The Dutch believe that Amsterdam is "built on the ridge of the herring." This simple fish found in the North Sea has played a decisive role in the fate of the city, turning a small fishing village into the largest shopping center in Europe. Today the Dutch herring is famous all over the world. Tourists who find themselves in the capital of the Netherlands should definitely enjoy the local delicacy, which has become a gastronomic symbol of the country.
- Linguistic reference: herring in Dutch is called haring, in English - herring
Where to buy and how to eat correctly
Finding a Dutch delicacy in Amsterdam is easy all year round. Herring is sold in special stalls or pavilions with signs "Haringhandel"located throughout the city, and is considered the undisputed leader among the variety of street food available. You can also buy a treat in supermarkets or in the city market.
The inhabitants of the Netherlands generally tend to eat "on the go" and long, ceremonial meals have never been part of their national traditions.
The places where the herring are sold are located in the central part of Amsterdam:
- Rob Wigboldus Vishandel is the most popular shop and the best according to Tripadvisor reviews, literally 650 meters from the station. Save the address: Zoutsteeg 6... Open from 08:00 to 17:00 hours. I advise you to buy a classic sandwich (herring with onions and pickles) on a white baguette, which costs only 3 euros. Be sure to then write in the comments if you liked my tip.
- Frens Haringhandel fast food restaurant (Dutch Herring), located next to the Flower Market at: Koningsplein, 1017 BR... It works all days of the week until 17:00, on Sunday and Monday the institution opens from 12:00, on other days from 11:00.
- Volendammer Haringhandel Jonk Mobile Cafe, located at: Spui 7, close to the Waterstones bookstore.
- Fast food Stubbe's Haringlocated within walking distance (in the northeast direction) from the central station at the address: Singel Haarlingersluis, 1013 GA.
- Fish Pavilion Haring & Zolocated on the street Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 226, next to the Albert Heijn supermarket, the Royal Palace, which is a short walk away, can also serve as a landmark. Open from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm all days except Sunday and Monday.
Despite the indicated opening hours, many pavilions are already closed by the evening.
I recommend not to postpone tasting the Dutch delicacy until the afternoon, and come at lunchtime.
Dishes of lightly salted herring are completely consistent with the style of fast food: the fish is placed between slices of bread or inside hot dog buns (Broodje haring), and also offered as an independent delicacy on a cardboard plate.
An obligatory addition is finely chopped sweet onions and pickles. Herring is eaten mainly with hands, sometimes they use a special device that resembles a double toothpick.
Remember that you cannot drink beer next to herring trays on the street - the police will definitely write you a fine of 95 euros per person.
A good guide will tell you where you can eat herring not on the go, but in a restaurant, washing it down with craft beer.
By the way, I invite all gourmets to my author's tour of beer garden amsterdam.
The national Dutch way of eating fish deserves special attention: the herring carcass is held on the tail, lifted up, and, with its head thrown back, is sent entirely into the mouth.
The Dutch delicacy is prized for its high content of vitamins A, C, D and group B. It is a real storehouse of omega-3 fatty acids that normalize the functioning of the brain, circulatory and cardiovascular systems. So a trip to Amsterdam can be not only exciting, but also healthy.
When the season and the holiday are herring
Experienced travelers, fans of gastronomic tours, and now you know that the period from the end of May to July inclusive is the time of the catch, but you can fly to Amsterdam to taste herring all year round.
It is in the last month of spring that the new herring catch season begins. The fish at this time is considered especially tasty: it reaches its optimal size, its fat content increases to 20%, while valuable stocks are not given to the offspring, since the spawning period begins in early August. The Dutch call this herring "virgin" (maatjes haring) and honor it as a special delicacy.
Delicate, freshly caught fish is salted in a special brine, melts in the mouth, and has exceptional taste characteristics.
The start of the new catch season is widely celebrated by the locals every year. In honor of this event, a festival is organized, date - floating, and falls on one of Saturday in June... In 2019, the holiday will be celebrated on June 15th, don't miss it.
The national holiday also has another name - Flag Day (Vlaggetjesdag). V The Hague large-scale entertainment events are held: the first ship to come from the sea with herring meets with great honors, harbors and nearby streets are decorated, noisy folk festivals, theatrical performances, horse races, live music concerts are held. Everywhere there are stalls with a new catch of herring (Hollandse Nieuwe) and traders, dressed in national costumes, offer to taste the Dutch delicacy.
The once-old tradition of handing over the first barrel of fish to the royal family has changed somewhat over the years. Nowadays, a solemn herring auction is being organized. The price of the most expensive first barrel with a catch can reach several tens of thousands of euros. All proceeds go to charity, and the barrel is donated to the royal family - they usually come to the celebration.
The peculiarities of the geographical position of the Netherlands and the coastal capital of the state determined the type of activity of local residents: they have been engaged in fishing here since time immemorial.
From the total mass of the rich catch (oysters, lobsters, crabs and other inhabitants of the aquatic world) herring was considered the most inexpensive and wasteful fish. It served as a modest and rather tasteless food for the poor and the monks who pacified the passion for gluttony. This "gift of the sea" was distinguished by rancidity and a characteristic, unpleasant smell, which is not surprising, because up to until the middle of the XIV century, the Dutch did not have the slightest idea of how to properly salt herring.
Invention of the method of salting by Beikeltson
The situation changed dramatically thanks to the ingenuity of William Buckelsson, a fishing resident of the coastal village of Biervliet. It was he who, in the 80s of the XIV century, invented a simple and ingenious way of cleaning and salting herring. Beikeltson guessed to remove the gills and entrails, which caused the taste of bitterness, and made preservation right in the sea, on the deck of the ship. Freshly caught fish was tightly packed into barrels, while each layer was evenly sprinkled with salt.
Such a simple, but revolutionary method of canning for that time quickly gained incredible popularity throughout the country. In honor of the author of the recipe, the herring, salted in Dutch, was named "backling". Her fame spread rapidly throughout Europe. A real herring boom began, thanks to which the Netherlands were enriched: tons of fish were exported to different countries of the world, trade flourished, bringing huge amounts of money to the treasury.
Willem Jacob Beikelzon died in 1397 and was buried with great honors by his compatriots. It is a known historical fact that Emperor Charles V himself came to bow in 1556 at the grave of a simple fisherman., thus giving a tribute of respect and gratitude to the person who managed to bring prosperity to an entire country, which already in the 16th century turned into a powerful maritime power.
A gastronomic delicacy in painting
The 16th-17th centuries became for Holland not only an era of economic recovery and prosperity, but also a flourishing of culture and painting. This country gave the world a large number of artists who worked in the genre of still life, which subsequently gained immense popularity throughout Europe. Favorite dish - herring traditionally occupies a dominant place in many canvases by Dutch masters.
One of the most famous is the work of Joseph de Bray. The painting is called "Praise to the Herring" and is now in the gallery of old masters (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) in Dresden.
In the foreground - fish cut into pieces, glasses with different types of beer, mouth-watering slices of rye bread, all the objects are painted so masterly and realistically that it seems as if you can stretch out your hand to taste the dishes. In the background is a white marble slab, framed by herring, engraved with a poem of praise about a renowned national delicacy.
Did you like herring in Amsterdam? Share your feedback in the comments!