While it’s certainly possible to find authentic Dutch food in Amsterdam, the influx of immigrants from its former colonies and trading partners have ensured that delicious global cuisine can be found in the city as well. Indonesian food is extremely popular in Amsterdam. Many people prefer to order the rijsttafel–this platter featuring a wide variety of Indonesian dishes and rice is ideal for sharing. The South American country of Suriname also has a large culinary presence in the city. One traditional dish worth trying is the moksi meti, which is roasted chicken and pork stewed with green beans. Amsterdam’s street markets, such as Albert Cuypmarkt, are also great places to sample local favorites. Herring sandwiches and fries with curry ketchup abound. Not to mention stroopwafel–thin sugar cookies with melted caramel pressed in the center.
In the heyday of the Golden Age, one of the country’s most prominent exports was tulips. In 1637, some tulip bulbs cost more than ten times a craftsman’s yearly income! Though the tulip bubble has long since burst, tulips and other flowers still play a large part in the Dutch economy. In fact, 77% of bulbs traded around the world are from the Netherlands. Therefore, fresh flowers are especially easy to find in Amsterdam. Visitors can browse the colorful blossoms at the historic floating Bloemenmarkt, or take a trip outside the city to visit some of the flower farms. And of course, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the tulip-shaped souvenirs that fill the shops near Amsterdam’s major tourist destinations. The Dutch are proud of their national green thumb–though it is perhaps an unsurprising trade for a country where much of the land lies below sea level!
One iconic element of Amsterdam’s culture is the bicycle. Many of the streets have dedicated bike lanes with dedicated bike traffic lights, and this strong infrastructure means that more than half of Amsterdammers ride their bicycles every single day. It’s not uncommon to see people talking on their phones while biking, or carrying bulky objects in one arm. Many parents transport their kids to and from school in a bakfiets–a bicycle with a large bucket attached to the front, usually wide enough to fit multiple small children. It’s easy for tourists to join in on this element of Amsterdam’s culture, as there are dozens of places to rent bicycles throughout the city. Because it’s so commonplace, Amsterdam is generally a safe place to bike. But tourists should keep in mind that many Dutch bicycles are fixed gear and have no handbrakes–you must pedal backwards in order to stop. Through it may take some effort to adjust to this style of biking, it’s worth it to zip through this gorgeous city with the locals.
When it comes to tasty food, vibrant flowers, and speedy bicycles, Amsterdam really does have it all – and so much more beyond that!