If you’ve ever worked in a Dutch workplace, you’ve probably been tricked convinced at least once to chip in a few euros and share a communal lunch.  Yes, the peer pressure was probably hard to resist, and yes, some colleague made a snarky remark about you being “not Dutch enough” which made you begrudgingly throw your 2 euros into the pot…BUT you should have been wiser. You should have know that the words “Dutch” and “lunch” always lead to disappointment.

The communal lunch you “enjoyed” most likely involved eating bread smeared with some indiscernible lumpy matter that people kept confusingly referring to as “salade” or “filet“.

There is no way around it: Dutch lunch is a sad sorry affair. It involves a lot of dairy, a lot of bread, and a lot of smearing. For a country lacking in culinary creativity, the Dutch are actually incredibly creative in the “spread department”. They have turned all sorts of perfectly edible food into lumpy,  blended goo. Of course, you have your standard egg salad or tuna salad but the Dutch have kicked it up a notch and made all sorts of new gooey concoctions. Why not try some “kip sate salade” (pureed chicken and peanut sauce -pictured above), “garnalen knoflook salade” (blended shrimp and garlic) or some “farmersalade” (blended farmer??). All of these treats involve copious amounts of mayonnaise just to make sure you are actually consuming 99% fat and 1% goodness.

Dutch lunch

Yummy, what spread shall we have today?

If these salades are not your cup of tea, well you’ve always got your trusty selection of smeerkaas to fall back on. (Any female native English-speaker will tell you that the word ‘smear’ should only be reserved for the dreaded annual doctor’s appointment…and certainly not in the context of cheese!)

Oh, smearcheese isn’t your thing either? Well, have no fear my dear friend, I’ve saved the best for last: Filet Americain!!! Filet americain is the quintessential nasty Dutch spread. Hungry? Just take a juicy handful of raw beef or horse meat, throw it into a blender, add some seasoning, maybe a bit of onions and blend away until it’s a smooth raw pink paste and then happily smear it on your bread.

Yes, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction: the Dutch do indeed like love this stuff! Eat up! Anyone in the mood for parasites, with a side of E.Coli and Salmonella? Yum!

UPDATE: We now have proof that Dutch lunch is not only boring, it can actually be dangerous!

Dutch Lunch

A Dutchie’s perfect lunch!

239 Responses

  1. Irving

    You frequent the “Randstad” too much.
    Go get yourself a nice ‘broodje’ in the South…..there they know how to make ‘belegde broodjes’!

    • Richard Omea

      If what you mean is one slice of kaas so thin you can read het Financiele Dagblad thru it with a slime of margarine on a white bread or wheat bun puffed up with 40% air? No thanks !! 😉

      • vandercoelen

        No he didn’t. He meant a good bun (e.g. Italian style) with some lettuce a lot of meat/cheese/other and some dressing. So you don’t need to eat until dinner.

      • jan klaasen

        Yeah, it ain’t much if it ain’t Dutch

    • Petah!

      We Dutch people are really bad at lunch…. Me and my family are from the Zeeland (not the new one but the old one) and my parents always talk about the lunches they receive when doing business in Belgium and how bad the lunches are when the business people from Belgium come to Holland. A regular lunch is mainly based on bread and the smearing stuff 🙂 A good lunch in Holland includes a “kroket” (something like fried stew with a crispy layer) and soup. If a lunch gets bigger than that it almost doesn’t count as a lunch according to Dutch standards. By the way I base my opinion on a regular base kind of setting (so what Dutch people would eat on a regular base).

      I lived in Asia for a small period of time and I still miss the food! (although rice 3 times a day is a lot!). Most of all I miss the lunches: Proper rice or noodles with a proper curry. I miss the food so much, I booked a ticked while typing this message. I have to go, can’t even finish my sent…

    • Kare O.

      I live in the south, food is bad tasteless and lots of bread, a very sad and diappointing lunch… every time

      • Dutchie

        And yet, the Dutch are some of the tallest people in the world. I miss real bread the most here in the USA (the Americans love their “fabriek’s brood” yuck). One of the first things I eat when I’m back is a sneetje volkoren brood met belegen kaas. LEKKER!

      • Ridwan

        Yes, I second that. I am Dutch and our standard lunches are horrible. Even people in the high income groups have the infamous ‘boterham’ for lunch. A big shame for such a wealthy country.

  2. Island girl

    When I was in NL visiting my Aunt and cousin I was served this for lunch on bread. Ew! I also noticed their large selection of ‘spreads’ in the grocery store laced with tons of mayonnaise. But, remember the Dutch know about healthy eating habits!

  3. Sandra Öhrling

    Yeh the south is the best, specially when you go by Bufkes restaurant. Damm i miss the south!!! and filet americain!!! Don’t have that here in Sweden 🙁

  4. Laura

    I begrudgingly admit that I put my American squeamishness and paranoia aside for filet americain. I LOVE filet americain, tapeworms and E. coli risks be damned. Onions, mayo, and raw seasoned beef FTW!

    • Dutchman Henk

      Funny thing is, filet American isn’t American and it isn’t even Dutch. It originates from Belgium.
      Also there is something else a bit off in this article (and other ones). I get the feeling the writer almost only is writing about things he has seen in the Randstad (Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the like). These broodsalades/breadspreads come in 3 kinds, the cheap and ultra cheap factory mass made stuff and the stuff the butcher makes (ambachtelijk). The real stuff is 100times better and isn’t one big mush of blended crap. The price difference is there for a reason, ambachtelijk made products can be 3 times as expensive or even more.

    • Peter

      Beef and horsemeat don’t have parasites. That’s pig.
      Bacteria may be present in beef but then you’d better find a better butcher as those stem from fecal contamination after slaughter.
      And don’t forget steak tartare, carpaccio, ossenworst, Tiger Meat, etc.
      Full list on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Raw_beef_dishes

  5. Lola

    Why dont you check out what the germans call Mett, talking about raw meat and micro organisms…

    • alexandrasfotos

      While I miss my Filet American very much, I’ve tried the Mett. Noooooooo thank you. That just doesn’t even come close. (But I get your point. Concerning fact: it is suppose to be raw, however it will still be good until well into the next month??)

  6. Lynn

    Huh…? What happened to the broodje kroket? Broodje bal? Broodje gezond?
    Well, you can always fall back on a muisjes-sandwich 😉

    • Wilhelmina jaffe

      And don’t forget brood met cocolade vlokken, tartaar, warm vlees en zo blijf ik door gaan. We Dutch in America miss all that stuff. Any one for warme worst van de Hema?

  7. Joke/Yoka

    Whatever happened to broodje haring, broodje half om, broodje gezond? How come Holland sank so low in the lunch department??!!

  8. mieze

    i’m hoping for a zure zult review 😀 even must dutch find it too extreme ;D

    • olberon

      ahahah if you read about that stuff, you will love the spreads (i love my spreads and my cheese hell im a sucker for filet american) that stuff is nasty +4

  9. Daniëlle Suurlant

    I’m very very Dutch, and I very very much hate these typically Dutch spreads! They’re gooey and lumpy at the same time, ewww. And so smelly too! Anything that doesn’t contain big visible greens isn’t a salad, and anything that doesn’t actually look like a filet isn’t filet!

    • Christel

      I agree!
      I think these spreads are not very tastefull unless you like sugar, fat and additives.

      • J

        Exactly. The only good spread is hummus, and that’s nothing Dutch 🙂

      • OrangeBo

        If you don’t min me filling that in for ya: Born and raised on the platteland, eating stamppot everyday ( and if not eating stamppot then veggies, potatoes and a little piece of meat) and owning more than one bike.
        You’re average day will look like this: Getting up, take a shower for less than 6 minutes (not for the environment, but for the benefits of your wallet), having breakfast with a black strong coffee and a bruine boterham with cheese whilst reading the volkskrant, then going to work by bike, riding over the dikes past the tulipfields even though the wind is full force and it’s raining as if there is no tomorrow. At work you have lunch eating the exact same thing as you did for breakfast, and afterwards when you’re going home by bike ofcourse the wind turned so you have wind tegen again. When at home dinner is served at 6 and in the evening you watch lingo and the nos journaal on tv.
        Going to a bar means sitting on a barstool drinking Heineken or Grolsch talking about either 1: the weather 2: football or 3: how bad the weather was when you were playing / watching football. Afterwards you split the bill paying exactly what you ordered and not a stuiver more.

        Thats the most dutch you can get, and as a dutch girl I can say: thats way to dutch for me…

      • circleofjoycey

        Ik voeg nog onder het epistel van OrangeBo onder toe: and finding this very very “gezellig” hahahahaha

      • Pin Sip

        @OrangeBo that’s a perfect description! I actually like the Dutch ways, I even work in the Johma salad factory since one month (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT). The salads are so tasty, even the workers munch on them and the factory smells like a fresh kitchen.

  10. Simon

    Those things are reserved for the snobby Dutch who think they have a varied and healthy diet. Those are the people who made cooking their hobby, have a kookeiland in their vinex-woning and try a new recipe every week, but still call and margarine “butter” and make “coffee” with a senseo. Most Dutch people don’t eat that stuff and just smear pindakaas or appelstroop on bread. Or they use the cheese slicer for their boeren belegen kaas. And how about hagelslag and gestampte muisjes? Maybe still disappointing, but not that nasty and a lot of fun to vary.

