Napoleon Bonaparte said “an army marches on its stomach” – and so does a food blogger.
I’m seldom happier than when travelling with my mouth, getting to know a location via its food and the folk who produce it.
Food tours are a rapidly growing sector of local and international tourism and, if you pick the right one, you will have the opportunity to view a destination in an entire, fulfilling and filling, new light.
I’ve been lucky enough to do a couple of Eating Europe’s sensational Eating Italy tours (find out more here and here), so when I was offered the opportunity to check out one of its Eating Amsterdam food tours I was dead keen.
This was my first visit to The Netherlands, and I had deliberately planned our recent Europe trip for late September/early October in the hope that we’d miss out on the bulk of the tourist crowds. Unfortunately, that was not to be, as the European shoulder season for tourists is now almost as popular as peak times.
Amsterdam was crowded and at times its charms were hard to see through the bustle of foot, bicycle and vehicle traffic, but our Eating Amsterdam tour took us away from most of that into the relatively quieter residential neighbourhood of The Jordaan.
The Jordaan is a 17th-century quarter in Amsterdam whose name is believed to be derived from the French word for garden, jardin, and many of the streets and canals have botanical names.
The area was once staunchly working class and a left-wing bastion but, once property prices began to rise in the 1960s, many of the residents moved to less expensive districts. The Jordaan is now distinctly gentrified and home to galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
The Eating Amsterdam food tour took us on a gentle three to four-hour walk through the streets of The Jordaan, stopping at some of the historic and significant food spots. We also met the locals – some of whom have been running family businesses on the same site for generations.
We enjoyed everything from the delicious, tiny, Dutch pancake-like treat called poffertjes and traditional pickled herrings, to some surprising snacks from the former Dutch colony of Suriname (previously known as Dutch Guiana) and the best apple pie in the world, which has a written endorsement from former US president Bill Clinton. And cheese – of course.
Eating Europe runs tours in Rome, London, Amsterdam and Prague.
The tour guides are local food lovers, and groups are limited to small numbers. Each tour takes you into a residential neighbourhood and the food stores and cafes where the locals – not the tourists – shop and hang out.
I’ve loved all of the tours, as have the many friends to whom I’ve recommended them.
South Australian writer Amanda McInerney writes about travel and food on her Lambs’ Ears & Honey blog. She was a guest of Eating Europe for her Eating Amsterdam tour.
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