Regional dishes

For such a small country, the Netherlands has a lot of different local cultures. In past times, every village had its own dialect, and to some extent this is still true. I grew up in Arnhem, on the north side of the Rhine, yet had trouble understanding my grandmother who lived just across the river, some 8km (5mi) away. And close to where I live now is the village of Schijndel, the inhabitants of which have the curious habit of pronouncing "sch" as "sk". Can you imagine?!

The same regional differences appear in the Dutch cuisine. Although, like with the dialects, regional differences are slowly diminishing, there are still some dishes very local to a province, or dishes that clearly originated in a particular area. Wherever applicable, you can find them in this list.

The attentive reader will notice that I didn't include the centremost province, Flevoland, in any of the three categories. This is because the province was only reclaimed from the sea starting in the late 1930s, with some of the areas only becoming populated in the late 1970s. Its new inhabitants came from all over the country, and as such the province doesn't really have a cuisine of its own.

Northeast

Close to the German border, the Northeast features a dialect continuum between Low German, Dutch and Frisian, the latter being a language separate from Dutch native to Friesland. Being the most rural area of the Netherlands, agriculture is traditionally very important. Along many typical farmers' dishes its meat products are renowned across the country, such as the dried Metworst sausage grom Groningen and the smoked Rookworst sausage from Gelderland.

Blote billetjes in het gras (Bare bums in the grass)

Main 45min

Fryske dúmkes (Frisian thumbs)

Snack 1h

Krentjebrij (Currant gruel)

Dessert 45min

Kruudmoes (Herb mush)

Main 1h 15min

Appeltaart uit de oorlog (World War II Apple pie)

Dessert, Snack 1h 30min

Sla met karnemelksaus (Lettuce in buttermilk sauce)

Main 30min

South

The Catholic south has a strong regional identity with typical celebrations such as carnival. It used to be a poor area as a result of the inferior soil being little suited to agriculture. The same soil happens to be very good for asparagus, and the best ones are said to come from Limburg. The region has a strong comfort food tradition with many hearty stews such as hachee, while pastries such as the Limburgse vlaai and the Bossche Bol feature heavily as well.

Blote billetjes in het gras (Bare bums in the grass)

Main 45min

Hachée (Dutch beef stew)

Main 3h

Brabantse Worstenbroodjes (Sausage rolls from Brabant)

Lunch, Snack 1h 30min

West

The West is the traditional cultural centre of the Netherlands, with cities such as Amsterdam having gained great wealth in the 17th century. The spice trade brought a relatively cheap supply of exotic spices, giving rise to dishes like speculaas. Being close to the sea, seafood plays a prominent role with dishes like kibbeling and Zeeuwse mosselen famed throughout the country.

Kibbeling (Deep-fried cod chunks)

Main 3h

Zeeuwse mosselen (Mussels from Zeeland)

Main 30min

Speculaaskruiden (Speculaas spices)

Spice blend 10min

Zeeuws Spek (Bacon from Zeeland)

Breakfast, Lunch, Main 24h 45min