10 things to eat you will find in Dutch snack bars

The Dutch call it ‘een vette bek halen’ – literally ‘to get yourself a greasy gob’ or pigging out on fried food. The snack bars stock an interesting selection. Here are the most popular. Please note, the Dutch often use the diminutive form for their snacks –  a kroketje, a sateetje, a patatje, in an attempt to minimise calorific value.

1.Saté was brought to the Netherlands by people from the Dutch former colony of Indonesia. It is originally a delicate little dish of meat on a bamboo stick served with a sambal, ketjap or peanut sauce. Here it has degenerated into a few chewy skewered lumps of unidentifiable origin drowned in a sauce made with peanut butter.

2.The snack bar loempia (egg roll), nasibal (filled with rice) and bamibal (filled with noodles) are also distantly related to Indonesian food. They were made popular by the Chinese restaurants which began to proliferate in the Netherlands in the 1950s. These often employed Indonesian cooks who brought their own recipes.

Indonesian cuisine at its finest?

Indonesian cuisine at its finest?

When nasiballs and bamiballs began to be manufactured in factories their shape changed from a ball to something resembling an ice hockey puck and in their frozen state they could, indeed, be used as one.

3. A turkeystick is a kebab made with bits of turkey, chicken and onion rings, all deep fried of course.

4.Patatje oorlog/kernoorlog/open been. A patatje oorlog (chips war) is usually chips with mayonnaise, peanut (butter) sauce and raw onion.

That looks so delicious

Death by calories

If you go to Noord-Brabant or Leiden they add curry sauce to the mix and call it chips ‘nuclear war’. A patatje open been (chips festering leg wound) well, use your imagination. There are many regional variation on the sauce theme.

5. Kaassoufflé. Just that: a cheese soufflé only deep fried.

6. Kroket. Croquettes are probably one of the Netherlands’ favourite snack. They can be eaten with mustard and are great on bread. You will get points for guessing which type of meat is mixed in with the goulash type sludge that is in them. The kroket is something most foreigners in the Netherlands develop a secret liking for.

7.Berehap In the delicate language of the snack bar, a berehap is an enormous (like a bear), deep fried concoction of sliced meatball on a stick, interspersed with onion rings. The healthy option comes with pineapple.

Truly delicious

Truly delicious

8. Frika(n)del. A deep fried absurdly elongated sausage made with different kinds of meat. This snack has been around since the seventeenth century. Rumour has it that frikandellen are filled with a yummy mixture of meat from udders, cows eyes and fat. This of course is strenuously denied by frikandellen manufacturers. The truth is that frikandellen are made with what Dutch meat processors call ‘separated meat’ – ie the meat left on the bones of chickens, pigs and horses (yes, some manufacturers use a bit of horse as well) after they have been filleted.

9.Mexicano. Another weirdly shaped (it looks like a piece of meat run over by a truck) snack consisting of most of the farm yard animals, including horse.

10. Vlaamse frieten Not all snacks are the devil’s food, or Dutch. This one happens to be Belgian but the Dutch love it too.

The real deal

The real deal

Some snack bars serve the real thing: chips made from real potatoes with a creamy, home made (or close) mayonnaise. Delicious.


21 thoughts on “10 things to eat you will find in Dutch snack bars

  1. Frans

    I laughed out loud at the Mexicano description. Also, we call the sludge in the kroket ragout because that sounds french and classy.

  2. Robert

    In the north of Holland (Groningen) you will also find a delicatesse called “eierbal” (egg ball). In a egg ball a boiled egg is covered in ragout, gets the same crunchy crust as the kroket isand then put in the boiling oil. Kind of a kroket filled with egg. In some places you will also find the combination of the boiled egg that is surrounded by a “bamihap”, in this way creating a huge bamibal with an egg inside.
    Note that you will not find nor eat this snack in the summer ,because the egg will not last long enough under warmer temperatures…

  3. Mariejose

    I just read in the paper this morning that THE culinary sensation in the snackbar nowadays is “Patatje Joppie” Joppie is a sweet mayonaise with a taste of curry and small lumbs with onion taste. Especially loved by children !

  4. Jack

    The translation of loempia as ‘egg roll’ confused me, as loempia’s are normally filled with lots of vegetables and often also some meat, and absolutely never egg. I’d sooner suggest the translation ‘spring roll’. An image search suggests that egg rolls can look like spring rolls, yet often they seem to have really different ingredients as the dutch loempia.

  5. Elif

    when you refer to “chips made from real potatoes,” do you mean that friet/patat is normally made of some other processed compound?

    1. Caterina

      What I would assume the author means is that often chips are made of mashed potatoes or dehydrated potato-flakes (that’s why all Pringles chips have the same shape) or from the factory-made pre-fried, deep-frozen potatoes. The real-potato chips would be potatoes peeled at the store, then fried.

    2. John Walker

      I’m stunned you didn’t know that.
      Nearly all those frozen frites you buy almost all the commercial frozen fries are made with ‘reconstituted’ potatoes – mashed potato forced through a die of varying thickness or shape.
      They of course bear no similarity to the real thing.
      Where have you been living

  6. Evelien

    Never heard of a turkeystick?? “Kapsalon” is also very populair in the other parts of the country (I lived near Rotterdam and now in Friesland).

  7. Kirsten

    What about a ‘patatje catamaran’?
    It’s basically 2 frikandellen (‘speciaal’, so with mayonaise, curry-sauce and onions): one on each side, with chips in the middle. So that it resembles a catamaran boat!

  8. Michiel

    “Berehap”? Oh, come on! If you want to blend in, order “berelul” instead (Bear’s d*ck).
    God’s own truth! I’m not pulling your leg (or any other body part for that matter).

    1. Ivo

      @Mavadelo: The Dutch don’t know a ‘Frikadel’, what you say a frikadel is, the Dutch call a ‘gehaktbal’. The Germans call it a ‘Frikadelle’

      1. Mavadelo

        Sorry Ivo, I am Dutch and I know the difference between a meat ball and a frikadel. A frikadel is not our “balletje uit de jus” although it has similarities however where we make the gehaktbal with just egg, maybe some onions, pepper and salt, the frikadel has things like ketjap, potato and often indonesian spices like boemboe. In Indonesia it is also called perkedel.

        I understand the confusion but they are different things 🙂 You are correct that it is not well known in the Netherlands and many think it is the same as our humble meatball but it isn’t (same difference as that Bahmi and tagliatellei both are pasta ribbons yet they are both completely different products, they look similar but that is all)

    2. Ivo

      Tja, Mavadelo,
      Toch als je een snackbar (want daar gaat deze topic over…) binnenloopt en je wilt graag een gehaktbal en je zegt: “doe mij maar een frikadel” durf ik te wedden dat je een frikandel krijgt en niet die gehaktbal die je zo graag wilde hebben. Ik ben geboren in NL en heb er 37 jaar gewoond, nooit, echt nooit ben ik een frikadel tegegekomen.

      1. Mavadelo

        Klopt als een zwerende vinger (something for the proverb postings lol) when it comes to that I guess many people will pronounce it as frikadel instead of kandel. However this being a blog for those that want to read about the Dutch I felt the need to give the proper info. Not only for the foreign expat but also for the visiting “autochtoon” 🙂

        after all “een dag niet geleerd is een dag niet geleefd” ;D

  9. Pingback: Lijstjes: meningen en feiten over (on)gezonde tussendoortjes | afgezienvan

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