    • Stefmanovic

      And still that is no worthy lunch man! Bread with hagelslag or some thin slice of rather tasteless cheese?

      • Khana

        how about bread with pindakaas and hagelslag on top? 😀 *love it*
        Besides, I think the Dutch just hate lunch.. When I hear how long lunch time is for other countries, we have short ones! I think longest one I had was 30 minutes and shortest was 15.. So we don’t really have that much time to eat a ‘proper’ lunch anyway. We need to stay productive! *waves fist* Lol 😀

      • Stefmanovic

        @Khana: Bread with pindakaas and hagelslag is ok, but nothing spectacular. I don’t think the Dutch just hate lunch, I think they hate eating in general. They only do it because the human body requires calories and nutrients. Any meal is just devouring tons of carbohydrates (be it bread or potatoes) with some crap besides it to give the illusion of taste. Preferably no talk during eating so the time that is being wasted by eating stays at a minimum.

    • busydarling

      Like any of those are really any better!! Most Dutch people I know do eat that stuff regardless of where they live.

      • Pete

        Try bread and crunchy peanut butter with a sprinkle of kruidenaromat. Or bread + cpb + a lick of honey + a sprinkle of kruidenaromat.


  11. MarcelinNZ

    here in New Zealand I’ve ‘educated them’ on sugar on toast or fresh bread. Also squashed strawberries with added sugar! It’s where the letters WTF? came from, I shit you not : )

  12. Judith

    While reading this post I seriously am munching away a cracotte with kip saté and one with old cheese, but, I hesitated between a cheese cracker or one with filet. It must be aquired taste but I absolutely love filet american and I dearly missed it when I was pregnant. It was the first thing I ate after my epi-free (of course, I am dutch) deliveries of my kids. 😉

  13. Frank D

    Never ever been diagnosed with ecoli or any other parasites..grew up with eating Filet Americain once a week ( weekly treat kids on Saturday, yay Thursday Haring on buns when it was market day) now when I go back to the old country I make sure I get my fill of Americain (ha) and of course a lunch of Broodje Haring (no onions, you’ll be eating those all day)

  14. martetatin

    I love your blog, the way you write always gets the point perfectly and it makes me feel so embarrassed of being Dutch haha. I can totally imagine how you would be disgusted by a lot of our (eating) habits, and on this one I also have to agree with you: some kind of processed stuff (there’s nothing natural about it) with a lot of flavor and color enhancers smeared on a piece of bread that is probably already a couple of days old.. no thanks!

    • Johnny Knox

      Try to eat stuff here inda US…everything is a blend of cultures…nothing authentic unless u go to these mom&pop places with granma in the kitchen, 1st generation immigrants… 😉

  15. Thomas

    I love some sate salad! As a Dutch former chef I don’t agree with the Dutch not having culinary creativity though. The eating culture is much more sophisticated and developed than in North American countries!

    • Frank

      The food in the Netherlands is extremely disappointing. Especially coming from South Africa where there are amazing restaurants everywhere you look. If you go to a restaurant in Holland, the ingredients are poor quality and the food is poorly prepared. If you are after a nice meal, go everywhere else in the world before coming to Holland!

      • Nienke

        Then you’ve clearly been to the wrong restaurants. How many have you tried? Coming from a family that goes out for dinner every week (yes, spoiled, for Dutch standards at least) I have to completely disagree with you. Of course there are some bad ones, but there are so many more really really GOOD restaurants in the Netherlands!

      • Thomas

        Definitely been to the wrong places! And even the UK is better? The UK has some of the best restaurants in the world!

        I suggest trying iens.nl to find good restaurants 🙂

      • Meredith

        I got all excited because of Thomas’ suggestion of iens.nl (never heard of it before) to find good restaurants here in NL. Then, I looked at the site and in Eindhoven there are loads of restaurants rated ‘8’ and above!?! Oh, right. Must be locals rating them so high. 😉 Love this blog. Such a riot to read.

  16. Jeffrey Frederiks

    There are many options for the people that want to recognize the stuff they are eating without mayonaise :).You can even get tasty fresh quality sandwiches at the gasstation these days with plenty of non smearable stuff like ham, cheese, salmon, grilled chicken etc. Much better than egg salad 😉

  17. John Smith

    Lunch is awful in the Netherlands. 5 pieces of bread, one slice of cheese, and some sort of wretched mayo-spread? No Thanks!!! Bring on a proper burrito, hamburger, or sandwich any day!

    • Jochem

      Don’t forget that Dutch lunch is basically the same as their breakfast. So a hamburger or burrito would be considered part of a dinner (but probably an unhealthy, weekend dinner).

      However, this post gives the impression that Dutch people only spread stuff on the bread for lunch. This is not true. I’ve only been introduced to this phenomenon when I started working at a company which did communal lunches daily. Before (as a child, in school, at other jobs, etc) I never really ate the spreads (apart from filet americain, which is a Belgian invention, btw). I topped my bread with different types of cheese (slice it yourself and it isn’t thin), all kinds of meat (check out a butchers shop some time) and sometimes some weird sweets (like the lovely pure chocolate hagelslag).

      Sure our lunches consist of just bread topped with usually one type of ingredient, but it isn’t half as bad as this post implies.

      • busydarling

        It’s worse. It’s bad enough to get me kicked out of an eating disorder recovery programme in Holland because I simply could not deal with the ‘boterhammen’…. and that had nothing to do with the anorexia I was being treated for. I asked them to help me recover without forcing cultural eating habits on me, they failed to notice that there are so many healthy options that do not involve sliced bread with something on it that gets boring after two bites. And that twice a day every fucking day.
        To be enjoyed with milk or chocolate milk if you didn’t like milk…. but they had no option for those who belong to the 80% of the world population who are lactose intolerant.

        It’s this bad: the prospect of having the Dutch way of eating forced onto me again is so terrifying I’d rather keep the weight on than risk having to eat ‘boterhammen’ again. It really is THAT BAD. Dutch eating is worse than being fat for an anorexic!

  18. Pat Real

    Thees are in the same category with Vegemite, Which Australians think tastes great… (YUK)

    • Bren

      It does taste great, particularly when combined with cheese on toast! Can’t seem to understand none of my Dutch friends have taken to this particularly tasty combination.

      Fillet Americain – yummo!

  19. Ruben

    Dutch guy here. I think the whole spreading thing is a remnant from the days all Dutch workers took lunch from home to work in a lunch box/Tupperware case (usually prepared by their significant other). It’s still common in a lot of workplaces. Three or four boterhammen, cut and folded. Some with a meat product, cheese or peanut butter, the others with something sweet like jam/jelly or hagelslag. Add one piece of fruit. The spreads you’re showing here are by some actually considered to be “something different” (“Ach ja, weer eens wat anders! Lekker!”). I guess it depends on what they mean by that.

    You should look up some “Debiteuren, Crediteuren” sketches from the nineties show Jiskefet on YouTube. They’re amazing parodies of the old-school office workers that still exist today. Seemingly friendly people on the surface, but they quickly show themselves to be quite narrow-minded, ungrateful, sexist and cowardly…all the while being completely convinced of themselves being good storytellers with a witty sense of humor. Dissecting and judging the lunches their wives have tried to prepare for them is a ritual in all of the “Debiteuren, Crediteuren” sketches.

    Seeing and understanding these sketches is almost essential. Also watch some of Jiskefet’s other recurring sketches like “Lullo’s” about old money frat boys & “Multilul” about marketing people. Loving Jiskefet is classic self-hating Dutch pride. But remember: only the Dutch are licensed to make fun of the Dutch in this way, otherwise they’ll burst into flames with anger 😉

    (I don’t think Filet Americain is Dutch. It’s just a different name for steak tartare. But yeah, we put it on our bread)

  20. Gez

    Hey, leave the salades and filet alone! I love ’em, and I’m a Brit!

  21. Joan

    I really look forward to your blogs as I enjoy a good laugh. I’m Scottish and we are not famous for our food either but I had my eyes opened wide when I came here 2 years ago. Still can’t get my head around breakfast of bread, peanut butter and as I call ‘sprinkles’. Who on earth invented that?? The diet of copious amounts of all things processed and fatty have added 12 kg to my rear and I’m now frantically trying to get rid of it!! Good old ‘fresh’ salad for me with no mush on the side please.

  22. Matt

    The funny thing is, when you choose a “salad” such as the goo described above, they actually think it’s the healthy option, because the alternative, is goo deep fried in the form of a kroket…which I admit, are actually delicious on bread.

  23. vincent

    This post is much over-rated and typicaly American .
    Dutch lunch is not so bad as is discribed.
    Everything “we” or “us europeans” have in the lunch department still beats everything from the USA !!!
    Taste and health wise…
    And that is a world known fact!
    (a country where atleast 70% is overweight … no offence by saying this)
    Before you try to trash(thats how i see it!) “the Dutch” beter get your facts straight about them or take a good look at your own country!


      • Joke/Yoka

        Heel interessant programma!

      • Ju

        I think one of the reasons the Dutch get so cross at newcomers commenting on the (absence of) Dutch cuisine is that, especially when you’re already a little insecure, nobody likes to hear ‘you’re useless and I’m entitled to something sooooo much better but you’ll never catch up anyway’. If you really want to do something about it, show Dutch people how a proper lunch is served instead of rubbing it in!

