Dutch Lunch

Lunch is another bread and butter meal, the same as breakfast, perhaps served with thinly sliced cold meats. More coffee, tea, milk or buttermilk. An "uitsmijter" will satisfy your hunger pains. It consists of slices of bread with slices of cheese or meat, topped with fried eggs. In winter a simple order of Dutch pea soup (erwtensoep) will satisfy your hunger and re-charge your batteries.

Lunch usually consists of bread of some sort. Many different types of bread are available in the Netherlands: from very dark wholemeal or rye bread to white bread, and from large loaves to tiny, round rolls, topped with poppy seeds. Bread is also available in sweet varieties: currant bread (with currants, raisins and candied peel), or sugar bread (sticky sweet bread filled with melted sugar).

At three or four o'clock in the afternoon it is usually time for tea. This is again accompanied by something sweet - a slice of cake, a biscuit or a chocolate.

Aperitifs are sometimes drunk at around five o'clock. Non-alcoholic drinks - such as fruit juices or mineral water - are served along with jenever (a Dutch speciality, distilled from juniper berries), beer, sherry and red or white wine. Savory snacks are usually served too - pieces of liver sausage, cheese and salted peanuts.

Tea Time

4 p.m. is time for tea. Be sure to try a delicious Dutch pastry ("gebak") or a piece of "vlaai" from the province of Limburg. If you walk past a caf‚ or small restaurant that advertises "poffertjes", be sure to walk in and try these mini-pancakes smothered in butter and powdered sugar. If you’re in the mood for a snack while on the move, grab a cone of French fries (patat) smothered in mayonnaise or peanut butter sauce. Try it before you judge!

The "borrel" at 5 p.m.

5 p.m.: time for a "drink", a "borrel", as the Dutch call it. A glass of beer, a nip of Dutch jenever (Dutch gin), a glass of wine or sherry accompanied by cheese, nuts, or crackers. A favorite snack is "bitterballen", deep-fried breaded meat balls, eaten by toothpick and dipped in mustard. Mmmm! Lekker (as the Dutch say!)

Speaking of mustard: In the picturesque restored village of Zaanse Schans, you can visit a genuine mustard mill and see how mustard seeds are actually ground into the delicious result. The Zaanse Schans mustard is well worth tasting and purchasing!

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