Q: Hello Peter! Welcome back to VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous. Can you tell us about some of the most typical Dutch food?
A: In Vietnam, you’d love to eat Pho or something hot and soupy. In the Netherlands, it’s something opposite, we don’t want anything hot, and we want something dry and cold. Well, it doesn’t mean that hot food is not delicious, it’s just a difference. We eat sandwiches, bread, butter, some kind of deli and slices, whether it’s sliced meat or cheese.
Q: Cheese? How popular is cheese in the Netherlands?
A: We eat more cheese than anybody else in the world. We’re huge consumers of cheese. People might say France is the cheese country, I will say with 100% certainty that we’re more of the cheese country. You can find cheese everywhere. We eat a lot of cheese, not melted cheese but cold kinds of cheese. We’ll make something cold like Tosti- pressed ham and cheese sandwich. We have a coffee for breakfast.
| Alkmaar Cheese Market (Photo: bestofamsterdam.com)
Q: I’m surprised that cheese is more than just a daily type of food in Holland. If I want to taste the most authentic Dutch cheeses where should I go?
A: Cheese is probably one of the biggest export products. If you think of Gouda, go to place like Okmere, maybe 20 miles north of Amsterdam, they have a big cheese market, they bring cheese to the big square in the city and lay it out. That’s traditional but cheese is practically anywhere. Same thing with Edam cheese. We don’t necessarily have cheese with every meal. But you usually have it with your breakfast, eat it with either bread or by itself. It’s so worldwide. You can find Gouda cheese in Vietnam, in Lotte or even when you go to Fivimart.
Q: That’s breakfast, right? So what about lunch and dinner?
A: For lunch, it’s generally the same as for breakfast, exactly the same meals. It’s not very common to eat something else other than sandwiches. And only in the evening you have a hot meal. At dinner, we have dishes like Stampot, Hurspot, Boere Worst, which is a big sausage, Blomkool, which is cabbage or cauliflower. Of course if you have potatoes you really need some gravy on them. But if you ask a standard Dutch person what they’d like to eat, their diets or the thing they’d like to eat on a daily basis, it could be varied. I don’t know any Dutch people that only eat Dutch food every single day. It could be Stampot on Monday, then Spaghetti on Tuesday and maybe Chinese takeout on Wednesday, and maybe Indonesian food. We have so many different cultures in our country that we just don’t settle for one dish. When I was still living there, I literally ate Chinese, Suomi, Japanese food, Indonesian, like sate, gado gado, nasi goring, fried rice. We also have Turkish food, like doner kebab, lots of places that sell kebab, then you have American food as well: hamburgers. There are so much choice out there, so much variety in terms of food, which is quite nice.
Q: Good to know that you have a diverse range of food in the Netherlands. Does that mean eating out is a regular thing?
A: I cook by myself. The restaurants are expensive, and we like cooking. Most of my friends love cooking, sharing food, and sharing ideas. Sometimes I’ll cook for my wife when I have time. My wife is usually home before I am and she doesn’t need to go to work every day. So I would say 5 days out of 7 she will be the one cooking. But then at weekends, whenever I have time, I’ll cook. We’ll spend effort cooking nice things.
Some of the most popular Dutch beer brands (Photo: almering.com)
Q: Eating habits can be varied in different parts of a country, just like Northern and Southern parts of Vietnam. Is it the same in the Netherlands?
In different parts of Holland they have different pastry dishes in Limburg, which is the south-eastern province of the Netherlands. They have something called Vlaai, and Vlaai is a type of cake, not cheese cake, it’s sweet and delicious, kind of a pudding inside a cake. There is something that is different: we have a lot of beer, every region has its own beer. Heineken and Amstel beer are the two commercial beers that we have, both are from Amsterdam. We also have a lot of local beer like Hertog Jan, Bavaria, Dommelsch, each region has its own.
Q11: Thank you, Peter, for the talk today! I’ll hopefully catch you next time for more cultural differences between Vietnam and the Netherlands. For now, goodbye!