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Markus Anecdotes - Typical Dutch things you’ll find at a Dutch supermarket

Written with Photos by Markus

Dutch supermarkets offer a variety of unique items that reflect the country's culinary traditions and cultural preferences.

Stroopwafels: These are thin waffle cookies with a caramel-like syrup filling. They're a beloved Dutch treat and can often be found in Dutch supermarkets in various flavors and sizes.

Stroopwafels are a traditional Dutch treat that has gained popularity both within the Netherlands and internationally. These delicious treats consist of two thin, crispy waffle-like cookies sandwiched together with a caramel-like syrup filling. It costs between 1 euro for a package of 10, all the way up to 10 euro.

They have a history dating back to the late 18th century in the Netherlands. They originated in the city of Gouda, which is famous for its cheese but also for these delightful waffle cookies. Initially, they were made from leftover batter crumbs and syrup and were sold at local markets.

The basic ingredients for stroopwafels include flour, butter, eggs, sugar, yeast, milk, and spices such as cinnamon and vanilla. The dough is pressed into thin waffle cookies on a special waffle iron, then sliced horizontally to create two thin layers. A warm syrup made from caramelized sugar, butter, and cinnamon is spread between the layers before they're pressed back together.

Stroopwafels have a unique texture that combines the crispiness of the waffle cookies with the chewiness of the syrup filling. The syrup filling, often flavored with cinnamon,

adds a sweet and slightly spicy taste that complements the buttery flavor of the waffle cookies.

While traditional stroopwafels are made with a caramel syrup filling, you can also find variations with different fillings such as chocolate, honey, or even fruit-flavored fillings. Some stroopwafels are also coated in chocolate or dipped in chocolate for an extra indulgent treat.

Stroopwafels are often enjoyed as a snack or dessert and are commonly served with a hot cup of coffee or tea. One popular way to enjoy stroopwafels is to place them on top of a hot beverage for a few moments to soften them slightly before eating, which helps to melt the syrup filling and enhances their deliciousness.

While stroopwafels are readily available in the Netherlands, they have also gained popularity internationally and can be found in specialty stores, online retailers, and even some mainstream supermarkets around the world. Key is that they are fresh.

There’s a huge difference between a freshly made stroopwafel and one that has been, even when properly packaged, made more than a week ago. These you can’t compare. The fresh will have a bit crunchy cookie, where the not so fresh one will not have this at all.

So the best stroopwafels you buy straight from who makes them instead of from a

supermarket. Though even there you’ll find more expensive brands that have a

shortened shelf life, but it still won’t come near a freshly made stroopwafel.

Drop (Licorice): Dutch licorice, known as "drop," comes in a wide range of flavors and shapes, from sweet to salty. It's a popular candy in the Netherlands and can be found in abundance in Dutch supermarkets. It’s a candy that you either love or hate. And in the Netherlands, there are many who love it. Speaking for myself, I don’t love it, but seen it also works against coughing, I always have a bag laying around. It costs between 1 euro for a 500 gram back, all the way up to 7 euro.

Licorice comes in a wide range of varieties in the Netherlands, with different shapes, flavors, and textures. The most common distinction is between sweet licorice (zoete drop) and salty licorice (zoute drop). Sweet licorice typically contains more sugar and has a milder flavor, while salty licorice contains ammonium chloride (salmiak) or

sodium chloride, giving it a distinct salty taste.

This candy can come in various shapes and forms, including coins, buttons, ropes, diamonds, cats, cars, and more. Some licorice candies are filled with soft or liquid centers, while others are coated in sugar or salt.

In addition to the traditional sweet and salty flavors, licorice can also come in a variety of other flavors, such as fruit-flavored licorice or licorice combined with herbs like mint or menthol.

Licorice holds cultural significance in the Netherlands, where it is deeply ingrained in the culinary traditions and social fabric of the country. It's a popular treat enjoyed by people of all ages and is often shared among friends and family.

It is believed to have some health benefits, particularly in its natural form. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its potential therapeutic properties, including its soothing effects on the throat and digestive system.

However, it's essential to consume licorice in moderation, especially if it contains high levels of sugar or salt.

While licorice is most closely associated with Dutch cuisine, it has gained popularity in

it has gained popularity in other parts of the world as well. Scandinavian countries, for example, also have a strong tradition of licorice consumption, with their own unique varieties and flavors.

Licorice can be found in abundance in Dutch supermarkets, candy shops, and specialty stores. It's also widely available online, allowing licorice enthusiasts from around the world to indulge in their favorite treats.

Hagelslag are chocolate sprinkles commonly eaten on bread for breakfast or as a snack in the Netherlands. They come in various flavors such as chocolate, fruit-flavored, and aniseed. It costs between 1,50 and 5 euro for a 1kg box.

Hagelslag consists of small, thin, and often elongated flakes or granules of chocolate or sometimes fruit-flavored sugar, similar to sprinkles. These are typically used as a topping for bread, toast, or crackers, especially at breakfast time.

