Smells Fishy

Note the statue: the man is being fed a whole raw herring by his wife.

Yesterday my friend and co-worker took me for lunch at the fish bar downstairs. This is not my first post about fish, and seeing how much the Dutch like fish, it probably won’t be my last.

It’s common to see fishmongers (vishandel in Dutch) in markets and shopping malls selling a smorgasbord of seafood. It’s mostly fish – more varieties of fish prepared in more ways than you ever knew possible.

These are basically fast-food places (should we call it “fast fish”?). You will be served your fish on a disposable plastic or foil tray with a napkin and a plastic fork and you will eat it standing up (at a counter if you are lucky). Nothing on the “menu” will set you back more than a few euros.

Raw herring served with raw onion and pickles as garnish. And a Dutch flag!


I went mainly to try the haring (herring) which is in season.  The first season catch of herring (in late spring / early summer) is cured in brine and eaten raw.

I had heard that it is traditional to eat the so-called Hollandse Nieuwe (Dutch New) by holding it by the tail and chomping down, finishing it off in a couple bites. (If you are as disturbed by this as I was initially, it might make you feel better to know that the head, intestines, and scales are removed prior to consumption.)

Fast fish food at a fish bar.

It all sounded pretty gross but, in the spirit of trying all things Dutch, I wanted to give it a try. I ended up getting off the hook quite easily because this fish bar chopped the raw fish into bite-sized pieces and served it on a tray with diced raw onions and sliced pickles. It was super tasty and much less scary and weird than I was expecting!

In the photo, you can see I’m also eating a tray of kibbeling (fried fish chunks) accompanied with a garlic sauce. It was a pretty fishy lunch…


About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.
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One Response to Smells Fishy

  1. Pingback: Let’s Have Dutch Tonight? « What the Dutch

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