Brian & Ann's European Experience

Monday, December 20, 2004


Today was one of the 5 cloudless days in the Netherlands, and Ann and I took a stroll through the Kerstmarkt (Christmas Market) which had been set up on the main shopping street in the middle of town.


Every year, for three days they fill up the already congested Main St. with all sorts of stalls, keep most of the shops open all weekend, entertain the masses with live bands at night and roaming bands all dressed up like Santa playing holiday music. It’s a lot of fun actually. AND, it’s some great eating.

To get into the spirit, and do my part to stimulate the Dutch economy, I gladly purchased (and quickly consumed):


  • some chicken satay with a fantastic peanut sauce
  • a sandwich of thinly sliced grilled ham off the bone
  • a plate of poffertjes

For those of you ignorant in the culinary traditions of the Netherlands, you aren’t missing out on much. Poffertjes however, are the exception to the rule. Poffertjes are tiny pancakes that are cooked just enough to be soft and stick together, and are covered with butter and powdered sugar. They are about an inch and a half across and delicious. At a fancy poffertje restaurant (of which we have been to two already in the center of town) you can get them with various toppings like warm cherries, vanilla, rum, etc. You get about twelve to fifteen on a regular portion and a cute little three pronged plastic fork to spear them with (which bears a striking resemblance to the plastic implement used by the Dutch to eat their packages of French Fries, which they do not condescend to eat with their fingers). The poffertje chef has a large pan with poffertje dimples into which he pours batter, and after only a minute or two, while the tops of the little pancakes are still liquid, he quickly goes down the columns sticking a small metal knife into each half-cooked reservoir, and flips them over with a tiny flick of his wrist. Truly, a dough artiste.

Ann and I bought our poffertjes from a stand run by the guy who works in our mail room (and apparently moonlights as a poffertje-iste. I said hi to him in Dutch, but threw Ann in front of me like a human translator shield when he started speaking back. He offered to give us a free topping of rum, and Ann had to enter into a tedious explanation that her husband didn’t drink alcohol, which involved far too many hand gestures and I’m sure entertained the other fifteen people in line.

One final note about poffertjes, I have decided to make them the theme for my weekly themed lunch outing. Every week I like to make sure I get out of the office (and away from the cheap but limited work-subsidized cafeteria) and have a nice sit-down lunch. In the states this was called Indian Thursday. Not surprisingly, we had Indian. In the Netherlands, in keeping with the tradition of selecting an ethnic cuisine, I have instituted the new tradition of Poffertjes Thursday.

Sadly, there are simply no Indian restaurants in Dordrecht. Anywhere.

But that is a topic for a different rant.