My Dutch companions looked somewhat askance when I ordered bitterballen.....I don't quite know why, and I didn't like to ask.
Basically, bitterballen are a minced beef stew mixed with flour and seasoning, allowed to firm in the fridge then coated with egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
You eat them by themselves (most often in pubs, I believe) dipping them in mustard as you go.
Wiki says they are eaten in the Netherlands, Belgium, Surinam and nowhere much else.
I found them rather bland (the mustard was appreciated) and (obviously) thoroughly unhealthy, but filling and warming on a freezing day.
Worth trying if the weather is as cold as it was when I visited!
This savoury snack is what the dutch like to eat with their glass of beer it is served like tapas as finger food. It is a mixture of minced beef, flour, broth and seasoning coated with breadcrumbs and fried, served with a mustard dip.
It’s hard to describe what a bitterballen actually is. First of all, it looks like a golf-ball sized hushpuppy that, according to the Dutch family I stayed with in Amsterdam, has chicken and beef within its little breaded, deep fried ball. However, as you soon find out upon biting into one, the inside is not a meat-solid inside, as would be expected! On the contrary it is a pureed filling (that is served hot so be careful when biting in) and has a couple different tastes, depending on what it is dipped in.
Typically, bitterballen are served with a side of mayo and a side of mustard. If you dip the ball into mayo, it’s a bit sweeter than if you dip it into mustard. With the mustard dip, the ball tastes like a hot dog! Without dip, the ball taste like sausage gravy that it typically used in the States for the common breakfast, buscuits and gravy. Though the texture of the inside was unexpected, the bitterballen is a nice appetizer or snack. It’s even served at the McDonald’s locations throughout Amsterdam!
OK, maybe this isn't a cultural experience which is unique to Amsterdam. But we have to say that the bars we went into (well, it was raining so we had to stay dry) were all wonderfully friendly, reasonably cheap (by London standards), with a good range of beers and often snacks as well.
The most famous snack is bitter ballen - little deep fried balls of meat and potato. Be careful - they are hot!! Also, be careful - you get addicted!
Another local snack is cheese sticks, which you dip in mustard. Sounds odd but is very tasty.
We have no idea how the Dutch manage to stay so slim - they drink good beer, eat lots of cheese and pancakes, and don't get fat? Must be all that cycling.