    • Alexandra

      To my observation, most of europeans have warm meal on their plates for lunch;)

      • Stefmanovic

        I remember how sorry the Germans felt for us when I was in Berlin and told them we have sandwiches for lunch.

    • Stefmanovic

      I always find it cute (and hilarious) how defensive Dutch people get when you ‘attack’ their ‘culinary culture’! 😛

    • Pepin

      I have lived in Canada, the US and the NL… and I am not from any of these countries. I can tell you that Holland has by far the worst lunch habits I have ever seen. And this can be extended to eating in general.
      Sure you can get fat in the US but you can also get the finest meat and vegetables around the corner. This is not the case in the NL where finding a good steak is almost impossible. And I won’t even mention the rest… Supermarkets are really poor.
      Oh and btw… I would not dare to compare a good American burger with a broodje kroket!

    • Bises de Paris

      Ooh, looks like a Dutch person is insulted here..! “Us, Europeans”? The Netherlands is the only country I can think of where slices of bread are considered the only option as a lunch meal. And I cannot think of anything less inspiring than slices of bread.

      Yes, the US have nutrition problems, but the problem is much more related to bad ingredients rather than the original American cuisine. I agree that you shouldn’t eat a burger every day, but a well prepared burger with salad and fries is a lot tastier than a sandwich with some goo on it!

  24. Richard

    Chopped American with pepper and union is the best!! But don’t consume it more than 2 days after opening.

  25. Renée Pinky Shortz

    I actually like some of the salads, but more komkommer and farmer salads (and they aren’t “blended” like the other ones). I love filet americain. I have never once EVER been sick from filet and I’ve lived here in NL for almost 19 years. I do think the Dutch could eat more than just boterhammen, but hey, I am not a bread person (the horror! I know!). It’s getting better; we have much more choice these days in the cantine. I’ll stick with a maaltijdsalade, dankjewel!

    you want to talk gross (Dutch) foods… let’s discuss the frikadel!!!

    • Michael

      No don’t discuss frikadel, just pass me a bucket.

      • busydarling

        Yup, agreed. I was 11 when I tried it for the first (and last) time. My only thought: this is what fried cock must taste like. I was 11!

  26. matxil

    As a matter of fact personally, living in Barcelona, one of the things I missed most in the first years, were the Dutch lunches.
    But then I found out about the Mayorcan “sobrasada” which, actually, is quite a bit like “filet americain” and tastes great on bread. It’s even better on top of bread and cheese (because as a good Dutch person, I find everything is better when some bread and cheese gets involved). In Catalunya, they call that combination “Mallorquin” (“Mayorcan”).
    By the way, you forgot to mention the appropriately named “sandwich spread”, which is a lot of vegetables (and mayonaise no doubt) made to be spread on bread, and it’s great stuff too.
    But, fair enough, you might not like all these wonderful Dutch “spreads”, but even so, you’ll have to admit that none of them comes even close to the unworthly bad taste of “marmite” from Australia.
    Anyway, my compliments for your blog, it’s great fun to read.

  27. Rasa

    As an expat here I also do not like a lot of dutch food: cut, prepared, pre baked, pre boiled etc. They pretend eating healthy but in fact they eat a lot of “E” and dead food. How much vitamins left in boiled carrots? Ha..ha..ha..
    What’s so funny about your mosts of posts – they are completely correct and straight to the point. Only some dutch want to deny it. They are funny 😀 That makes me laugh even more 😀

  28. Francesca

    it’s always a color that doesn’t exist in nature, its always cold, and its never ever lekker!

  29. Rasa

    As an expat here I also do not like a lot of dutch food: cut, prepared, pre baked, pre boiled etc. They pretend eating healthy but in fact they eat a lot of “E” and dead food. How much vitamins left in boiled carrots? Ha..ha..ha..
    What’s so funny about your mosts of posts – they are completely correct and straight to the point. Only some dutch want to deny it. They are funny! That makes me laugh even more .
    Always love to read your blog.

  30. Jaap

    HAHA! Just had lunch in China.. They served me cold duck tong and pig ears… Give me my SMEERKAAS!!!

  31. Richard Omea

    American guy who lived, worked and loves Holland here – a few comments:
    – it only befits the zuinig aspect of Dutch life that these salads contain the least of the most expensive items like shrimp, etc and the most of god-knows what!
    – in Holland (EU overall) food recalls are a slim fraction of what happens in the US so these, tho high on the “EWWWW Factor” are safe. Conversely you would be taking your life in your hands eating such things in the USA where some over 100 million tons of food are recalled every year for e.coli, salmonella, etc .

  32. zinemin

    Yikes! I hate looking at these spreads in the supermarkets, they are so repulsive!
    Another really horrible thing they have here is finely chopped pseudo-“fresh” salad, made from finely chopped onions, olives, zucchini, and celery, that looks pretty good, but tastes horrible, like unclean water with a faint hint of onions. My strong suspicion is that it is bought by restaurants and canteens deep-frozen and than thawed to room temperature.

  33. BH_Canada

    My favourite spread is kip curry. Bright yellow, sold in the grocery store in small containers so there’s no leftover to go bad. Tried to duplicate it here in Canada but it’s tough to do with white, North American style mayo as a base.

    My friends still find it strange that I eat chocolate on bread (Hagel) but I just show them the picture on the box and them that it’s supposed to be eaten this way.

  34. A. Ryan

    Firstly, you truly capture the essence of Dutch lunch, and had me cracking up the whole time I read your post. Bravo! brilliant! Mayonnaise is definitely its own food group here in the NL, at least in Noord Holland. And yes, peer pressure to be a part of the communal lunch is high. Maybe because eating out would be costly for the frugal Dutch? As a Yankee myself, the notion of Filet American also brought visions of flag waving Americans in a gargantuan blender.
    Thanks again for making me feel not so alien!

  35. Lawrence H

    For the Dutch; cooking and eating are interruptions in the workday to be gotten over with as quickly as possible, so as to return to more productive pastimes, None of that French or Italian “lounging about” over a thoughtfully prepared meal.

    • Char

      Funny because lunches at both Dutch offices I have worked at last 45 minutes! And still they work 9 to 5.

  36. Just a person.

    Err lets not go and complain about another country’s gross foods because the things people eat for lunch or as side in the USA are nasty too. Potato or macaroni salad, Chicken or chopped ham salad, egg salad and cole slaw. All made with half a jar of mayonnaise chopped celery and onions and made even more foul if you use that disgusting sweet mayonnaise that’s called miracle whip. (except for cole slaw that is always made with that icky sweet mayo) To be honest, of all those things the Filet American sounds like the best option seeing as there is no mayo in it.

  37. Bastiaan S

    I love the fact that fat foreigners comment on our food consumption. Dutch are the longest, one of the healthiest, happiest and joyfull people in the world and thats due to what we eat too. Our food is made up from douzens of culutres and consists of many tastes and forms. Foreigners just enjoy the huge amount of choice!

    • John Smith

      No need to be so defensive…. Not every place can be perfect. Sure the “Dutch Lunch” is terrible, but there’s so many other wonderful things about the place.

    • busydarling

      You’re so funny, Dutchman!!
      And yes, you’re right: the Dutch are tall. You’re also right: they think they’re one of the healthiest, happiest and most joyful nations… hehe…

    • Stefmanovic

      Yet Italians, on average, tend to live between 5 to 10 years longer than the Dutch. The diet we have here isn’t healthy, it’s filled with fat, fat and more fat. I find it cute how the Dutch make fun of the Americans for their fatty foods, or of the Eastern Europeans for eating pig fat whilst devouring vast amounts of those horrible mayo salads, pretending it’s a fresh salad.

      • tim

        Life expectancy at birth in Italy is 81,95. In the Netherlands it is 81,01.

      • Thomas

        Notging wrong with fat, it’s the processed sugars that makes you fat. Fat, in moderation of course, should be part of any healthy diet.

        Sure there are people who eat those mayo salads, there’s also tons who don’t and eat healthy. Just as in the US there are people who eat healthy and people who don’t. And whilst I myself don’t eat bread at all and not partake in the ‘habits’ described in the post, there’s no doubt about it that when it comes to general healthy ness of lunches, bread with kaas is a lot healthier than a burger.

        Having lived in Canada, I was always surprised how much money people spent each day on lunch & coffees from an (unhealthy) restaurant instead of bringing home made healthy food.

      • Michael

        Yes, but even if Italian food made you live 5 to 10 years shorter than Dutch food, I’d choose to live a bit shorter above all those nasty spreads and processed ‘salads’. Just imagine 80 years of eating frikadel, Calvé-goo, Johma-splodge and industrial mayonnaise.

      • Stefmanovic

        I think you misread my comment. I said that Italians generally live longer than Dutch people.

        Ok, maybe not 5 to 10 years (that’s an insane number I realize), but a ‘mere’ 18 months, which on a demographic level is quite high. Check this article on the BBC about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21690003

      • lagatta à montréal

        I think the slightly-longer Italian lifespan is signficant because Italy is considerably poorer than the Netherlands, and I believe the health system is far worse. And Italians don’t cycle or get other “natural” daily exercise as much as the Dutch do. The “passeggiata” is just a stroll, not a true “walk”.

      • Stefmanovic

        Also count that the living standard in the north of Italy is very different from the south. I doubt the Netherlands has internal differences that big.

