Amsterdam offers a buffet of typical foods that define the city and its inhabitants. Visitors should be open to trying as many of these tastes as they can, from sweet treats and salty frites to traditional Dutch fish and imported spicy dishes.
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Cheese-lovers will marvel at the predominance of kaas in Amsterdam. The Dutch take pride in their delicious cheeses, the most common of which are Gouda and Edam. The jong (young) variety is mild and creamy, while the oud (old) is mature and has a sharper taste. It's fair to say all Amsterdam cafés offer some sort of kaas broodje (cheese on a bread roll), and a common happy hour snack is a plate of Dutch cheese bites served with mustard. Goat cheese is also popular and often found on a tasty salad of mixed greens, walnuts, and honey. Or buy hand-crafted farmer's cheese at an Amsterdam market stand. However you choose your cheese, be sure you don't leave without tasting this Dutch specialty. Cheese also makes a great gift for foodies.
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For sweet-toothed visitors to Amsterdam, this sinful, unexpectedly rich Dutch cookie is a must. The stroopwafel (syrup waffle) is actually a thin sandwich of two buttery waffle layers stuck together with a sweet, gooey molasses. You'll find them at grocery stores, small corner markets, souvenir shops (including those at the airport so you can take home a stash). For a special experience, have a warm stroopwafel made right in front of your eyes at the open-air Albert Cuypmarkt. Your nose will be happy, too!
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Pannekoeken and Poffertjes
Dutch pancakes, called pannekoeken, are similar in texture and taste to French crepes; they're thin and made with a buttery batter that's neither sweet nor savory. The most traditional way to serve the plate-size treat is with Dutch syrup, which is strangely a bit sour. Instead, you might opt to have warm cherries, ice cream, and whipped cream, or go for meal-worthy toppings like bacon and cheese. At The Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam, you'll find dozens of topping combinations to suit every palate. They also offer poffertjes, which are much smaller, puffed pancakes traditionally served with butter and powdered sugar. During the winter holidays, poffertjes stands sit on popular squares all over the city.
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Don't dare call the tasty taters you'll see in Amsterdam "French fries." Here we refer to them as either patat (pronounced "pah TAHT") or Vlaamse frites (pronounced "FLAHM suh freets"). The latter means "Flemish fries," a nod to the northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, where these favorite snacks come from. Here the most common condiment to dip them in isn't ketchup, it's mayonnaise. Give it a try—the mayonnaise is sweeter and creamier than most American kinds. If you visit arguably the most popular frites stand in Amsterdam, Vleminckx Sausmeesters (Voetboogstraat 31, near major shopping street Kalverstraat), you can choose from many different sauces, such as curry sauce and peanut sauce.