The Netherlands is famous for cheese-making, the red-rind bound Edam (Edammer) being the most well-known. Indeed, the Dutch themselves comment that their love of cheese and dairy in general has contributed to their status as the world’s tallest people – on average, Dutch women stand almost 1.71 metres (5.6ft) tall, and its men 1.84 metres (6ft).
Traditional dishes include erwtensoep, a thick pea soup cooked with ham or sausage and hutspot, a potato-based stew to which klapstuk (lean beef) is sometimes added. Seafood is also hugely popular, particularly oysters, mussels, herring and freshwater eel. For breakfast and lunch, the Dutch generally eat broodjes, small buttered rolls usually filled with ham and cheese or beef. Although the Netherlands has numerous restaurants serving international cuisine, for authentic Dutch dishes, look for the ‘Neerlands Dis’ sign, which identifies restaurants specialising in the native cuisine.
The Dutch are a nation of beer drinkers with home grown brands such as Heineken, Grolsch and Amstel being among the most popular. Also a favourite is Dutch gin, jenever, a colourless spirit distilled from grain or malt, usually enjoyed neat.