It is commonly sprinkled generously on top of a slice of bread or toast that has been spread with butter. The warmth of the bread or toast slightly melts the hagelslag, creating a deliciously sweet and crunchy topping.

The most popular variety of hagelslag is chocolate, made from cocoa powder, sugar, and sometimes milk powder. It comes in different cocoa percentages, from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. Additionally, there are fruit-flavored varieties, such as strawberry or orange, which are made from sugar and fruit flavoring.

Hagelslag is deeply ingrained in Dutch culture and is considered a staple in many Dutch households. It's a nostalgic and beloved food item for many Dutch people, often associated with childhood memories and family breakfasts.

It was invented in the Netherlands in the early 20th century by Gerard de Vries, who developed a way to produce chocolate sprinkles as an alternative to traditional chocolate bars. The name "hagelslag" translates to "hailstorm" in Dutch, which reflects the small and granular nature of the chocolate flakes.

Hagelslag can be found in virtually every Dutch supermarket, grocery store, and bakery. It's available in various packaging sizes, from small boxes to larger bags, and in different flavors to suit different preferences.

While hagelslag is primarily used as a bread topping, it can also be used to decorate cakes, pastries, ice cream, and other desserts, adding a touch of sweetness and texture.

One odd thing I’d like to mention: Sometimes you can be in the mood for hagelslag, but then you may not want to eat it. Nice thing is that each chocolate piece has a thin suger layer, allowing them to keep (and not spoil) for a long time.

Poffertjes mix: Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes typically served with powdered sugar and butter.  You can find poffertjes mix in Dutch supermarkets to make these at home. To me, whenever I visit the Efteling (A Dutch Themepark), eating this at their designated poffertjes restaurant is a fixed item on the agenda.

Poffertjes are small, round, and fluffy pancakes, typically about 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter. They have a light and airy texture, similar to American pancakes or Japanese dorayaki.

The basic ingredients for poffertjes include flour, eggs, milk, yeast, sugar, and salt. Some recipes may also include melted butter or vanilla extract for added flavor.

Poffertjes are traditionally cooked on a special cast iron pan called a "poffertjespan." This pan has several shallow, round indentations where the batter is poured. The poffertjes are cooked on both sides until they are golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside while remaining soft and fluffy on the inside.

Poffertjes are typically served warm and are often topped with powdered sugar and butter. They can also be served with other toppings such as syrup, jam, Nutella, whipped cream, or fresh fruit, depending on personal preference.

Poffertjes are a popular street food in the Netherlands and are often sold at outdoor markets, festivals, and food stalls. They are also commonly enjoyed at home as a special treat for breakfast, brunch, or dessert.

The origins of poffertjes can be traced back to the 17th century in the Netherlands. Originally, they were made using buckwheat flour and were cooked over an open fire. Over time, the recipe evolved, and poffertjes became a beloved Dutch delicacy enjoyed by people of all ages.

While traditional poffertjes are made with a basic batter, there are many variations and creative twists on the classic recipe. Some recipes incorporate different types of flour, such as whole wheat or spelt flour, while others add ingredients like cocoa powder, cinnamon, or lemon zest for added flavor.

Bitterballen: Bitterballen are deep-fried meat-based snacks, often served with mustard for dipping. They're a popular Dutch bar snack and can sometimes be found in the freezer section of Dutch supermarkets for easy preparation at home.

Bitterballen are small, round croquettes with a crispy outer layer and a soft, creamy filling. They are usually about the size of a ping-pong ball and are deep-fried to achieve their golden brown color and crispy texture.

The filling of bitterballen typically consists of a thick roux-based mixture combined with finely chopped meat (such as beef or veal), broth, herbs, and spices. The mixture is cooked until it thickens and then chilled before being shaped into balls, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried.

Bitterballen are traditionally served hot and are often accompanied by mustard for dipping. They are typically served as an appetizer or snack, especially in bars and cafes, but can also be enjoyed as part of a meal or as party food.

They are deeply ingrained in Dutch culinary culture and are considered a quintessential Dutch snack. They are often enjoyed during borrels (social gatherings) along with drinks like beer or bitter liqueurs, hence the name "bitterballen."

The origins of bitterballen can be traced back to the 19th century in the Netherlands. They were originally created as a way to use up leftover meat, and their popularity grew over time, eventually becoming a beloved snack enjoyed by people across the country.

While the classic bitterballen recipe typically includes meat-based fillings, there are also vegetarian and seafood variations available. Some modern versions of bitterballen may incorporate ingredients like cheese, mushrooms, or spicy flavors for added variety.

Making bitterballen from scratch can be a time-consuming process, as it involves preparing the filling, shaping the balls, coating them in breadcrumbs, and deep-frying them. However, pre-made frozen bitterballen are also widely available in Dutch supermarkets and can be quickly heated up in the oven or deep-fryer for convenience.

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