Netherlands: Eating Hollandse Nieuwe

Like tulips, red lights, and pot cookies, Hollandse Nieuwe is the quintessential Dutch experience! Also known as maatjes in Dutch, this is a special type of herring – the fish are all young immature “virgin” herring, that are salted for several days in oak barrels without cleaning them off their guts. The pancreatic enzymes remaining in fish make the herring especially mild and soft, in a sense – semi-rotten. And it’s so delicious! In season, it’s sold all over Netherlands at small stands and booths. The simplest and most Dutch way of eating maatjes is whole little fish with chopped onions – lifting the fish by the tail and lowering it whole into your open mouth from above. We ate so much of it – it was a 24/7 herring diet and nothing else (obviously there won’t be a Dutch food recap). There are other ways of eating maatjes as well, especially in neighboring northwest Germany or close to German border – with boiled potatoes, in a bread roll with sauce, or even a full-fledged restaurant-style meal of herring, green beans, bacon and onions. Delicious doesn’t even being to describe this. Totally hooked!