Dutch cuisine is a tad underwhelming, and for foody expats grocery shopping in Holland can be a disappointing and stressful experience, especially if you can’t understand the lingo on the packaging.
But thanks to two American writers (of European extraction) and their somewhat biblical Food Shopper’s Guide to Holland, a maiden voyage to a Dutch supermarket need no longer result in you wanting to open a vein.
Food groups and ingredients are split into chapters so that everything you could possibly want to look for is easy to find, and described in both Dutch and English. There is also plenty of good information about speciality shops and what they are called by the natives.
A thoroughly comprehensive appendix contains further details on where to buy household items and kitchen supplies as well as an extensive grocery vocabulary and an index of international food shops throughout the Netherlands.
Apart from its general usefulness, what I really liked about this book is its cheerful tone. Authors Ada Koene and Connie Moser clearly loved researching and writing their book and you get the feeling they really felt there was a big need to help out the expat sisterhood with the tricky task of food shopping in a foreign land.
My only quibble is that the Netherlands isn’t quite the culinary treasure trove that Koene and Moser enthusiastically suggest and in reality newcomers to Holland are likely to be disappointed if they expect the range and quality of food products on offer in their home country.
Sure, any ingredient can be found if you look hard enough, but realistically this will require scouring ethnic stores and international shops throughout a city rather than locating everything in one supermarket.
Having said that, the Food Shopper’s Guide to Holland is enjoyable and interesting to read and a truly helpful guide for any newcomer to Holland and if you’re sensible enough to peruse it before your first excursion to Albert Heijn, you should find the experience a little less perplexing.