Dutch restaurants, especially in the big cities, rarely serve classic Dutch dishes. Instead, they tend to be oriented towards French, Italian or ethnic cuisines or fusions between different cultures. Traditional Dutch cuisine is considered to be too humble and it is true that there are very few traditional dishes. Among them are pea soup and stampott (mashed potatoes mixed with sautéed seasonal vegetables-celeriac, sauerkraut, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes-a sausage, butter and bacon). The Netherlands has traditionally been a country of seafarers and merchants, and its gastronomy reflects this openness towards the rest of the world.
Here, more than elsewhere, a link with the local area comes not from recipes and dishes, but from the choice of ingredients. The Netherlands is home to many distinctive cheeses (artisanal Gouda, for example, made with raw milk and aged for at least two years, nothing like the industrial version found around the world); very interesting livestock breeds, essential for the protection of unique landscapes like the Kempen and Drenthe heaths; ancient artisanal fishing systems, like the methods used by the Wadden Sea fishers; and many local fruit and vegetable varieties (apples, pears, carrots, cabbages, beans and more).
This is why the Slow Food Foundation, together with Slow Food Netherlands, is working to protect these products, cataloguing them in the Ark of Taste, launching Presidia to help the producers and connecting producers and restaurateurs through the Alliance. Currently there are nine active Presidia in the Netherlands.
Discover the Dutch Slow Food Presidia!
Aged Artisanal Gouda
Artisan Gouda is a very different product than the widely commercialized versions of this cheese, which are coated with a thick layer of plastic. Artisan Gouda is sweet and yellow, with a mild taste that blooms in the mouth. It has a persistent aftertaste, with a touch of acidity that is balanced by a sweet flavor of caramelized milk. The Presidium supports the two producers who continue to make Gouda cheese from the raw milk of their own cows that pasture on low peat meadows. The Presidium Gouda rounds weigh no less than 20 kilos each and can be aged from two to three years.
Production area: Green Hart region, between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht
tel. +31 104082135 - +31 104678762
fax +31 104089100
tel. +31 182586287
This native breed was once commonly found in the area encompassing northern France and Germany. Its most striking characteristics are the black streaks, called peels, distributed throughout its silver-white plumage. In the past, the Chaam chicken, whose first official description can be traced back to 1911, was raised free-range on farms south of Chaam, in the county of Breda. Some years ago, when the breed was considered more or less extinct, a group of farmers from the village of Chaam began, as a hobby, to recover the breed.
Production area: Chaam, North Brabant province
Jack en Mariette Rombouts
tel. +31 652398239
Drenthe Heath Sheep
Magnificently spiral-horned and multi-colored, the Drenthe Heath sheep is one of the oldest sheep breeds in Western Europe. Small in size, it can stay outdoors all year, and thrives on the poor, sandy soils of the Drenthe Heath. Environmental conservation is key to the management of this breed. The quality of its meat is becoming appreciated for its naturally fragrant taste, a result of the grazing on heathlands and fresh meadows. The lamb meat is sold fresh in organic markets and a line of lamb sausages has also been developed.
Production area: Drenthe province, northeastern Netherlands
tel. 0592 238080 - 06 43982190
Eastern Scheldt Lobster
The Eastern Scheldt, a deep bay in the North Sea that opens along the Zeeland coast, is rich in marine life. The Eastern Scheldt lobster, also known as the Zeeland lobster, is a member of the European lobster family. It is blue-black and when cooked, turns into a deep red. Rather than being trapped, these lobsters are caught in conical nets called fulken. The fishers carefully return small lobsters and females with eggs to the bay. Lobster that are at least 24 centimeters long, are kept in containers filled with seawater and sold fresh.
Production area: Eastern Scheldt, Zeeland
tel. +31 113302787
Kempen Heath Sheep
Kempen Heath sheep are predominantly white with an elegantly shaped head and no horns. A hardy breed, they spend their days outdoors all year round. Heathland grazing plays a vital role in preserving the valuable heath ecosystem and results in an excellent, tender meat with herbal flavors. The Presidium's goals are to preserve this sheep breed and reintroduce free-range grazing as a way of conserving the heathland.
Production area: Kempen region, southern Netherlands
tel. +31 135771008
The Lakenvelder is a very old dutch breed which became rare during the last century. It was a breed that was used for beef and milk. Originally it was bred by aristorcatic people because with its nice sign (a belt around the middle), it looked really nice in their fields around their palaces and castles. Because it was bred for its belt and its strong surviving possibilities, the quantitatvie traits were forgotten and it was not easy to survive for the Lakenvelder. Fortunately people who started to eat beef from their own Lakenvelders found out that the quality of the beef was very high. Together those farmers started the 'Stichting Lakenvelder Vlees' (lakenvelder beef society) to get a fair price for high quality beeft that is produced by small scale farmers who take care of the environment, animal welfare and agrobiodiversity. This does the Stichting Lakenvelder Vlees by buying Lakenvelder bull calves that are not good enough for breeding and put them in a brand. The also do marketing for the beef and are working on new systems like beef from older Lakenvelder cows and Lakenvelder dairy products. This project brings the consumer closer to the farm (the Lakenvelder is very well recognized), it gives new power and proud to the Lakenvelder breeders and of course it makes us enjoy an typical dutch quality product.
Production area: throughout the Netherlands
All over the Netherlands. As the Lakenvelder is bred for centuries already from Friesland to Limburg and from Noord Holland to Overijssel.
tel. +31 651950493
Traditional Limburg syrup is made using 60% pears and 40% apples that are exclusively old varieties harvested from local orchards. The fruit is boiled in a copper pot in direct contact with the flame and the juice is filtered off without adding any other ingredients. Created as a way of preserving fruit during winter, since the Second World War syrup has increasingly become an industrial product and the fruit trees growing local varieties have begun to disappear. A group of producers has recovered the traditional recipe, reintroduced the old tools and revived artisanal production.
Production area: Southern part of the Dutch province of Limburg and neighboring areas in Belgium (Limburg and Land van Herve) and Germany
tel. +31 495550076
Texel Sheep Cheese
Texel sheep are valued by farmers all over the world for their quick growth and high meat yield. Before 1850 there was another breed of sheep on the island, raised for its milk and not its meat, but which died out when farmers began to produce meat for export to England. The local cheese making tradition was almost lost along with the milk sheep. In the 1980's, one determined farmer brought new life to the island's artisan cheesemaking tradition, reviving production of Texelse Schapenkaas, a rustic cheese with a lingering elemental flavor that tastes of animal musk and the sea. The cheese's deep yellow color is evidence of Texel's rich and abundant pasture.
Production area: Texel Island
Annette van Ruitenburg
Wadden Sea Traditional Fishers
The Waddenzee is an extraordinary ecosystem running along the Dutch, German and Danish coastlines. A dense network of channels, sandy strips of land, mudbanks and salt marsh, bordered by islets that emerge from the North Sea waters, this inland sea covers over 10,000 square kilometers. Here, a group of 35 fishers still use fixed fishing gear (traps, boulters, etc.), anchored in specific places rather than dragged by motor boats. The effectiveness of these methods varies depending on the anchoring points (just a few meters can make all the difference) and their use requires a profound understanding of the environment and seabed. The Waddenzee fishers catch mullet, sea bass, smelt (which around here smell like cucumbers), flounder, crabs and oysters.
Production area: The Wadden Sea and Northsea beaches of the Wadden Islands, from the North West point of Holland to the German border.
tel. +31 513419208