Last year we went to Amsterdam and I did three posts about food (which can be seen here, here, and here). We went there again in October and – surprise – we continued to eat. This time we did a lot more cooking in our apartment, partly to save money and partly to enjoy the really wonderful produce and ingredients available there.
We learned from the owner of an antique shop that The Netherlands has an enormous food-growing area near Den Haag (The Hague) and in fact supplies a lot of food to Europe. You wouldn’t think so – I mean, it freezes in a serious way in the Netherlands – but they have developed some pretty efficient greenhouse techniques so even in the dead of winter it’s easy to get delicate produce like fresh mint (a staple in virtually every cafe for hot mint tea) and tomatoes (homemade tomato soup is hugely popular).
Our rented apartment sat a block from the Westerstraat Market and three blocks from the Lindengracht Market/Noorderkerk Market, so twice a week we got to prowl around and look at fresh produce, breads, cheeses, pasta, fish, sausages, poultry, and a lot of other wonderful foods. In addition, conveniently around the corner were two good supermarkets, an organic/gourmet store, and a daily produce stand.
This was the first time we visited in autumn, and the markets had some differences.
Bread and cheese are huge staples in the Netherlands so it’s not a surprise that they make more kinds of bread than anyone can imagine, primarily whole-grain but also some white breads – nothing soft and spongy like in the US, though. Specialty types are also popular, like pizza bread, olive bread, cheese bread, as well as sweet breads like raisin, fig, etc.
This doesn’t even begin to show the many, many kinds of cheeses available. The cheesemongers will always happily give you a taste.
Since autumn was here, we saw a lot more emphasis on winter produce.
Enormous multi-colored carrots.
And more mushrooms – wild and cultivated – than I’ve ever seen here.
Loads of fresh-cured olives and spreads.
Oysters from France and England.
“Stuks” means “pieces.”
In the US, fresh pumpkins are almost exclusively for jack o’lanterns. In Europe, they’re for eating. I bought two, each about the size of a large grapefruit, and made curried pumpkin soup.
We could not believe this: three boxes of raspberries for 98 Euro cents (about $1.40).
Since the weather was getting cooler, you could buy a cup of hot soup at the market.
Sweet quick breads, to be purchased and eaten on the spot.
In front of Cafe Thijssen is s statue of Theo Thijssen, a writer and educator. On market day, he holds up kale and cabbages.
Fresh tomatoes (the brownish ones were especially good).
Winter squash, turnips, pumpkins – these are foods for a long winter.
More pictures of Amsterdam foods to come.