I leave in two days for Amsterdam, and I have to say that I am definitively in the pre-travel anxiety phase. It is during this phase that I read and research as much as I can about any given area, and pick and choose the things I wish to do on my journey. It is also during this phase that I am most apt to buy travel guides that I will use for about a day or two, using them to compile one of my own.
Depending upon the travel guides, food may or may not be mentioned and recommendations on what to eat seem a tad tentative. Restaurant recommendations that were worthwhile when the book was written may be hopelessly out of date by the time it is read by the general public. Better recommendations are types of foods to search out, and then using the Internet to find the best examples of said foods.
As I am moderately organized when I travel, I have compiled a list of foods that I want to seek out while in The Netherlands. There are as follows:
Beer: From all accounts, the Dutch have an appreciation for beer that’s second only to Belgians, but without that pesky provincialism that can color an aficionado’s worldview. Yes, pils is still the beer du jour, and yes, Heineken does have a firm group on the tourist trade in Amsterdam (yes, I’m doing the tour), but with Belgium literally right down the train line, and Germany right down the river, there should be ample selection of a vast variety of beer.
Haring: Or in English – herring. I believe it’s out of season, so it is unlikely that I will get any fresh, but part of me would love to swallow some with pickles and onions. Any suggestions on where and how I can get some would be most appreciated.
Rijstafel: From what I’ve read, this is the food item that chowhounds need to search out whilst in Amsterdam. Rijstafel translates to “rice table” and essentially means a meal of rice and several tapas sized courses of food that happen to pare quite nicely with the grain. Indonesian in origin, Amsterdam finds itself with several restaurants with this approach thanks to their past dealings with the Southwestern Asian country.
Erwtensoep: Yeah, it’s pea soup. But part of me thinks I should search out this dish, especially if it’s served with fresh rye bread and smoked bacon. Especially as the weather is bound to be near freezing for most of my stay.
Ethnic Restaurants: It’s a large European city with a fair amount of immigrants from across the world. That’s a recipe for great restaurants that show the best of cuisines from other lands.
Cheese: Gouda and Edam are Dutch cheeses. Need I say more?
Brown Cafes: Essentially the Dutch version of pubs, these are the places to hang out, have a drink or two, and a small bite to eat. As most of the two weeks are going to be spent either reading or writing, I expect to spend some time at a good brown cafe doing exactly that. If karma shines on me, perhaps I can check off a few of the other items on this list whilst hanging out.
Chocolate: Everyone seems to know about Belgian Chocolates, but the Dutch have their own traditions with the bean. I plan on doing a fair amount of compare and contrast.
Licorice: I am typically not a big fan of licorice, but everyone tells me that I shouldn’t give up on the sweet until I’ve had a good Dutch licorice. I am willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt and test their experiences against my own. And salted licorice sounds odd enough to pique my interest even further.
Oliebollen: Literally “oil balls”, these are the Dutch version of doughnuts that are typically found around the Holidays. This is a must for me.
Jenever: Americans are used to London Gin, but in truth, the drink has its roots with the Dutch.
Anything else I should search out.
(additionally: Thanks to you all for the many recommendations of places to visit while across the Atlantic. I plan to hit as many of them as I can, and you should see the result of that on this site.)