Monday, April 30, 2012


One of the highlights of Dutch food--and by highlights, I mean something almost everybody can enjoy, even if they are food snobs--is Dutch strawberries.  These wonderful pink-ish delights are to be found in May and June, last for exactly 2 days in the fridge, are one of the most expensive fruits on the market, and are worth every last euro-cent.   Somehow, they always contrive to be perfect, unbruised and deliciously red while at the (super)market, and somehow, by the time you get them home, half of them will be bruised and their delicious scent will be fading, and in two days, the first traces of white fuzz will be upon them. 

And yet I keep buying them.  There is something unique to Dutch strawberries--the fruit is very tender, and I think they're just a tad bit sweeter than other strawberries.   And they are smaller and more strawberry-shaped than the Californian monstrosities I grew up with, with a pinkish hue.  The best ones, Karel assures me (as he used to pick strawberries for extra money), never make it beyond the picker's hands.  The second best ones are exported--probably to France, where they make a what-seems-divine strawberry tart. I have to phrase it like that because a) I don't like making tart crusts, and b) the strawberries I buy never last long enough to make it into a baked good.  If you have more willpower than I do, you could give it a go. It says a lot, then, about the Dutch strawberry when the worst of the lot is still fought over tooth and claw by hordes of strawberry-crazed Dutch people.  

OK, so maybe they aren't exactly fighting at the markt.  But that doesn't mean getting a good strawberry is necessarily a civil process.  Strawberries are a much-sought commodity in the markt, and if you have a leisurely breakfast and get there later than noon, you'll find nothing but the dregs of the day sitting sadly in their blue boxes.  If you do go to the markt for your strawberries, you'll need to blend in with the Dutch and do as they do--which is to say, "assert" yourself to the grocer (i.e., play at roller derby, sans skates).  At most stalls, strawberries are not a "help yourself" commodity, and you'll need to fight for the overwhelmed produce-picker's attention, and make sure s/he picks a good box of strawberries for you.  Things are slightly more civil in the supermarkets, but the strawberries, for some reason, don't seem to be quite so good. 

Or it could be that Dutch strawberries really aren't that good, it's just that the rest of Dutch food is so bland (and, in a worst-case scenario, terrible) that anything that tickles the palate is to be celebrated.  I don't think it really matters.  These little delightful strawberries are only available for two months (they continue to be available throughout the summer, but the quality drops off after June and they are noticeably sadder after July), and it'd be a shame not to eat them while they last.  


  1. I wholeheartedly agree that Dutch strawberries are the best strawberries I've had in my entire life. I went to Rotterdam and had dinner at Hotel New York where they were serving Dutch strawberries. I didn't understand why a plate of fruit could be so expensive (compared to the rest of the desserts) but decided to have a go - did not disappoint. Didn't even care so much about the cream it came with - it was that good.

  2. Hehe, we keep meaning to make strawberry jam, but they never last long enough in our fridge.