Typically Dutch

Anyone who thinks of the Netherlands as a foreigner gets visions of windmills, clogs and tulips. Dutch tolerance, or ‘the country where everything is allowed’, is famous. Combined with typical Dutch traditions such as Delft blue, cheese making, eating a raw herring and pulling a croquette from the vending machine, a nice picture of the characteristic Netherlands emerges. The Netherlands in a nutshell!

Delfts blue

Delft blue is a type of tin-glazed pottery with blue paintings that is traditionally made in Delft and is very popular all over the world. Around the 17th century, Delft blue experienced a heyday and in the present time the tiles, vases, crockery, clogs and figurines have a very extensive mass production aimed at tourists. Delft blue is still produced in the authentic way.

Dutch tolerance

What we tolerate as a society is being reexamined again and again. Dutch people are often proud of their tolerance and freedom of expression. As early as the 17th century, the Netherlands was known for its religious freedoms that did not apply elsewhere in Europe. The freedoms of values were self-evident at the end of the last century. Our country is still known for a tolerant drug policy, a flexible asylum policy and the ability to engage in peaceful negotiations. However, at the beginning of this century there was an increased call for norms and values and recent social and political developments have seen a change in the general tolerance for which the Netherlands has traditionally been known.


Almost every Dutch person loves licorice, but you don’t have to mention it to foreigners. Licorice is made from licorice root, sal ammoniac and sugar and in the past licorice was bound with gum arabic (a type of resin), now modified starch instead. The typical taste comes from the licorice. Licorice has traditionally been known as medicinal, mainly for cough complaints. Nowadays it is believed that licorice can cause high blood pressure due to a change in the salt balance in the body. Licorice is also eaten in Northern Europe, but to a lesser extent. It is virtually unknown elsewhere in the world.


The flower that is undoubtedly associated with the Netherlands is the tulip. The tulip bulbs grow well in Dutch soil. It is one of our most important export products and ‘the’ trademark of the Netherlands. Relationships all over the world often receive tulip bulbs as gifts from Dutch people and no foreigner avoids visiting the bulb fields (and the Keukenhof) when visiting the Netherlands. The tulip is not originally Dutch but Turkish! The first tulip bulbs came to the Netherlands in the 17th century, where they became very popular.


The Dutch croquette was first made at the beginning of the last century by baker Kwekkeboom in Amsterdam who, after a visit to France, discovered cheese and vegetable croquettes and imitated them in the Netherlands with beef. This invention became extremely popular and remains so after a century. The croquette is usually seen as a snack that you get from the vending machine in a typically Dutch way.

Dikes and water

A dike is a constructed water barrier that protects an area against high water levels and waves. The Netherlands is largely below sea level and our dikes, as it were, guard our country, you can find them both at the sea and on the rivers. Special examples are the Delta Works and the Afsluitdijk. In the distant past, the Dutch were forced to work together in the fight against water, which is why the Netherlands has traditionally been known as a water country. Thanks to King Willem Alexander’s involvement, there is even a new concept: Water management, which is an umbrella name for the prevention of flooding, the maintenance of dikes, maintaining the water level, water recreation and keeping drinking water healthy.

Dutch herring

Foreigners are surprised, but we Dutch eat herring raw. Every year the first ton of new herring is auctioned in Scheveningen during Flag Day. The sea fishermen collect the herring and let them ripen in a barrel with salt. The herring is traditionally served with onions and a Dutch flag. Foreigners shudder at the idea.

The Netherlands, cheese country

Many people outside our country know the Netherlands for its cheese. Gouda has been world famous for three centuries for its Gouda cheese, which is not made in the city itself but in the region. The species owes its name to the fact that it was traded on the market in Gouda. The council of the city of Gouda kept a close eye on quality. The cheeses were weighed very precisely in the famous cheese weighing house. Traditionally, this cheese market still exists during the summer months.


Many foreigners think that we all wear clogs in the Netherlands. The reality is that only a few thousand people do this, and even then as work clothing. The old craft of clog making has all but disappeared. However, 3 million clogs are still made annually in the Netherlands, mainly for the tourist industry. In general, you used to be able to see clearly which part of the country a clog came from because each region had its own characteristics. The history of the clog is therefore still part of Dutch cultural history, and a highly sought-after object for tourists visiting the Netherlands.

Even more typically Dutch

  • Traditional costume
  • Mills
  • Hotchpotch
  • Deep fried doughnut balls
  • Cows
  • pancakes
  • Dutch Mini Pancakes
  • Peppernuts
  • Custard
  • stroopwafels
  • Sprinkles
  • split pea soup
  • Queen’s Day
  • spiced Bisquit
  • Shuffleboard
  • Orange
  • Canals
  • Marzipan
  • Stepped gables
  • To skate
  • Rusk with mice
  • Saint Nicholas

,Thinking of the Netherlands, I see yellow trains standing motionless in endless lowlands., ~AFTh. Van der Heijden