The term ‘Dutch cuisine’ once tended to inspire peals of laughter. But well-travelled chefs have returned home to apply their lessons to fresh local, and often organic, ingredients. Transcending its setting on a land best suited to spuds, cabbages, carrots and cows, the nation is now employing its greenhouses to grow an array of ingredients.
But visitors should still take advantage of the traditional grub (the carrots taste all the better when you know that 17th-century Dutch royalists grew them for their orange colour).
Fish, gruel and beer formed the trinity of the medieval diet. But during the Golden Age, the rich indulged in hogs and pheasants, although apparently only after having these table-groaning meals painted for posterity – as the Rijksmuseum attests. But it was with Napoleonic rule at the dawn of the 19th century that the middle classes were seduced by innovations like herbs, spices and the radical concept that overcooking is bad.
If you prefer to stroll, here are a few tips. Rocket salad grows like weed in IJburg. Go to the Pijp if you crave econo-ethnic. Cruise Haarlemmerstraat, Utrechtsestraat, Nieuwmarkt, the ‘Nine Streets’ area and Reguliersdwarsstraat if you want something posher; and only surrender to Leidseplein – though we note some worthy exceptions – if you don’t mind being overcharged for a cardboard steak and day-old sushi.
Sure, check out the posh places, but quality and economic snack opportunities can be found in the form of fish, rolled ‘pizzas’ from Turkish bakeries, Dutch broodjes (sandwiches) from bakers and butchers, and spicy Surinamese broodjes from ‘Suri-Indo-Chin’ snack bars. And you really should visit an Albert Heijn supermarket to get an insight into Dutch eating habits
Café Américain, Amsterdam
Situated in the heart of the centre, overlooking the Leidse Square, or Leidseplein, the famous Art Deco Café Américain is inviting you for breakfast, lunch, dinner, high tea, Sunday Jazz brunch, or just for coffee and cakes at the reading table
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