It is BBQ season but the question is: How do the Dutch actually BBQ?

So the sun is finally shining, spring has officially sprung, temps have risen above freezing (at least for this week), so it is officially time to BBQ here in the Netherlands. Coming from the Caribbean, I consider myself a expert when it comes to BBQing and what it involves.

A few years back, on the first warm day of Spring we called up our friends and invited them for a BBQ.  I immediately got busy making my mom’s good old fashioned potato salad, put together a nice tossed salad, set my rice cooker on and went on to make my shopping list for the first BBQ of the season.

Going on the hunt

That list included chicken legs and ribs, the obvious BBQ staple as well as some ground beef for my homemade hamburgers, buns and perhaps a few steaks to round out the menu.  I was ready to shop, but as we pulled into the grocery store, my significant other started talking about things like Speklap and Worstjes and I gave him a sideward glance as I made a beeline for the meat department, eager to get my BBQ on.

Speklap or thick slices of bacon with lots of fat

I began to stock the cart with my meats of choice and was disappointed to see that the selection of ribs was minimal at best. I also noticed that there were several foreign looking meat products slowly filling the cart. The likes of which I would NEVER have put on my grill had I been back in the Caribbean. I mean pork chops? Really? Yes! Apparently, karbonade or pork chops is a common grilling delicacy here in tulip town. Pre made kebabs also made their way into the BBQ cart, and although shish kabobs or shashlik(in Dutch)do tend to be a common BBQ item, meatballs on a stick are NOT!

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Worstjes on the teeny tiny grill

Finally done with raiding the meat department I noticed that there was actually an alarming amount of meat products and very little of anything else in our cart.  Besides my salads & rice, I then began to wonder, what do they actually eat then? Meat? Only meat? Lucky enough I did not have to wonder for long, as my honey then deposited a massive tub of peanut sauce (Satésaus) into the cart and happily proclaimed he was “done” shopping.

Wearily I left the Jumbo and pondered how I was going to balance out the meat assortment we were about to grill up, as salad would only go so far.  And what was I going to do with that much peanut sauce, I mean we were not having Indonesian night!  I asked all these questions out loud of course and as my partner got the BBQ going he advised that all would be ok, we had everything we needed.

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Shashlick means kebabs.

Needless to say, it all turned out well…ok. We enjoyed a nice leisure BBQ and I spent the next week following a vegetarian diet to balance out all the meat we consumed. I also had leftover potato salad and plenty of rice and beans to last for days. Seems they really do just consume meat at BBQ’s.

Tips to make your Dutch BBQ a hit

Since this first BBQ I have learned several things. Tips that I think are good to pass on to my fellow non-Dutchies so that you too can enjoy a Dutch BBQ without wondering what you have gotten yourself into.

  1. Check out your local butcher, they tend to have bigger and better ribs that your local supermarket.
  2. Local markets can conjure up fresh corn on the cob if you ask in advance and it’s the right time of year.
  3. The Dutch do not grill and eat. They grill one type of meat, serve that up and then grill the next and so on, the entire BBQ is centered around the meat, and this leads to a very long and relaxed grilling experience, so be prepared to spend the afternoon/evening slowly enjoying a wide variety of meat products. **I believe this method of grilling stems from the fact that most Dutch buy teeny tiny charcoal grills that allow for minimal grilling space.
  4. Peanut sauce or Satésaus is considered a condiment! So make sure you always have some on hand in addition to your mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.
  5. The Dutch do not eat their burgers with buns! Knife, fork and beef patty is the way it’s done here, so save yourself the hassle and skip the buns, you will be the only one eating them!
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Our NOT so tiny American grill!