Dutch food is hearty, simple and satisfying. Breakfast usually includes cocoa or tea, juice, porridge or cold cereal and a sandwich. Cheese, cold meats, peanut butter and jam and even chocolate sprinkles - hagelslag - are popular sandwich fillings. Midmorning is time for a cup of fine Dutch coffee and a snack, perhaps boterkoek, a biscuit-like cake, or a speculaas cookie.

Lunch may be hot soup or a salad and a sandwich like the egg-topped open-face uitsmijter. Working people can buy inexpensive lunches at shops called broodjeswinkels. Fast food favourites include french fries with mayonnaise or meat croquettes. By 3 or 4 p.m., it's time for tea or coffee and a slice of cake.

Traditional Dutch dinners feature meat or fish, vegetables and boiled potatoes. Soups and stews are popular in winter. Erwtensoep is a pea soup made with sausage or pork. A beef stew called hutspot comes with sharp mustard and pickles. Substantial stamppot mixes boiled vegetables and potatoes mashed with milk and butter. It usually accompanies braised beef. Boerenkool combines kale and smoked sausage.

Fish is an important dish in this maritime country. Raw herring is a particular favourite, dipped in chopped onions or with toast. Smoked eel is a treat, too. Dutch cheese is popular at home and abroad. Edam and Gouda are two of many varieties.

Food in the Netherlands is becoming more international. Chinese and Italian dishes are popular. The Indonesian rijsttafel (rice table), an elaborate meal of about twenty different curry and rice dishes, has become a Dutch classic.

The Dutch are known for the quality of their coffee and their beer. Strong Dutch gin, called jenever, is served in a small glass full to the brim. The "young" gin is white and the aged gin is amber-coloured and tastes smoother.

Flensjes (Dutch pancakes)


250 g all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
500 ml milk
2 tbsp butter or margarine


Mix flour and salt. Make a small hole in the middle of the mixture and place the eggs in it. Gradually stir in eggs, then gradually stir in milk. Melt fat in nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and add enough batter just to cover the pan thinly. Tilt the pan so the batter spreads. When the bottom is browned, flip pancake and brown the other side. Stack pancakes on a warm plate. Fill with apples, diced and simmered in butter with currants, cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll pancakes around filling and sprinkle with icing sugar.