A is for Amsterdam

Well, the school year has started and once again I’ve decided to go around the world and through the alphabet with my kids. Last year we did a new country for each letter and had a blast, but for this year we’re doing something a bit different. I’ve decided to do one place for each letter instead of one country since this gives me more flexibility to fit in places I like and places we’re planning to visit soon. And although it was fun to visit Oman and Qatar once, I’d rather explore something new those weeks.

We started with Amsterdam for a few reasons. We missed Holland last year because I had just finished F is for France and G is for Germany and I wanted to get out of Western Europe for a while. It also seemed like a good place to start since my parents are currently traveling in Europe and will be finishing their trip this week in Amsterdam and the kids were interested in hearing about where their Nana and Papa were  going. And to top it off our town has a good Dutch deli with lots of imported foods from Holland so it was an easy place to start.

On Tuesday we looked at some of my travel photos from Amsterdam and watched a few video clips. It was a bit challenging to find tourist videos that didn’t prominently feature Amsterdam’s famous cafes or red light district, but in the end we found lots of footage of pretty canals, flower markets and bicycles. We also went to the deli to get some foods for our Amsterdam meal and supplies for our craft project.

Today we looked at some examples of Delft ceramics and picked out patterns for our craft. I had purchased small plain white tiles at Home Depot and a small bottle of ceramic paint. I had the kids draw a draft on paper in blue marker, then we got to painting. I think they turned out very well.


While the art projects dried, I started on our Amsterdam meal. I’ve been to Amsterdam three times, but to be perfectly honest, all I can remember eating while I was there was youth hostel breakfasts and loads of fries with mayonnaise. (Trust me, they taste amazing!) But that didn’t really seem like the sort of thing a responsible mom would serve her family for dinner. So I did a bit of research to see what I could come up with. One dish that kept coming up on lists of traditional Dutch foods was split pea soup or erwtensoep. This was confirmed by a relative from Holland who was kind enough to send her recipe. But what made the decision for me was finding out that another name for the soup was “snert”. Who wouldn’t want to cook something called snert? (I actually use the “funny sounding name” test to decide what to make quite often. For example, when I made a British meal last year, I chose my entire menu based on the dishes with the silliest sounding names!)

So the final menu for Amsterdam night was:

Split pea soup (Snert), meats and cheeses with fresh bread, almond pastries called Amsterdam Delights, some fruit and fresh milk, since the Dutch are some of the largest consumers of dairy products in the world. The grownups also got to enjoy some Grolsch beer (hubby’s favourite).

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The verdict? The grownups liked the soup, but the kids wouldn’t touch it. Everyone liked the bread and cheese, although the kids weren’t keen on the smoked gouda and the pastries were well received. The beer was especially appreciated.

We finished with a bedtime snack of the one other thing I remember about Dutch cuisine from my youth hostel breakfasts: bread with sprinkles.

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So that was A for Amsterdam. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a fun year!


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