Bitter-what? I know, it doesn’t even sound like something that should be edible. Especially given the American/British predilection of giggling at anything which includes the word ‘balls’.

True, they are not the most sophisticated-looking of snacks; they have more than a passing resemblance to scotch eggs (something I wish the Dutch would discover as I’m missing them, along with a host of other British foods) but they are very satisfying. Especially on a cold, cold night like the ones we’re having at the moment. Just concentrate on this tasty, warming thought while you take a look at what lies inside…

Looks a whole lot less appealing once the contents is exposed.

I know what you’re thinking: “Just what, exactly, is the gooey stuff in the middle…?” I fear if I told you, you would never try them. The furthest I will go, is to tell you that they are not suitable for vegetarians. It’s a little like sausage rolls: you know they’re a meat-based product but if you were asked to point out the sausage roll part of a pig, you couldn’t do it.

Beer: a bitterballen's best friend.

They come with a small serving of strong mustard and admittedly, both the mustard and the balls vary from bar to bar, luckily the first place I tried them in, the bitterballen were tasty and the mustard was not too strong, which I prefer. You should bear in mind this element of pot luck when you take the plunge – you may have to try them twice. And don’t forget the beer.

I don’t think I’ve been in a bar where they don’t serve bitterballen, as I think we mentioned in the kaasstengels post, the Dutch enjoy deep-fried food. The closest we’ve come is a tiny, crammed one-room bar near Centraal Station; they didn’t have a kitchen but could order food from another place just down the road. We were surprised when they arrived with a small salad – obviously this cook recognises the lack of vegetables and/or colour in a plate of bitterballen.

So, don’t obsess about what they look like inside, just concentrate on the taste. And if that doesn’t work for you, you’ve already got a refreshing beer to hand.


8 thoughts on “Bitterballen

  1. I got news for you! Clicked the link of Scotch eggs; we do have them, but only in the south of The Netherlands, in Limburg and Brabant and it’s called friet-ei …maybe an occasional Amsterdam snackbar sells them too but they’re not common here. The wikipedia info on Friet-ei is in Dutch, try to google a pic!

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  3. Ha! I have some Dutch friends here in Hong Kong who are preparing for an absolute bitterballen fest tomorrow for coronation of the new king. Enjoy your two days of holiday!

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