Typically, Dutch dishes are quite hearty, appropriate given the cooler temperatures. A traditional specialty is called snert or erwtensoep, a thick green soup made with split peas, carrot, onions and celery, and filled with smoked sausage and cubes of bacon. Folklore suggests that the soup is only ready to eat when it’s thick enough to hold a wooden spoon upright.
Seafood is also popular in the Netherlands, particularly herring, which is available both fresh and pickled. When in season, fresh herring can be bought from pushcarts in the city streets, while it is also pickled and available year round. Smoking is another traditional technique used to cure produce, used for both seafood (smoked eel) and meats (smoked bacon).
Whether boiled, fried, mashed or roasted, potatoes accompany most main meals, making them a key ingredient in Dutch cuisine. Stamppot is an all encompassing name given to "mashed potatoes with vegetables", often mixed with carrot. Borrowed from neighbouring Germany, sauerkraut is another common side dish made from shredded and pickled cabbage.
Dutch desserts are said to be more colourful than their savoury dishes, with over 25 different varieties of pancakes, including poffertjes, very small pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar, topped with fresh fruit or sweet syrups. Pastries are equally as popular, often filled with almond paste – a classic Dutch ingredient.
On a global scale, Dutch drinks have also made a significant impact. In the 1700s, there were more than 700 breweries in the Netherlands, and in 1873 the first Heineken beer was poured. The Dutch were also responsible for brewing jenever, a straight gin made from the juniper berry.