There are typical Hors d’Oeurvres served in Holland called ‘borrelgarnituur’ or ‘bittergarnituur.’, usually served at birthday parties or found on menus in bars and restaurants. These snack platters can consist of a selection of Dutch pickles like Amsterdam onions, or silver onions. Then there is sliced ‘leverworst’ (liverwurst) and ‘ossenworst’ (spiced raw beef sausage). Then of course Dutch cheese – young or matured, served with Zaanse mustard. Then there are for example melba toasts topped with different kind of salads and also my favorite ‘filet Americain’. (raw beef with seasonings, ground into a paste and served on a piece of toast). Just to name a few. Also popular are ‘bitterballen’, deep-fried delicacies containing meat ragout. Often translated as ‘bitter-balls’, these finger foods do not taste bitter at all. The name refers to the tradition of serving bitters, like jenever (Dutch gin) with this snack. These days they are more enjoyed with beer.
I remember, when I was growing up and I was a guest at a typical Dutch birthday party, we all sat in the living room around the coffee table. Part of the ritual is that you are welcomed first with a cup of coffee or tea and a birthday cake. For the little ones there is a glass of milk or a glass of grenadine syrup diluted with water. Then later in the day or evening the platter came out of the kitchen with a selection of the aforementioned snacks. The platter would pass from one hand to the next, each person taking one snack. The host would then take the platter back to the kitchen, to make its reappearance at a later time. We now jokingly refer to that custom as typical Dutch hospitality. One example as to why the Dutch are known abroad for being frugal. Luckily times have changed and the Dutch cuisine has evolved in the last 50 years. The culinary offering of the Netherlands has become more varied, this due to increased tourism and food experiences abroad and influx from people of other cultures. The Indos for instance had a great deal to do with that after WWII, when they came to Holland.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
These days elaborate all-you-can-eat hors d’oeuvres buffets are offered at house parties. You can select from a wide selection of food stuffs from different parts of the world. My personal favorite is Mediterranean cuisine. Tough to resist, therefore I just allow! For example; French, Italian, Greek, Turkish and my favorite Spanish Tapas. When in Holland, I don’t have to go to my Spanish restaurant for my Tapas fix. I can go to one of the local supermarkets to find a range of imported cold cuts, cheeses and other fine delicacies. My number one favorite is Jamón Serrano, a type of jamón (dry-cured Spanish ham), which is generally served raw in thin slices. I like to eat my tapas with slices of fresh baguette, served with a good glass of Rioja. Writing about this makes my craving even bigger. Tapas style foods have been part of my life. I was raised in a restaurant with access to food most of the time, which made grazing throughout the day quite easy. I basically would ‘sample’ my way through the day, if my parents let me. So, here is a picture of my last visit to Holland when I experienced a sudden impulse to binge on some of my favorite foods.