        As for the healthcare system, I remember reading a WHO article a while back which put Italy on third place for best medical performance worldwide. The Netherlands was 20th or something along those lines. That article really stuck in my head, because apparently Jamaica was in the top ten of best medical performance! :O

  38. Pauline

    The “smear” part just cracked me up! Smeren is actually just the Dutch verb for “to spread out”, so it makes more sense in that context 🙂 Anyway, love your blog, nobody ever died from a bit of friendly Dutchie-bashing 🙂

    btw I agree, “Filet Amercain” is the nastiest edible stuff invented by man, apart from maybe Vegemite. People don’t call it a roadkill sandwich for nothing, it looks like a dead splattered roadside hedgehog on a bun. Nasty.

  39. Pauline

    Filet Americain IS perfectly ok to eat though. People freak out over the thought of eating raw meat, but it’s fine if it’s fresh and refridgerated and it doesn’t contain porc or chicken (meats that have a higher risk of containing Salmonella etc.)..You can eat a steak raw, this is no different. It just looks horrendous.

      • Stefmanovic

        So Dutch people who buy it can pretend they’re buying something ‘exotic’, which would then show to their friends that they are ‘well travelled’ and ‘above average’, or something along those lines…

      • Sarah

        It has gotten that name in the late fourties/fifties. Stories differ: either it was called that because back then America was the symbol of everything hip and modern, or because the American soldiers stationed here in ’45 liked ‘steak tartare’ so much.

  40. ViewPoint

    It’s my understanding that it’s common for the frugal Netherlanders turn their copious veggies and cheeses and scarce (expensive) meats into pate-like spreads to stretch their use. This is admirable and imaginative, but the texture and taste doesn’t agree with me. I’m a bit of purist, liking each to stand on it’s own merits. So when in the Netherlands, I am quick to order an Uitsmijter (eggs and ham) for lunch with each clearly distinguishable. As for oversight of the food industry, the USA outdoes most countries – hence the quick recalls. (Because of its copious meat supply, it’s also difficult to find fillers such as horsemeat/oils in the food chain in the US.) Netherlanders do live a long life – undoubtedly due to lots of exercise, regular (and non-glutanized) meals, and their large consumption of cruciferous and similar produce. I love this matter-of-fact approach to living a good life. And I hope it doesn’t disappear.

    • Khana

      Non-glutanized?? Have you seen our bread consumption? And how about all the ingredients of the prepared meat we eat? I think about 60% of the food in the supermarket has gluten in it.. And I can know, because I can’t eat them! xD The only meal here that tends not to have gluten is dinner, and then it goes wrong whenever meat gets involved and ‘jus’. Or pasta’s obviously.. And all the prepared sauces, which we are a fan of I think. And all the prepared soups with their balls and ‘vermicelli’. Hell, cornflakes is not even safe! Anyway, the regularness of our meals does help, together with the lots of cylcling.

  41. [email protected]

    Dutch lunch is heaven compared to Dutch “Chinese” food – basically consisting of strange sauces poured over chicken, pork, whatever.

    • AntonLeen

      Usually chinese/indonesian, changed for dutch tastes 😉

  42. Eddie van Boxtel

    You’re wrong about this one!!! But still, keep up the good work! As a former Dutch adventurer (I’m back in The Netherlands now because i figured out this is the best place to live ;)) I love to read about your vision on our habits 🙂

    • Angela

      I 100% agree I do not even bother to call it Chinese food…it is Dutch food but I have to say there are a few good Chinese places to eat…but nothing like I have had in other countries.

  43. Gido

    Well what are you supposed to eat for lunch then? I guess we just don’t know any better.

    • Michael

      Try things like vegetables, meat and fish that actually look like what they once were instead of processed goo-sauce or splat salad from a Johma tub.

  44. Kelly

    Wow. this is quite an eye-opening post. Dutch ‘broodbeleg’ is one of the things I miss since exporting to the UK, especially the assortment of spreads. I still feel they are healthier than all of the pre-packed and processed sandwiches, though. I’ve now resorted to replace my smearing habits with houmous, which is probably just as well, but I do crave some ‘huzarensalade’ or sandwich spread on occasion.

  45. Gerda Haveman

    I eat tartaar and/or filet american often. I make it myself, and thus far I haven’t died from it yet. It’s delicious on sandwiches, on crackers, and actually, I could eat it by the spoon full.

    The Dutch don’t ONLY SPREAD. There are tons of delicious deli meats in Holland. Rookvlees, cervolaat, ham, and many more. I would NOT call the Dutch cheese tasteless at all. Maybe the real mild cheese, but medium and old have a lot of taste, and there is of course spiced cheese, smoked cheese and a variety of others.

    Americans, Canadians, Australians, live on peanutbutter and jam/jelly. Nowadays Nutella seems to be a favorite as well. And then there is Cheez Whiz.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, good old kroketten might be called deep fried goo, but they’re not really. I make them myself and they have a lot of meat in them. I like turkey kroketten the best. Bitterballen, basically round kroketten, smaller, are great made with cheese as well and served with cocktails.

    Before putting a bunch of Dutch food down, look at a lot of the food prepared in the USA, Canada, and other countries, food that gives me the creeps.

    • Dutch ex pat

      Fully agree with you. I lived (in many other countries)and still do outside NL. When I still lived in NL we ate, cheese(cut ourselves), lots of cold sliced meats, peanut butter and Jelly(in the US they “smear” those two both on a slice of bread), hagelslag and gestampte muisjes(my Grandson loves it..). Even now, it’s not as bad and nasty as you make it sound,the Dutch do have healthy lunch options, which (yes) includes a lot of bread, and a glass of milk(or tea), even a cup/bowl of soup!

  46. Damper

    the farmersalad (which does not contain minced up farmers, mind you :)) is actually my absolute favourite in the salad-section. It’s fresh and sweet (minichunks of pineapple!) and goes well with some really fresh cornbread

  47. busydarling

    Lovely post!!
    I love how some Dutch can’t laugh about themselves…

    I also feel that this post is incomplete. I still miss
    – ‘sandwich spread’
    – ‘speculoos’ and actually eating biscuits on bread
    – ‘bebogeen’: something not entirely unlike but not the least like caramel… which I’ve only used on cake (not Dutch cake… proper cake)
    – ‘kokosbrood’
    – ‘deli meats’ coming down to boterhamworst, chicken and ham. Damn, I miss deli meats!
    – blue chocolate ‘smear’ -lol-
    – making faces when I try Ovaltine Crunchy spread on crackers, just because they don’t know what Ovaltine is. Dude, you’re the one putting blue goo on your bread!

    We sometimes do get ‘eiersalade’ and ‘komkommersalade’ to put on pieces of baguette though… although I prefer to make my own in which eggs and cucumber can still be tasted. And my cucumber salad is actually a salad… come to think about it… and we only eat ‘komkommersalade’ because it reminds us of pickles a bit. So we might as well do something delicious with pickles then.

  48. Timbo

    Give me kip kerrie salade on my boterham any day of the week, beats a vegetated sandwich!

  49. Victoria

    The worst thing is the amount of SUGAR in these spreads. Even the meat and fish ones have tons of sugar in, even the Filet Americain (pureed meat, chemical colours, sugar and garbage). When you go out for lunch here the menu usually consists of various sandwiches and maybe one or two token salads (which come with bread). Bread is a Dutch obsession, as are the garbage they ‘smear’ all over it. Blech.

    • Dutch ex pat

      sugar? aren’t you confusing this with the USA, where they put High fructose sirup in EVERYTHING!

      • Pepin

        Nope Victoria is 100% right. There is sugar in everything in the NL. Check out the ingredients in your “tonijn salade” or even mayonaise (FYI the original recipe does not contain any sugar).
        I even saw someone putting sugar on pasta… wtf.

    • Thomas

      There’s sugar in everything all over the world..

    • Amy M G

      Sugar plus all of the vegetable oils. There is plenty of partially hydrogenated oils in Dutch pre-made foods as well! The foods are healthy in principle, but we would be far better off making Filet Americain at home these days….

  50. Pepin

    OMG this article is hilarious! I have been living in Holland for 2 years now and what I suffer the most from is not the weather… but the food! (I am French, yes I am obsessed by food anyway)
    I have lunch every day with my Dutch coworkers here and we do the groceries together hence I am not a happy man when it comes to share a meal.

    The “salade” is a made up word for “mayo & stuff”. There is absolutely nothing good at all in any of these except fat and tons of sugar. And I will not comment on the fact that everyone at work here seems to enjoy the same meal every day: broodje, kaas, “salade”, filet americain… and there you go again.

    For people claiming that we should not look down Dutch food because it is worse in Canada or the US… I will strongly disagree since I have been living in both America and Canada and I could always find more variety across the Atlantic. The main issue in the NL is that you have no choice unless you go to 10 different places (and still the meat quality is really poor).

    To sum up thanks for this article. I look forward to the next one!

    • lagatta à montréal

      Well, I live in Montréal, and I was horrified by Dutch bread (I thought it would be more like German bread – perhaps that is the case in the southern Netherlands). Sure, there is crap American bread here, but I never eat that – we get great baguettes, but also a lot of breads from Eastern European and Middle Eastern traditions.

      Usually when I’m eating lunch in NL, it is also with French and Spanish people, as well as people from Southeast Asia. I was shocked the first time I was eating only with Dutch people, with the bread-centric stuff.

      There is really crap food here too (think poutine) but it is not the only choice, and I’ve never eaten it. I do like to indulge in frites once in a while (obviously not too often) and would hate to muck them up, as in poutine.

