Poffertjes, Pancakes, and Waffles – Oh My!
Just about everywhere you look in Amsterdam, you’ll find hoards of Belgian waffle stands, pancake houses and poffertjes (tiny sweet pancakes topped with butter and powdered sugar – a traditional Dutch dessert). In America, this is often considered breakfast fare, but in Holland – that is not the case.
I spoke briefly about the pannenkoeken (pancakes) in Amsterdam in one of my last posts but I don’t think I really captured just how big of a deal they really are.
The above photo is the pancake restaurant we chose to go to on Christmas afternoon. A packed house during lunchtime, these restaurants were always full during dinnertime too. Ordinarily, I don’t think I would be full on pancakes alone but these pancakes were thick with a heavy topping, surpassing my expectations.
While I ordered red currant and raspberry (picture in this post), my friend ordered blackberry, that had a similar compote consistency. The menu was endless though – you could choose from savory meat pancakes or pizza pancakes, or just about any fruit under the sun (even kiwi!) You could even get ice cream if you wanted…like I said, anything.
Now, I happen to like my pancakes light, crispy and airy (like the Swedish pancakes I’ve written about in posts past) so I didn’t know that I would start having cravings for Dutch pancakes. They weren’t your typical buttermilk pancakes either, they were probably more like these. But overall, my point is: I appreciated their popularity.
Next I noticed the Belgian waffles. You could find these just about anywhere dipped in all sorts of flavors like chocolate, white chocolate and even strawberry. You could order them cold or hot with fresh sauce…whatever you wanted.
I ordered a cold strawberry waffle for a steep 4 euro at a stand in Leidseplein (a popular area in the outskirts of the main city center). It was good, sweet, but good. And all the while eating it I couldn’t help but think to myself: “I could swear we’re in Holland, not Belgium…” It really just felt like they copied much of the Belgian culture. But neighbors are neighbors and if yours happens to specialize in waffles that are great, I’d guess I’d do the same.
Lastly, the poffertjes. I read in many a place that you’re supposed to have these for dessert. For some reason I never tried them (I’m mad at myself for this) but I did happen to smell and witness the popularity at the poffertjes stands I would pass by. A guy made them from scratch outside and they really did look tasty – I could see how they would make for an excellent dessert.
In all my time in Amsterdam (a little over 3 days), it took me awhile to get a handle on what Dutch cuisine really meant. While I saw many of the food items I listed here, I would have to say that pancakes, waffles and poffertjes were among the most prevalent.
I mean hey, they dedicated a whole canal cruise to pancakes!