwafel for €1.30, or a bag of kruimels (crumbs) for €0.50. They are best enjoyed with a hot drink: place the stroopwafel over the top of the cup like a lid, wait until the caramel in the middle starts to melt, then consume when it’s nice and gooey.

Erwtensoep (snert)
This thick pea soup often comes with sliced sausage in it and rye bread on the side topped with katenspek, bacon that has been cooked and then smoked. A good winter warmer.

Also available from street vendors are kroketten, often served in a bread roll with mustard. These cylinder–shaped snacks are a meat–based ragout deep fried in breadcrumbs. Beef, veal or veggie versions are available. It’s best not to question exactly what they contain. Whilst this sounds dreadful, they actually don’t taste too bad at all, especially after a few drinks. A truly Dutch phenomenon is the automatic vending machine with a range of hot snacks behind closed glass doors: pop in a coin, open the door of your choice, take out a warm kroket. Smullers at Delft train station offers snacks like this ‘from the wall’ with the motto ‘what you see is what you get’. Similar to kroketten are bitterballen, smaller bite–sized balls, commonly served in bars and cafes.

Plates of bite–sized fluffy pancakes, made in special pans, and typically served with butter and icing sugar or syrup. Often found at cafes and, during the winter, at street stalls too.

These are spring rolls, introduced here due to the colonial link with Indonesia, and sold by street vendors all over the country for around a euro each. There’s usually a meat and veggie variety, served with sweet and sour sauce. You can often buy them to take home and cook yourself too.

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