When it comes to Dutch cuisine, many expats living in the Netherlands would say that these lowlands fall fairly flat. Even Dutch people find it curious how a country that conquered the world’s spice trade didn’t manage to introduce spices into Dutch foods. However, the lack of exotic flavors shouldn’t deter you from tucking into the gastronomic delights on offer in the picturesque land of windmills.
The history Dutch cuisine
They say that art imitates life, and this is certainly true of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh’s famous early masterpiece, The Potato Eaters (De Aardappeleters). Completed in 1885, the painting depicts peasants gathered around a table eating potatoes. Indeed, this would have been an accurate scene in the Netherlands from the 1500s to the early 1900s. For the average person, Dutch cuisine during this time consisted primarily of porridge, bread, and potatoes. In fact, by the 1800s, Dutch people ate potatoes with every meal, seven days a week!
Dutch food today
Later on, in the twentieth century, young women in the Netherlands began attending schools that focused on domestic work. Here, they learned how to cook simple meals based on traditional Dutch foods which resulted in more uniformity in Dutch cuisine. The schools also emphasized frugality and nutrition. This commitment to simple, healthy eating has remained a hallmark of Dutch cuisine, even into the 21st century. Oxfam’s “Good Enough to Eat” index even ranked the Netherlands as the number one country in the world for having the most plentiful, affordable, and nutritious diet. It even beat Switzerland and France, which ranked second. The Netherlands is also a world leader in agricultural exports and exported €94.5 billion worth of agricultural goods, such as eggs, meat, dairy, and produce, in 2019. Colonization and immigration have also helped shaped Dutch cuisine. The Dutch ruled Indonesia as a colony from 1800 to 1949. As a result, Dutch-Indonesian fusion recipes have come to be considered national dishes throughout the country. Suriname is another former Dutch colony that introduced its unique flavors to the Netherlands.
The Dutch diet
A 2016 report by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, or Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) found that the Dutch are among the top three European consumers of beverages, dairy products, snacks and desserts, sugar, and fats. The government overseer of public health and the environment also found that the Dutch typically eat six or seven times a day; including two or three snacks in between meals. Moreover, Dutch people tend to eat at home and 70% of families with children have dinner together daily, which is perhaps not surprising given the high regard for family time in the Netherlands.
Want to try the Dutch cuisine?
The Dutch Expat Shop has a variety of different snacks and fooditems from the Netherlands for you to enjoy worldwide. Do you want to try out the Dutch cuisine yourself? Order all kinds of Dutch food today at the Dutch Expat Shop and enjoy!