|No matter what you eat, dinner should be joined togheter|
Until WW II the Dutch main meal was made from potatoes, vegetables and ocassionally meat. After the war many immigrants came into the country. First caused by the independence of the Dutch colony Indonesia, later by a shortage of laborers in Dutch industries. The immigrants brought along their food habits which remembered them of their identity and their home country. Small Indonesian restaurants were opened soon after, followed by Greek and Italian restaurant opened by those who were not necessary as laborers anymore. The potatoes and vegetables became old fashioned and people started to cook more exotic.
Nowadays the Dutch still love to enjoy food from all over the world. When going out for dinner the Dutch can choose between Thai, Mexican, African, Japanese and so on. Most of the time meals are adapted to Dutch flavors and not even comparable to the original version which you would get when ordered in the country of origin. By that restaurants differ in price and quality.
Recently a trend towards eating more Dutch products pops up. Vegetables are reinvented (vergeten groenten) and meat from Dutch livestock is revalued as is the Dutch fish like Oosterscheldekreeft. This trend is caused by recent food insecurity and diseases but also stimulated by organizations like Slow Food. Moreover some cooks really work hard to make sure that Dutch (quality) food is valued and appreciated again by its inhabitants.
The Italian kitchen is much more traditional. In almost all restaurants the different courses consist out of very Italian products; dried ham (crudo), cheeses, different types of pasta after the starter, meat or fish for main course and sweets as pudding (panna cotta) or a bowl of fruit finished off with a strong cafe. There are definitely differences in the country but those are rooted in history and depend on – for example – the distance to the sea (meat or fish), the local climate and the wealth of the region.
Where Dutch home cooks tend to mix a lot of flavors in one meal, the Italians serve more delicate meals not mixing different flavors, but spreading them out over different courses.
Italians are proud of their kitchen and like to and do enjoy it. Either in a restaurant or in their own kitchen. Hopefully in a few years the Dutch can go shopping for dinner or dine in a restaurant while being proud too of what their country produces!