North Sea Food

You've cycled all morning, visited museums and castles all afternoon, you've slept well and woken up hungry.  What's for breakfast?  Breakfast in a Zeeland or Flanders B&B or hotel is usually a good deal and will tend to include coffee or tea, the usual cereals, boiled eggs, dried meats (ham, salami), breads, yoghurt, cheese (often slices of processed cheese) and fruit juice. 

Now the most important meal of the day is out of the way, let's consider the rest.Raw herring

If you need a translation guide for restaurants etc then use this Dutch Food link, it is multi-lingual.  Dutch or Flemish meals are generally similar to other Western European meals.  For many years Dutch food had a reputation for being bland and boring but more recently (ignoring fast food joints of the type that deep fry sausages and chips) the quality has gone up significantly.  Belgian food, outside of top-end Brussels restaurants at least, typically meant mussels, chips (fried in horse fat) and mayonnaise, but fortunately international cuisine has come to Belgium and the mussels are still good.  Fast food remains easily available and full meals are expensive but pleasant.  I have yet to mention apple pie which is widely available in Holland and the neighbouring parts of Belgium.  A slice of deep filled pie is the perfect snack when you need an energy boost mid ride.  

Three fishy dishes you may want to think about, or even avoid, are pickled herring (soused or rollmops), raw herring with raw onion and smoked eels. Maybe try them just for the experience.

The majority of menus in the area offer a range of

  • salads
  • soups
  • meat or fish as a main course with vegetables Apple Pie
  • potatoes or noodles
  • puddings ranging from pancakes to doughnuts.
Other specialities include
  • hard or semi-hard cheeses with or without herbs
  • interesting wholemeal breads
  • "stampot" - mashed potato with mashed root vegetables
  • pea soup
  • "hotspot" - slow cooked stew with smoked meat
  • sauerkraut, with a wide range of herbs, spices and other vegetables
  • pastries
Vegetarian dishes are widely available and vegetarianism is well understood. 
Menus may well be in English, but if not then the staff will take the time to explain the dishes.  There are lots of Indonesian restaurants (the benefits of colonisation!) and ricetafel (a variety of rice based dishes with spicy sauces) is a good filling meal at the end of a day's ride.
Lastly, and importantly for us Brits, tea isn't too difficult to come by, particularly green tea and herb teas.  However, hotels and B&Bs seldom provide tea-making facilities in the bedrooms so you may wish to pack a small immersion heater, a mug and a few teabags.  

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