Today I enjoyed one of Amsterdam’s most surprising and delicious treat’s – the Dutch pancake.
Although we know pancakes as an American breakfast food, in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands they are favorite dishes for lunch or dinner. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of pancake houses throughout this city serving locals and tourists alike – wherever you go, chances are you’re not very far from one.
I’m traveling in Amsterdam with Monograms, one of the companies in the Globus family which gives visitors a wide-open itinerary with a local host to help them find their way around the city. Because these trips give travelers total flexibility during the day, I was able to eat at “Pancakes!,” a small restaurant in an old historic home that would not hold a traditional group. But one of my fellow travel writers had read about this particular one in the New York Times, and so a foursome of us made the special trip halfway across town to try it out.
All I can say is – I’m hooked! Unlike their thick, fluffy American cousins, Dutch pancakes are wide, floppy affairs that cover a dinner plate from rim to rim. They are a bit spongier than their American cousins, and more chewy, perhaps. But their real strength is in their diversity – at Pancakes!, along with other pancake houses around town, the dish is served with a wide variety of toppings and fillings. Guests can order traditional combinations, such as pancakes with strawberries or bananas, or more savory and spicy combinations.
Today I opted for #126 – a pancake full of shredded fried bacon, sliced bananas and ground red pepper. These ingredients weren’t piled on top of the pancake, but rather cooked right into the batter. It may sound like an odd combination of flavors, but drizzled liberally with maple syrup, this pancake was a sweet, spicy and savory delight.
(Full disclosure: “Pancakes!” was not my first Dutch pancake experience – I had a bacon pancake at a local restaurant shortly after my trans-Atlantic flight landed in Amsterdam. And I may very well have another one before I leave to fly home.)