Amsterdam #3: Adventures in Croquettes

The last time I was in Amsterdam, I made quite a few great food discoveries. This time…I guess there was no more to discover?

My eating despair could be summarized in my last dinner. I was staying at the Lloyd Hotel. The menu is very straightforward (see Post #1): headings for ‘Eggs’ and ‘Fried’, with one- or two-word descriptors. I used to rail against overwritten menus, but now I see they’re useful for stimulating the appetite.

I ordered “arugula salad” and “sweetbreads.” The waiter cocked his head slightly, then nodded and walked off. A bit later, the salad arrived. Two minutes later, along came a small plate with two croquettes.

I’ll pause here to explain croquettes (kroketten) a little bit. They’re wads of really thick white sauce with some unidentified bits of meat, shaped into a bloated-Vienna-sausage form, then rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fried. Kids and old people put two of them on a fluffy white roll and call it a sandwich. I’ve had good ones, and I’ve had horrifying ones.

Last spring, I noticed the Spanish eat them too. I assumed they were a French thing. But I met a French woman on this trip who shuddered at the mere mention and said that in France, croquette means ‘dog biscuit.’ I surmise the kroket-croqueta link was forged back when Spain ruled the Netherlands. Maybe the various Old Master painters who went to Spain to pain for the court brought the fried nuggets back? Gastro-historians, please investigate.

So I thought these croquettes I received with my salad were some kind of comped appetizer, even though the Dutch don’t play that game. I ate them, and waited. And waited. Eventually, I realized I was full anyway, and hauled myself off to bed to digest.

I would write some funny kicker here, but it seems more accurate to leave it as is, on that fairly dismal note.

Six utterly uninspiring words:

Sausages in the train station HEMA. Are these meant to be brought as hostess gifts? This particular type of sausage was memorialized on a postage stamp recently, by the way.

Well, at least the liquorice isn’t a total loss. Hey–what?!

Earlier:
Amsterdam #1: Photos
Amsterdam #2: Two Examples of Dutch Literalism

10 comments

  1. Zora says:

    Oh, man–I sound like such a grump in this post–I wrote it last week before the post-trip dislocation wore off, I guess is the problem.

    There are good Dutch sandwiches, by the way. Very simple, just with butter, but with very nice rare roast beef, for instance. But your average broodje…sigh.

  2. Mark says:

    Sorry, I probably could’ve helped you out a bit more in the “new discoveries” department, but I was broke and busy and supposed to be somewhere else, etc.

    And yesssss there are good Dutch sandwiches, not even including the goodness of warungs and tokos. I think somewhere like Loekie is a good place to reinvigorate your enthusiasm for Amsterdam ‘wiches.

    But, yes, I understand. No one said that eating here was easy (;->).

    http://www.loekie.net/_site1156/images/Favorietenbroodjes.pdf

  3. Jeremy Gray says:

    My low-point Dutch sandwich was at Kapitein Zeppo’s. Lovely drinking joint, sure, but a lonely slice of ham slapped between two dry, naked buns…? My palate still shudders.

  4. I don’t remember eating especially well in Amsterdam, except for Indonesian food, which is another example of the colonized improving the colonizer, perhaps. In any case, croquetas are mostly bechamel (butter, flour and milk), and I’ve never seen anyone put them between two slices of bread, so I’ll have to try that out. It could be delish! : )

  5. Zora says:

    Alice, it was the bechamel that made me think the French were behind the croquettes! (Well, that and the Frenchie name.) It makes no sense. Unfortunately the Dutch don’t usually do the nutmeg part of the bechamel, which is always so nice. I admire your adventurous spirit, but please don’t blame me if your croquette sandwich is not all you’d hoped…

    Mark, I keep spacing on Loekie! I have still never been there… I’m working on this theory right now that, counterintuitively, Cancun is for advanced travelers–I mean, anyone can love Tulum. Likewise, maybe we have to flip it and say Amsterdam is for advanced food-obsessives–it takes effort and care, unlike, say, France.

  6. Zora says:

    And Jeremy–I feel your pain. It’s absurd just how many restaurants in Amsterdam can be described as having charming ambiance and soul-crushing food.

    Dorothy, glad you liked the licorice! (And don’t mean to knock you, as both an advanced traveler and Tulum fan! )

  7. Darrin says:

    Croquettes — so that’s what they’re called. I ended up with one of those by opening a little coin-op door at Febo. I still wonder why the gravy didn’t squirt out while it was frying, like the cheese from mozzarella sticks. Some kind of breadcrumb-surface-tension mystery. If you know the answer, please do share.

  8. Zora says:

    Alas, Darrin, I have no idea what keeps the croquette’s structural integrity.

    I tried making some myself a while ago. They sucked–all the goo did in fact ooze out. Here’s the post, if you’re curious–scroll down about halfway. Sorry there are no pictures of the empty failure of my croquettes.

    I think I just did not have enough nerve, and didn’t make my white sauce as much like cement as it should be.

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