How people eat in the Netherlands

People in the Netherlands are fond of Indonesian food, like this spread prepared by Kees DeWitt for a Unitarian auction fundraiser.

So we’re going to a dinner prepared by a guy from the Netherlands. A whole spread made up of the special dishes he prepares when he has family visiting from his home country.

Ruth and Kees DeWitt

Would you believe everything on the menu, with the exception of Dutch coffee and cookies, is Indonesian?

“Indonesian food is very popular in the Netherlands,” explains our host, Kees DeWitt, an electrical engineer who came to this country in a 1992 job transfer.

“The Dutch actually call this type of food ‘Chinese,’ ” he adds, because after Indonesia gained its independence around 1948, many Indonesians of Chinese descent migrated to the Netherlands.

Chicken satay

On the menu: Nasi (rice with vegetables), Bami (noodles with vegetables), chicken satay (broiled chicken pieces on a skewer), with a yummy homemade spicy peanut sauce and an oriental salad. There was also a fabulous spicy pepper sauce called Sambal Oelek and a sweet soy sauce called Ketjap Manis. For dessert, there was a fresh fruit salad, Dutch coffee and a plate of Dutch cookies — not those infamous windmills, but similar shortbread-style cookies in other shapes.

Over dinner, Kees explained that these types of foods are more common in Dutch restaurants than something he would’ve eaten at home growing up.

“So what did you eat at home?” I asked.

“Meat and potatoes,” he said with a laugh, noting that Dutch food is somewhat similar to German cuisine.

Kees’ American wife, Ruth, described various Dutch dishes he’s made for her; common ingredients seem to be potatoes, carrots, onions and sauer kraut.

Later  I asked Kees what was the hardest thing to get used to about eating in America. His response:

“At lunch time, overloading sandwiches with meats, cheese, lettuce, mustard, mayo and all the other condiments, drinking 32 oz. of a sugary soda, and potato chips,” he said. “A Dutch sandwich would be one slice of bread, butter, one slice of meat or cheese, with a glass of milk.”

And what does he miss the most?

“Going to the snack bar on the corner to get Patates Frites (French fries) with mayo or spicy peanut sauce, frikandellen (similar to a deep fried hot dog) with curry ketchup and Oliebollen (New Year’s donuts with raisins and apple).”

This photo of Oliebollen comes from the blog

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