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As an Australian who spent his teenage years living in Amsterdam, I'd like to encourage TechEd visitors to sample some of the strange delights of the Dutch fast food cuisine. Forget McDonalds & try something new!

1. Walk into a cheese shop (yes, they have shops that sell nothing but cheese) and sample the very young cheese ('jong') and the very old cheese ('oud belegen'). The young cheese is so juicy you can almost squeeze the milk out of it. The old cheese is bitey, rich and crumbly. Komijnenkaas - cheese sprinkled with cumin seeds - is also a taste sensation.


2. You HAVE to try the chips / fries ('patat'). Typically you buy them in bags or paper cones from street vendors. The toppings are what make them special : Mayonnaise, Tomato Sauce, Satay sauce (yum) and a heart-stopping combination of all three called 'patatje oorlog' (war fries).

3. Holland is one of the few countries in the world where the idea of eating 'out of the wall' caught on. In snackbars you occasionally see a wall made of small glass compartments, each filled with small deep-fried delicacy. You put your coins through the slot and open a little glass door to grab your food. Try 'kroket' (a crumbed rissole of meat ragout - pictured below) or 'frikandel' (a thin meat sausage; looks disgusting, tastes quite nice).


Be warned: the moist insides of a kroket can occasionally be hotter than the surface of the sun.

4. There is a homewares store called HEMA that traditionally sells a fat juicy smoked sausage ('rookworst') out the front of each shop. It can't be good for you, but it is absolutely delicious ('lekker').

5. The Dutch also have the richest, creamiest chocolate milk I have ever tasted. You can even get this served on ice in pubs. Just ask for 'chocomel met ijs'.

6. If you can find a street vendor in November selling this, try the raw herring with onions ('haring met uitjes'). For (strong tasting) fish lovers only!


7. Poffertjes - those fluffy, tiny pancakes served with icing sugar - are already conquering the world, so I won't mention them here.

8. Salty licorice (drop) is a tasty addictive treat. Typically sold in bags or rolls. Suck on them during long keynote speeches and  you will be hooked.

If you make any new culinary discoveries while in town, feel free to add them below!

Enjoy Amsterdam and please remember to look both ways before crossing a bike path....

Paul Bakker