      When I’m food-shopping in Amsterdam now, it is around Dappermarkt and Javastraat in the East End, and there are lovely foods from many countries, and I love the availability of fresh seafoods. The Dutch also make very good cheeses: I mean the more mature varieties, and I especially like the mature goat gouda, as I’m lactose-intolerant and can eat that with no digestive distress. I hate the very young gouda with no flavour and a lot of fat.

      And of course, I love Indonesian sambals!

  51. food

    Excellent – some discussion on one of my favourite irritations – the food in Netherlands. Here is a random list of my observations on supermarkets (AH) and restaurants in NL concerning (lack of) choice and (lack of) quality bearing in mind none of it is cheap and AH is allegedly the best supermarket in NL – take a trip to Waitrose or similar in the UK and you will see and taste the difference

    Supermarkets (AH)

    • Fruit and vegetable choice poor and are often rotting as soon as you get them home, if not already before (is that why they have those strange sell by dates that use day and week numbers so people don’t easily know?)
    • Dairy products always on shelves too close to or past sell by dates
    • Want to make a roast joint of meat, good quality beef, lamb or even turkey? Forget it its just not sold
    • Want to buy different cuts of steak – normally all called “beefsteak” so no idea what you but you are buying
    • Decent Sausages and bacon that can be cooked? not available – thin slivers of bacon that melts in a saucepan and sausages with unknown meat ingredients
    • Ice cream? Choice limited to 10 varieties of Magnum or some B&J or AH own brand rubbish
    • Bread – tastes like air, and goes dry and mouldy the next day if not before
    • A hundred varieties of tasteless mayonnaise – but NO tasty Heinz salad cream (and Heinz is in NL)
    • Potatoes of a size that could be used for jacket potatoes? Not available. Only potatoes are the tiny sizes (left over as other places don’t want them?) rubbish potatoes that are also often rotting at the point if sale and seem to be horrible anyway
    • Want to make a curry at home using a good quality ready prepared sauce (decent Indian restaurants do not exist in NL) ? Forget it. One brand of curry sauce with nothing stronger than chicken korma
    • No English mustard
    • Only fresh cakes that can be bought are 80% cream and 20% cake and choice limited to of 3 or 4 kinds
    • There are lots of types of paprika crisps though (for those who may like paprika crisps – I don’t)


    • Cheese sandwich the main items on any menu – plain tasteless sandwiches covered in tasteless mayonnaise but no decent sandwiches with decent filings such as tuna, chicken breast, roast beef (unless covered in blood) etc
    • No Pret a Manger. Even subway fillings in NL are rubbish quality
    • A million so called Kebab shops but no decent kebab. Want typical chicken or lamb shashlik with nice portions of chicken breast, good quality lamb? Forget it – you get slivers of who know what meat that tastes horrible – forget what they call it
    • Want a good curry? Forget it. Again quality of meat and chicken appalling and they do not know how to cook rice – stale rice
    • Want a roast dinner – forget it – a 1000 sushi and grills but no decent grills or roasts anywhere
    • Want fresh cod/haddock/plaice and freshly cooked chips? Forget it – frozen oven chips with frozen batter with a bit of fatty “fish” in it all fish is called fish (rather than cod etc) for a reason)
    • A million so called grills/steakhouses, decide to go for the grilled chicken expecting tasty freshly grilled spiced chicken breast? Forget it. Will get frozen reconstituted chicken (if it is chicken) and all restaurants in the same area will sell exactly the same rubbish. I wont mention that steakhouse that recently got in trouble for serving horsemeat. Is that why they call everything just ‘meat’ as noone cares what kind of meat they are eating?
    • And what cut if beef is beefsteak (if it is beef?)
    • Want a cooked breakfast? – most restaurants have no idea how to cook an Omelette or scrambled eggs – only in a microwave with who knows what added to it
    • Want a Jacket potato wit that steak? Forget it. Will get a half cold jacket potato cooked in a microwave – do restaurants in actually use or possess real ovens? Many homes do not even have proper ovens which sums up the Nl approach to food
    • Deserts – 3 or 4 flavours of ice cream, slice of poor quality (frozen?) cheesecake or slice of poor quality chocolate cake comprise the only choice deserts in nearly every restaurant
    • Even the NL version of Dominoes pizza is rubbish – tastes nothing like dominoes elsewhere (bread, cheese and sauce all different)
    Even coffee is not good in many places and the Dutch like to drink loads of coffee!

    As for the nasty spreads such as fillet americain…no thank you (note that the no ingredients are given when bought as to what exactly you are buying). I could go on and on, but I hope the above gives a flavour, of course I could be generalising:) What I don’t understanbd is that to Dutch people the quality and choice of food is good – by reference to what standard I don’t know.

    • Dutchie

      How funny! I was thinking something similar about the UK supermarkets. I haven’t found a bakery yet. Lack of good bread or crisp at the supermarket. What’s the deal with those bags with six small ones in it. That is just silly!

    • Pepin

      Where do you live? I need to give you a hug for this post. 😉

    • rmo

      hahahaha damn! you must have a terrible life. Ready your comment you probably even take a crap on a two michelin star restaurant. I’ve eaten in alot of restaurants around the world and I really can’t understand why people think that dutch restaurants are that bad?? You only need to know which one’s you can go to :). But that’s in every country.

    • Sarah

      it sounds like you should go to a butcher for your meats.

    • lagatta à montréal

      Agree with a lot of this, but I’ve found very good potatoes at markets. I buy fish at a fishmonger’s or the market.

      The British colonised India. The Dutch colonised Indonesia. If you want interesting, spicy stuff, look for Indonesian sambals. Lots of variety, and some have a lot of heat.

      • Food

        Hi – yes the smoked salmon from AH is awful, often dried up and bad tasting and not good cuts of salmon….:) Very limited choice of fruit and vegetables in AH, Strawberries (with green colour) and other fruit often rotting at point of sale…. I could add to the list if you are interested….no bread at all after 5pm…empty shelves often…

      • Food

        Yes – BUT – here is the link to the actual review. They assessed by different categories, if you look to the category “Quality” (of food) NL is way down the list, behind UK and behind US. They didn’t do a “choice” or category but if they did I would expect lower also….


  52. food

    oh and many of the italian restaurants are poor quality also, pasta in cheap cheese sauce, meat in bolognese sauce is called ‘meat’ for a reason. even AH sells minced beef laced with vegetables and it was only that they were caught out that they now have to disclose it on a label. even skinlesd chicken breasts in AH come with fat attached, as for their so called deli and freshcuts of meat, tasteless poor quality also.. want ready cooked sliced roasted chicken breast or roast beef..forget it..reconstituted chicken slices urghh.. and any roast beef sliced covered in blood… urghh.

  53. Marianne Lloyd

    As an Australian born with Dutch parents I somewhat sympathise. I hated the food my Oma cooked but I did really love krokketen, rookworst ( it no longer likes me), rook vlees, unknown to the Aussies, and the spiced cheeses. On the downside, we ate meatballs that resembled cricket balls, fried everything and boiled potatoes, not to mention Oma’s best, the spinach cooked in the pressure cooker! However…….we eat vegemite which I love but lets face it, it is an acquired taste, pluto pups and dagwood dogs! Nothing however beats a good Australia baked dinner of roast lamb, roast potatoes and pumpkin and some lovely fresh vegetable.

  54. Jools Apfel

    I’ve just returned from a week in South Limburg after a 40 year absence. I so wish I’d found your site before I went – nothing like being fore-armed! I’m not Dutch, but was born in Maastricht and lived in various villages near there for my first eight years. I loved every minute of our visit (it should have been much longer) soaking up the cultuur.

    Please do a post on the displays you see in Dutch house windows, I’m desperate to find out more – is there a special name for these displays of branches, twigs, flowers, hearts etc? I love them – my windows are about to Go Dutch!!

  55. Phantasteek

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA! I just found your blog! It’s so awesome! I love how the Dutch have no sense of humor when you talk about their food. And I LOVE how they get all sanctimonious about how their food is more healthy than Americans, but they have just as much processed garbage food as we do. Also in almost every Dutch home I went to (and I was an LDS missionary, so I went into a lot of homes, both native Dutch and immigrant) the frituur (deep fat fryer) is on almost every kitchen counter top.

  56. Pete

    Most expat contributors are spot-on as to “the” Dutch and their relation to food. The person writing in under that very same moniker most especially, I think: NL a very far cry indeed from culinary paradise. But then, the Dutch don’t eat because they’re hungry (or even particularly interested in what’s on their plate); the only reason they do is that it’s 6 pm sharp!

    • Britt

      Yes, Dutch food is not meant to be pleasant. The only ”Dutch” dish that actually has taste is nasi, but that is originally from Indonesia.
      I think it is a remnant of calvinist culture, that food should be functional, fueling the body, not a source of pleasure. Now it is just ‘normaal’ to eat this kind of food.

      • Thomas

        This was maybe true 30 years ago, we’ve come along way since! The Dutch don’t really have their own cuisine, true, but there are tons and tons of really good restaurants that serve food from various cultures. You just have to know where to go, as with anything.

