My mouth actually bled this morning when brushing my teeth because I burned the roof of my mouth the other night when eating bitterballen. Each time I eat them, I burn my mouth, but they are so good I keep going back for more.
Bitterballen are a staple on Dutch pub and snack bar menus. A bit like chips in the UK, or nachos in the US, it’s the greasy food you get with friends when having a few beers. People eat them with their fingers or toothpicks.
What is in them, you ask? Well, like a kebab, it is meat-based but its exact contents remain a bit of a mystery. No Dutch person has ever given me a straight answer as to what is inside. According to Wikipedia, it is minced beef, beef broth, flour, butter, parsley, salt, pepper, and sometimes nutmeg and/or curry powder. This mixture, after being refrigerated to make it firm, is battered in a mixture of breadcrumbs, milk, and egg and then deep-fried.
By the time the “bitter” balls (which aren’t at all bitter) arrive at your table, the outside is deceivingly room-temperature whereas the filling remains piping hot, so you are bound to burn your tongue as you impatiently devour them. Not that I’m bitter about it. (Yes, pun intended.)