My friend Lisa, in Amsterdam, has been telling me about how different Dutch breakfasts are from American ones. Even better, she wrote a post for us about them!
In my travels, I have had breakfast at dozens and dozens of hotel breakfast buffets. In America, the spread is pretty typical: breads (toast, muffins), cereal, scrambled eggs in a big chafing dish, some sausage and bacon, maybe some hash browns. Standard breakfast food. Order from the menu instead and you get pancakes and waffles, an assortment of egg dishes, maybe some sausage gravy. In the South, we always had grits on the buffet (I love buttered grits). Still, it is recognizably what we Americans consider breakfast food.
The only place in the US where I have run into a more international breakfast was during an extended stay at the Kyoto Grand Hotel in Los Angeles, right in the middle of Little Tokyo. The vast majority of the guests were Japanese tourists, so waffles and home fries were in short supply on the buffet table. Instead, we could get steamed rice, soy sauce, smoked fish and various vegetables to go with our scrambled eggs and toast. Worked well for me, since I am a big fan of savory breakfast fare – rice and veggies made for a pleasant change.
Breakfast here in the Netherlands is really unusual. I was surprised to find on my first trip that our hotel did not offer any hot breakfast food (other than coffee). The only eggs available were hard-boiled. There was yogurt and granola, and sometimes oatmeal, usually with fresh fruit and also fresh vegetables, which you don’t often see on American breakfast tables.
My favorite thing about breakfast here? Chocolate sprinkles! It’s weird, but it’s a common Dutch thing – I have seen a lot of our execs having them for breakfast. We’re talking about the kind of chocolate sprinkles that you put on cupcakes here in the US. On the buffet, they come in little boxes and you spread them on your bread, no butter or any other topping, press them into the bread and eat it. It’s like a Dutch poptart or something!
I don’t actually eat the chocolate sprinkles, I am just heartily amused by their existence.
Other features on Dutch buffets are meat and cheese – as in typical lunchmeat style meat and cheese. Every morning, there are also large dishes of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. My hotel also has hot croissants – plates and plates and plates of them – and they are especially good with hazelnut spread. Oh, Nutella! One of the joys of being in Europe is that little tubs of Nutella are on the table, the way we have grape jam in the US. I usually have a hard-boiled egg, a croissant with hazelnut spread, some cheese or maybe some corn flakes. We have a choice of orange juice or “tropic” juice (which tastes like mango) and coffee or tea. It’s much lighter than most American breakfasts, and much less sweet.
Until you add the chocolate sprinkles!