  57. Jazz

    Love this blog, always funny to see how outsiders view our culture 🙂
    Some of our customs are very strange indeed, but lets not forget it goes 2 ways , for example i absolutelty loathe 2 of America’s favourite snacks the Twinky and Mountain Dew, might aswell consume pure sugar 😉
    Back to the “Salades” they do not look very appealing, but give them a try, some of them are actually tasty 🙂

  58. Rolf

    I suggest you to look into the phenomenon named “koude schotel” or “huzarensalade”. I recall my non-Dutch girlfriend being disgusted by it. While for me, as a Dutchman, couldn´t understand why it´s so terrible. 😛

    Apparently the amount of mayonaise we use is disturbing.

  59. Hannah

    When I first came to the Netherlands I was so excited to try all of the new and different foods that they had to offer and a lot of them were great but one thing I can never get used to is the spreads which, even though they have different names, all taste the same! I also find it hilarious that Dutch people claim to love variety in their meals, my mother-in-law likes to cook a different dinner every night, yet think it is perfectly normal to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day and even three times on a saturday! Over the years I have lived in England, Australia, America and now the Netherlands and although I didn’t like all of the food in all of those places in my experience the Netherlands has the least variety and choice of foods which makes me frequent the expat shops quite a lot 🙂

    • valentino

      That is a complete different thing.
      Tartarre is not minced meat at all! It is best meat cut in little pieces using a knife and seasoned. And when you prepare it, you do not spread on crappy bread.

  60. Carrot cake

    Interesting! I am Dutch myself, have worked for many different companies and have NEVER had a communal lunch. I wonder what you are talking about.

    Have to say, though, that most of it is probably true for part of our population, even if it is overdone and sometimes looks uninformed. Still I wonder why some people commenting seem to think the Dutch see eating as a necessary evil. Me and my friends regularly discuss food. We cook our own meals, choosing from a wide variety of world cuisines (yes, even Dutch!) and try to use only fresh ingredients. We really enjoy eating good food. We can’t be the only ones here!

  61. Annemiek

    I’m Dutch, I love bread.. The darker, the better… With cheese (duh!), lettuce, tomato, egg, ham, avocado…

    • Henny Versantvoort

      Annemiek, you must be family: I feel the same way. What could be healthier and more tasty!

  62. Jan Buisman

    Well as a dutch person i sometimes put slices of apple or tomato (with Sugar or pepper) up on my bread
    Sometimes even cheese topped of with pickels verry health and tasty
    And ofcourse all kinds of other dutch breadspreads
    You schould try the peanutbutter with Sambal

    • AntonLeen

      Or the ultimate luxury: peanutbutter, sambal and dark chocolate sprinkles 😉

  63. Yann

    I almost get caught by the “salad” label. I thought “mmm leker” but then, when you take a closer look… then you run away!

  64. Charlotte

    Just a side-note that the filet americain described in the article is certainly the way it is supposed to be prepared… but… to make it suitable for human consumption in spread-form, they’ve added so many preservatives that I think they make up about half of the entire ‘broodbeleg’.
    At the office, we had fun counting all of the E-numbers listed on the package. Safe to say that a cow may have been involved in the production process at some point, but not recently.
    And as an overall comment: “Gemak dient de mens!” 😉

  65. marco

    Although we have a terrible lunch habit on Holland and can we learn a lot from southern european lunches i don’t agree that we aren’t culinaire. We used to have a very bad kitchen but since the last 15 to 20 years we changed that and are we a very culinary country. Some say even more than Belgium. I wouldn’t go that far. But we are at least at the same level as them

    • valentino

      Limited variety and poor quality in supermarkets (a.k.a. AH) are the depressing mirror of the food culture in the Netherlands. You cannot prepare decent food with crappy products and lack of culinary traditions.
      It is quite evident the only aspect Dutch are interested in is price after all.
      Belgium is way better. No discussion.

      • Irving

        Don’t lump them all together…..
        In Brabant they have a much better foor attitude than ‘those stiffers’ above the rivers 🙂
        What did you expect with so much Calvinistic influence up north?

  66. Maaike

    I am a Dutch mom who lived in the UK and in the US for a while.
    First I would like to point out that the Dutch like bread for itself. That is the reason why you will find so many sorts at the bakery. At home, we serve about three different types at breakfast and lunch. My kids tried cereal for breakfast, but missed the bite of whole wheat bread.
    Gosh, I missed the Dutch bakery in the UK and the US! Hated all that white bread as well.
    And about the toppings. Have you noticed how many different cheeses and meats there are to choose from – both in speciality stores and the supermarket? I suppose Dutch people buy these, otherwise these wouldn’t be in the store, right?

    • Huub

      Hmmm nice fresh bread from the bakery. Simply nothing taste better….

  67. Sodebo

    This just totally cracked me up …. as it is one of the things I really miss!
    I’ve been living in Turkey for 10 years now, and all bread here is boring and tasteless, there’s just plastic cheese and ‘salam’ to choose from as a savory topping, and sweet toppings come as just jelly or chocolate with nuts …. my breakfast table is extremely ongezellig no matter what I try. Can’t wait to visit family next month and stock up on komkommer & kipkerry salade :))

    • albert738

      I am neither Dutch nor Turkish but I have spent time in both countries and lets face it, it is simply insane to complain about being in a country with one of the world’s richest and most varied food traditions like Turkey where even the crappiest ‘hole in the wall’ can serve something that will blow what tries to pass itself as haute cuisine in the Netherlands completely out of the water!!!! You should thank your lucky stars, go out for a proper Turkish breakfast spread and never mention hagelslag ever again!!!

      • minatti

        Albert738, are you serious? Turkish food is garbage: plain breads with pretending-to-be meat and those nasty spices. It’s one of the worst foods is the world (only behind UK). The Dutch food may not be as good as French or Italian, but is far better than those Turkish dishes: they all taste the same, like seasoned sand.

  68. food

    If any body know where cam buy:

    * decent quality soup (like baxters, waitrose even Heinz) chunky vegetable, chicken, tomato etc can you advise? I tried everything from AH, truly awful
    * decent quality range of fruit, even seedless satsumas/tangerines, or similar, can only see green seeded one type in AH?
    * is Tilda rice sold in NL?
    * anyone knows where to get potatoes of a size that could be used for jacket potatoes, cant see in AH

    Please don’t say markets or specialist shops, need something where is open to buy in evenings or weekends.


    • valentino

      Yes. Go to Belgium. Antwerpen is the closest place.

    • Judith

      Try a Turkish shop for big potatoes sold a piece and decent and more kinds of fruit. Though I actually like the fact that they sell grapes WITH seeds (what nonsense to make them without). I don’t k ow about the rice, but a ‘toko’ (asian shop) would have different kinds

  69. Izzy

    Hm. I’m from Austria but I’ve been to the Netherlands quite often – got friends there. Anyways, I never found the huge selection of spreads weird – never. There’s a lot of breadspreads in Austria as well – maybe no filet americain, but apart from that, egg salad, etc. etc. etc.

    • Spikes

      Read this article a while ago and had to laugh out loud, because the partial truth and partial lies are just presented so hilariously. I must agree, lot of dutch people actually do not think about what they eat, but hey, it’s not much better in the rest of the western world. The realisation is growing, only slowly.

      That being said, this article seems to have a poor base, it sounds as if only the nasty things they sell in cheap (actually too expensive) office restaurants were tried. And they, my friends, are particularly nasty. You will find something totally different if you visit a good specialist shop, or better, prepare it yourself.

      The origins of those spreads are probably related to ye olde huzarensalade and egg salad, both of which originated in central europe or further east. They are practical methods of preparing food way before you consume them, and should actually taste better the longer you wait with consuming.

      Filet americain is of course totally unrelated, as it is from belgium (when it was already belgium), Brussels to be more precise. They call it “préparé”, to denote a special way of preparing what they call “filet americain” for consumption. You can still eat it in the restaurant that it was invented in, and it is of course closely related to the french dish “steak tartare”, which is still very popular in a lot of countries. Regulation is very strict, and meat is handled with utter care, and everybody knows you should consume it all within one day after opening it up. If you think that heating up oil and butter to prepare your meat, be my guest, but we all know there are great (GREAT) health risks involved with that too. Being afraid of sushi, carpaccio de boeuf or other types of raw meat is probably a cultural thing with roots that are perfectly understandable. Especially considering we know what raw chicken can do to you, but we don’t eat that.

      Also, did you know that good filet americain is low in calories, as all raw meat is? Have you considered that almost 1/4th of the british people is obese, rating it among the most obese countries in Europe? That only 1/10th of the dutch people is obese, and that it is down there with France, Romania, Scandinavia and Italy as thinnest in Europe? =).

  70. Monique DiCarlo

    That last sentence was not nice and not necessary. I ate all these things my whole life and have no bugs inside me (other than the ones we need to survive) and have no health problems. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you have to make it look disgusting. What I find more disgusting is the food here in the US! Just reading the ingredient labels makes you sick! How about a pink slime chicken nugget? Or hamburger meat washed with ammonia?

  71. Erica

    Actually wow…the last is really dumb…wow surprise Dutchies alive walking around everywhere not dead from eating it for years. I maybe am different but I actually like Filet Americain esp with some pepper sprinkled on top. It tastes alot better than some of the other spreads. Have you seen the shit in USA that people eat?? And far as I know no one has bugs or anything from eating Filet Americain.

