I don’t really know where to start with this post – how does one begin to write about something that is so wrong, and yet so good, as the frikandel?
I would say that frikandel is a Dutch snack, except that I actually had it for the first time in France (under the name frikadelle) and I’ve also heard that it is Belgian. It is one of those things that everyone claims as their own (the Dutch say it’s Dutch, the Belgians say it’s Belgian, etc.) and yet its true origins are likely to remain as mysterious as its contents.
So, what exactly is a frikandel, you ask? Well, it’s a sort of sausage, except it it doesn’t have any skin, and it’s deep fried. This is obviously not haute-cuisine but pure, unashamed fast food. The frikandel is classic snack bar fare and also a staple in the automatic snack windows. It comes served in a paper bag or – be prepared for class – in a little frikandel-shaped plastic tray. You eat it with your fingers – no utensils necessary!
Most of the time it seems to be served plain, looking all dry, shrivelled, brown, and lonely on its disposable tray. But it can also be topped with ketchup, mayonnaise, or curry sauce. If you want to splash out, you can try a frikandel speciaal, a frikandel sliced open length-wise and stuffed with chopped onion and various sauces. You can also get a frikandel sandwich, called a broodje frikandel, which looks quite like an American hot dog on a bun.
Now for the most important question: what meat is inside the frikandel? I have posed this question several times to several different people, and I always get variations of the same answer: “Nobody knows,” or “Don’t ask,” or “You don’t want to know,” or “It’s mystery meat.”
I’ve checked the all-knowing Wikipedia, and it says: “The frikandel mainly consists of a mixture of pork, beef, chicken, and by some manufacturers, horse meat.” This description is disturbing for so many reasons. First of all, obviously, the fact that it may contain horse meat. But second of all, the fact that it “mainly consists of” at least three different meats – even Wikipedia can’t be precise about the contents of a frikandel. And third of all, it just can’t be natural to combine a pig, a cow, a chicken (and occasionally a horse) into one little log… and then fry it.