If you live outside Europe, there’s a good chance that you haven’t heard of Dutch cuisine. Considering the Dutch have been world travellers since the medieval times it stands to reason that at least some of their dishes would be popular. It’s true that Gouda cheese is a popular export, Heineken is a well-known food-related brand and there is the occasional ‘Amsterdam chips‘ in Italy. Even touristy things like raw herring with onions and the stroopwafel (literally: syrup waffle) are semi-popular. But what is real Dutch food and is it worth going on a search for?
First off credit where it’s due: Rosa plans all our trips and I usually just go along. It’s an adventure not having a clue as to what you’re doing next. Also I’m lazy. That being said, this was very different from the city trips we usually do. We always travel by public transport and in Europe at least that’s not much of a problem for us. We’ve seen quite a few countries this way and none of us is really a car person, although truth be told: I’m lazy. Annnnnyyyhooo…
We spent the first night in Basel. Getting from the airport to the city is really easy, with a bus running every 7 minutes (we landed on a Wednesday morning). The city itself seemed rather staid to us. Fun fact: Basel is located at the borders of Switzerland, France and Germany and the city has suburbs that extend into these countries.
“I’ve forgotten my residence permit”, Rosa said as I waited for her on my bike. “I’ll be right back.”
I was a bit worried about making it to the ceremony on time. We should have left five minutes ago. This was important, even ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ important, and with none of the hyperbole that so often goes with that phrase.
The São Bento station’s delicately painted blue tiles depicted scenes from Portugal’s history. As we walked ahead, sombre stone buildings glistened in the light of dusk like grumpy old men judging my actions. And I felt guilty. Guilty of not expecting more, guilty of not doing my homework before the trip. I avoided their gaze as we walked from the station to our hotel through the historic centre of the city of Porto that has been around since the fourth century. I knew then that this visit was going to be about more than just port wine.