  72. Bill

    Filet Americain is DELICIOUS and everyone who says otherwise is wrong

  73. Victor

    It is so funny to read all the foreigners’ comments on the Dutch food. Especially the comments on our bread. I have been to many places all around the world and NOWHERE I could find good bread, Dutch bread. I think we like different kind of bread. In many supermarkets in the world the only sliced-bread you can buy is pre-packed, sweet, factory made bread or bread which cannot be sliced (but which is off course good, but different) such as baguette, focaccia etcetera. I hate to go for lunch in other countries because a normal slice of bread cannot be found, unfortunately. All these comments are a cultural thing because people think that their food is the best but do not realize that this is what Dutch people like. Remember that we feel the way you feel when we are in supermarkets in your countries: we never can find something which is even comparable to our ‘great’ food..

    And please do not think that the Dutch food is the food we buy in supermarkets. Off course it’s what foreigners see but for the real bread, meat, fish, nuts, potatoes and vegetables you should go to the specialist which is the place where lots of Dutch people still go for their meals!

    • valerio

      Easy access to good food is what makes a nation a place where importance is given to food. The Netherlands is not in this list. Sorry. Here the most important aspect is price.
      How many people in the Netherlands go to this ‘specialist’ shop? Less than 1%? Markets are acceptable but very pricey. However, the majority of the people I see in Amsterdam buy food in AH. Plastic vegetables and fruit with no seasons, convenience food and dairy products. That’s what you can expect.
      And the Dutch I see in my office have been eating the same stuff bread, cheese, cucumber, spreads for 3 years. Every single day. And it is not just a few people. I mean, all of them. No exceptions.
      Dutch are a great people for many other things but please, good food and culinary traditions are somewhere else.

  74. Pam

    First of all, I´m mexican… so… I KNOW ABOUT FOOD!

    °°° I LOVE ALL THE NICE THINGS that Dutch people use on bread °°°

    My theory about this article: Probably the person who wrote this article did have money to buy a good brand… or a homemade spread…period.

    GO TO HOLLAND and try them all… I´m sure you will like one of the many options.

  75. Bas

    That is funny because we just came from Mexico and loved the food there: maybe Dutch and Mexican taste is very compatible?
    On the lunch bit: we’ve been traveling through 24 countries the last year and I still miss the Dutch bread, decent cheese, the huge variety of cut meats and of course fillet American. We haven’t encountered one country with this variety in cheese and meat (although Uruguay came very close) or bread. I’ve been eating rice as lunch the past months here in Asia and can’t wait to have a “decent” lunch back home.
    Peru had a good variety but only in Lima and very expensive. USA did have a lot to choose from but still no decent cheese and most bread was quite soft (loved the things they put on bread at Subways but the bread itself is no where near Dutch bread).
    There are of course a lot of things that are better in other countries: don’t try to get some decent bacon in the Netherlands and I don’t really love the coffee usually (Senseo is crap and restaurants only serve expresso like coffee, I like the American drip style much better which I also make at home) and don’t even think about getting your vegetables and fruit at AH. But we haven’t encountered a lot of countries with so much variety on food and this is one of the things I miss the most about home: just be sure to eat lunch with the right people! 🙂

  76. Janny

    Janny: Australia
    Well i came to this site in the hope of finding recipe on Fillet Americaan and i will find it, I have missed eating it for so long now im going to make it myself and indulge.
    As i see it people all over the world have different tastes and as far as im concerned, i would much rather have Fillet Americaan before i would touch a Macca’s burger or Hungry Jacks or any of the junk food made available, talk about human consumption who knows what goes on in the fast food kitchens, they also need to go to the toilet and do they wash their hands, now there is a thought for you.

  77. Sarah

    From the comments here it seems the Dutch response to “Dutch lunches are boring” is “yeah, well Americans are FAT”. Are there only Dutch and Americans commenting here? I’m from another European country where lunch and even breakfast are meals to enjoyed as much as dinner. Our breakfast options parlay into decent lunch options too and can take up half a cafe menu. I miss going out for breakfast and lunch very much. I long for options other than sandwiches. That doesn’t mean that I hate the Netherlands, just that I find the breakfast and lunch options here dull and very, very limited.

  78. Erica

    I love to travel, but I really miss the “bruine boterham met kaas” whenever I’m abroad. You may call our breakfast and lunch boring, the Dutch simply love their brown bread and they hate the white, often tasteless bread and plastic cheese in other countries. Of course many countries have great bread and cheeses, but after eating white bread for a few days, no matter how great it tastes, I long for a “bruine boterham”.

  79. Monique

    At least we have a lot more choice, just because you don’t like it you don’t have to nasty about it. I like it and i miss the difercity here in the UK, it is so boring. Unless you like chips with everything. i mean you people put that on a sandwich, talking about discusting iewww.

  80. Gret

    Ever tried Cheezewiz!! Now that is a disgusting American spread.
    I am Dutch and indeed love Filet American. I live in Spain and make it with the official herb blend on a regular basis. Mmmmmmm. I think I will whip up a batch right now!!

  81. Natalie

    Well as a dutch girl who lived 12 years of my life in holland (currently in the u.s) I must disagree. I think that the dutch are very aware of healthy eating and I believe that the food is delicious and made with good and healthy ingredients especially compared to the food here in America. The lunch Is simple yes, but it’s lunch our lunches don’t consist of huge meals. That is just one difference in another culture. I miss dutch food so much! I will forever choose kroketten over hamburgers and muisjes over any kind of snack

    • Valerio

      You are comparing Dutch food with the only food culture that is worse than that. That’s too easy. American food is the root of all evil.

    • Amanda

      Hi Natalie. I agree. What most people, especially Americans, dont realize is that the health codes are different in Europe than they are in the US. I LOVE Filet Americain and ate it almost everyday with bescuit. I was never sick nor did I fear getting anything weird. I still make filet Americain here in the states but have to go to a speciality butcher shop so they can prepare meat that is a high enough standard to eat raw.
      I’m not sure why someone would create a whole website and insult the cuisine of another country. Get a life!

  82. Lara

    well, I’m 100% Dutch, and I also think this stuff is disgusting.. The texture is weird and idk but I hate bread!! i hate hate hate. It’s so boring that we Always have to eat bread.. Yeah, exept the people who live at themselves.. but I’m just 14, so there isn’t anything to do ’bout it.. They say it’s healthy O.o.. so what about the Italians.. I don’t think they eat bread 2 or 3 times a day.

  83. JazP

    This is very, very, very western… I never had a lunch like that at work in my life, and never even heard of it… Please take it of the list as it’s embarrasing!!!

  84. Marcel

    Whoever has written this can’t be tolerant to the
    Dutch!! Ever since I became an expat I miss these things most. Whenever I am back in Holland the first thing to eat is Filet American (preferably with some red gooey stuff dripping from it). I love the stuff and our kids (who didn’t grew up in Holland) just adore these type of foods. Stop criticizing other people habits and likes. Or do you otherwise prefer dog sandwich which more common in the far east!

  85. Gezina Ponsen

    Not as bad as the Asians. They eat every thing that was alive or dead!!!!

  86. Karin

    You forgot the “speciaal” version of a brooder filet American. It has a boiled egg as an extra treat.

    Oh and the lovely people in Utrecht can always skip the filet and order themselves a nice “Broodje Mario”

  87. Lily

    Never been ill one day from it. Every country has his nasty’s foodwise. We don’t force you to eat it.

  88. Donna

    Filet American is simply the best!!!! Ate it all my life never had E.Coli, parasites or salmonella from it. Its simply delicious. Its also eaten in France Switzerland and Belgium.

  89. Susan Fausten (@Marjolein47)

    I am Dutch living in Canada. , never met any Dutch people who wanted to split the bill, We all had curtains, Never heard of that lunch spread and the reason that people don’t buy so much, There is nothing worth buying there I tried to spend money but could not find anything not like here in Canada, Some food there was really good and some not so,And I have met plenty of cheap people from other countries. I never knew that Dutch people were cheap,, this must be the new generation.

  90. Huub

    I guess food is highly personal and a reflection how we grew up. I miss Dutch Bread fresh from the bakery (with Oude kaas).

    I have now lived almost 10yrs abroad. But when I am back in the Netherlands my first stop is the “Patat-tent” for a patatje Oorlog. My last stop before leaving “any place” where I can get a bottle of Beerenburg and drop…followed by a fast sprint to the airplane.

    I guess what I miss most are the friday/saturday Dutch food markets; Fresh fish, gebakken lekkerbekjes, verse groente, kaas en vlees. Strolling over the market with my dad getting a lekkerbekje. (His diet be damned. Mostly followed by a quick; “Do not tell Mum”.)

    Indeed Dutch supermarkets are not beacons of culinary greatness. But having walked around in my fair share of supermarkets abroad I cannot say that any supermarket is. No matter if you walk around in HK, Jakarta, Belgium, France, Mexico or Poland.

    Dutch restaurants might not be places with the best food, but I seldom walked into a place with bad service or that was not gezellig.

    I miss and love Cantonese, Indonesian, Mexican and even Polish food. But I enjoy most off all is my mums simple Stampot.

  91. dubaieddy

    What else do you put on your bread? In the middle-east good bread was not so long ago difficult to get. Now there are good bakeries but what is still missing, a proper smear to put on. We sometimes find Calve Pindakaas in the shops, though rare. Unfortunately the stuff what is imported from the US and UK is utterly tasteless. At-least the Dutch are creative with easy lunch varieties and made it an enjoyment! Love File Americain!

  92. Haico Makes Hotsauce

    I hear what you are saying about Dutch broodbeleg, but I find it interesting that a Canadian is commenting on Dutch cuisine.. At least Dutch food has flavour;) Had to start making my own hot sauce to get some flavour in this country 🙂 Keep up the good work though 🙂

  93. Edda Baert Mommaerts

    I chalenge the author of this article to come and have a real Dutch lunch at my place, because what is described here looks nothing like what we have! We have very healthy and very tasty bread and we are fortunate enough to be be able to buy food from all over the world in the Netherlands. And even if you go out for lunch you can go to restaurants that serve food from all over the world. Dont measure a country by the pre-fab stuff sold in the supermarkets: These are mainly bought by people who lack time for and knowledge about real food.

  94. Marlize

    In the first place a company restaurant or canteen is NOT the standard for a good Dutch lunch. Furthermore our fresh wholewheat bread is awesome, especially with Dutch cheese or one of the very many cold cuts. I never found that variety in the States or the UK. Go and have lunch in a good ‘broodjeszaak’ or lunch café and you will shiver with delight. I found bread in the States and UK tasteless and even foul. Only good for toasting. Yes, I am Dutch, and have traveled around a lot. I like French baguettes when in France, but when I come home I surely relish my Dutch sandwich (without the spreads mentioned above). Yours truly.

  95. AntonLeen

    The picture shown above is NOT chicken sate salad. NOT kip sate salade. It is the egg-salad with chives. Eiersalade met bieslook.

  96. TFLittlefoot

    I love this site, but I don’t agree with this post at all. I am Dutch, but living in England and I miss the variety of things to put on my bread for lunch. I miss the variety of bread as well for that matter. I have never particularly liked the ‘salads’ to put on my bread, mainly because they fall out as you eat, but who could resist some Tijgerbrood or brown bread with sesame seeds from the Baker. And don’t forget to add some grill worst or fricandeau… Over here you can get ham, chicken, turkey and cheese, that’s it…

    And don’t forget hagelslag, calve pindakaas and duo penotti!

  97. Mica

    Why do all foreigners go to Albert Heijn for their shopping anyway and judge Dutch food upon that experience?

    Take your bike and go to the local market or one of the many specialty stores for your daily shopping of fresh veggies, fish, bread and meat of excellent quality, like many food-loving Dutch do! You won’t find many large supermarkets or “hypermaches” in the Netherlands, so a comparison with Albert Heijn is unjust anyway. We still have many small specialized shops which complement the local supermarkets. You just need to know where to find these.

    By the way, a Dutch lunch without bread is like an Asian meal without rice. And like Asian rice, there are many sorts of bread. What’s wrong with that?

    About bread toppings: yes, the Dutch bread topping consist often of one food item and not of layers of many kinds. However, if you buy good quality products, you would not want to ‘hide’ the taste by covering your topping with many others!

    Some suggestions for a good traditional Dutch hearty and savoury lunch. Nothing fancy, but good quality and tasty products! Some are acquired taste though:
    – broodje filet Americain (steak tartare)
    – broodje warme beenham met honing-mostersaus
    – broodje rosbief met peper
    – broodje kroket (only homemade or Kwekkeboom or Van Dobben)
    – (broodje) haring (with pieces of onion and pickles, not too much)
    – broodje gerookte paling
    – (broodje) Hollandse garnalen
    – uitsmijter
    – erwtensoep met roggebrood (my mom makes the best!)
    – pannenkoeken (any kind, according to taste).

  98. Sidhuriel

    I’m a Dutch that lived with a UK family for a year and I have to say that our lunches were strikingly similar. They would eat Tesco’s chicken, cheese or tuna ”spreads” which come in coronation chicken, tikka massala or jerk chicken varieties on white Hovis bread with margarine for lunch, usually sided by a packet of crisps which the Dutch don’t usually have for lunch.

    If they wouldn’t have that, they’d have a grilled cheese sandwich which would just be white bread with grated cheese shoved under a grill or they’d have some leftover roast and margarine on their ”sarnie”. The lunches were the same as what I grew up with in Holland, though my family insisted on the use of butter instead of margarine, which I consider the epitome of bad taste. Margarine makes everything taste bad. Especially margarine on cheap bread with a cheaper ”salad”; I might be Dutch but you’ll never catch me eating that.

    However, I don’t think the ”salad” is representative of traditional Dutch food at all; I think the epitome of Dutch lunches is the ”cheese sandwich’. Which usually consists of whole wheat bread, some farmer’s cheese and butter. This can be found in any quality you like; according to what you can afford. It certainly is possible to get quality bread, artisan cheese and good butter to make a darn tasty ”sarnie” from those ingredients.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  99. Vera DeWeese

    This is fascinating, since I do not recognize the current breakfas and lunch”cuisine” in the Netherlands from what I enjoyed years ago as a child from Zuid-Holland. I do remember muisjes and hagelslag, but rarely had it because my mother didn’t think it was healthy to have it often. Een broodje kaas (excellent cheese varieties) and variations on “worst” (coldcuts) with several types of hearty bread is what I remember most, with occasional pindakaas. Often we had our warm meal (dinner) at lunchtime, or uitsmijters with good ham. Delicious homemade soups were a mainstay all year round, not just for the evening meal. We grew our own vegetables, which were highly prized, never overcooked, but never undercooked either. Yes, I do remember lots of potatoes for dinner, but not just boiled–also mashed, sauteed in slices, and in a “stamppot” with greens or carrots–very good. Absolutely none of the above named “spreads” existed in my village, not that I know of. I loved smoked fish and eel, and “zure haring.” We had more chicken and pork available than beef, but I remember it having excellent flavor, from the feed they had. Of course it helped that we lived adjacent to a boerderij! The local baker was fine, with french pastries that were exactly like the ones I had in Paris on a trip in later years. Now, I do have to admit that I loved “zoute drop” any time of day that I could get it!

  100. minatti

    I am from Brazil, but I lived many years in France, NL and US – countries with very peculiar food habits.

    Here in Brazil we see quite the opposite regarding our meals: the lunch is the main meal; no processed food is used, even in restaurants; no lunch is complete without big pieces of real and cooked meat; only fresh veggies are used (no canned stuff).

    But there is no place in Brazil where I can find any bread as good as the several Dutch varieties. The bread here is tasteless and usually very white. The type of bread most consumed here is called “water bread”: and I guess the name comes from its main ingredient.
    Also, all the Dutch “salads” and spreads are really tasty, specially the ones we buy at the markets. I love the rundvleessalade! It’s among the best edible stuff in the world.

    Thus, I guess one of the reasons Dutch people eat bread slices with salad spreads is simply because they are so damn lekker!

  101. Robbert Michel (@RobbertMichel)

    The funny thing is that I’ve heard many Dutch people talk about the dreaded Belgian business lunches, which take a whopping 2 hours, and copious wine, and afterwards everybody is too drunk to do anything.

    • Dutch Courage

      @Robbert, And all of a sudden it becomes clear how we work the least hours, but are still the most productive … 😉 (also read the previous blog post here about ‘not working’.

  102. Eet smakkelijk | Kat in the World

    […] Snacks: in the Netherlands it is quite common to find machines where you put money in and a door opens and you get a warm “snack” (see pic.). These places are called snack bars. Some of the most famous/common snacks you can get/must try are bitterballen, frikandel, kroket, and if you’re vegetarian the kaas souflee. Frites (French fries) are also very famous in the Netherlands, especially the sauces that they put on them. The Dutch also have frite saus which is a mixture of mayonnaise and sometimes has lemon juice, capers, and anchovies in it, it is so common you can get it at basically any fast food restaurant here. Different types of fish, usually bought at fish stands are also “snacks” here; the most famous one being Harring (haven’t had this yet). You also can’t talk about snacks without talking about the abundance of paprika flavored chips in Europe which can not be found in America. Some people compare them to BBQ flavored chips but it is definitely not the same at all. Now it has become so normal to me that I almost forgot to write about it. I also must add that in the US one will find more individual packaged “snack foods” than in the Netherlands. Because I do not know which category to place this in exactly, I will just put it here; meat salad, a mixture of meat and mayonnaise and other thing and it is not my favorite thing in the world by far but as an exchange student you should try everything twice and then make a decision. AFS says a lot “it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different.” This is a blog that describes the meat salads very well in addition to many other things, it is written by an expat from Canada: https://stuffdutchpeoplelike.com/2013/07/05/no-46-nasty-spreads-broodbeleg/ […]

  103. PO

    I miss bread from Vienna. Whenever i travel back home i pack my luggage with Austrian bread (tasty, firm, real bread). I am so sad about the bread i get here in the Netherlands…. it’s unbelievable that people here eat it.

  104. Esmée

    I love bread, though I agree most people do not now how to build a party with it. Three ingredients are needed at least! For example butter (the real stuff. Dutch are indoctrinated with margerine which is disgusting and unhealthy), cheese, baby leaves salad, tomato and mayonaise. Or hummus, cheese and rucola. Or bacon, lettuce, tomato and sauce, or butter, smoked meat and cherry tomatoes.

    I once sat with an expat at work and made my bread with bleu cheese, green apple and butter and she goes ‘oh so that’s what you do! You just pick and match yourself!’

    So your bread is as bad as you make it. The supermarket, slagerij ( butcher) groenteman (fruit and veg seller) and bakker (baker) can give you the finest options for your bread. You just have to choose. Choose wisely.


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