Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Oliebol

In Amsterdam, one of the signs that the Christmas season is in full swing is the appearance of the oliebol (literally: oil ball) stands. This particular one is on Museumplein. There are others all over the city. There's one at Schiphol. I used to pass through Schiphol every day going to and from work (at the company whose name must not be spoken) and I would sometimes buy an oliebol if I had enough time before I had to catch my train. Someone heard me say that once and said, "Don't eat the ones at Schiphol! Those feel like a tennis ball in your stomach." He was right, but I would still stop once in a while.

Oliebollen are really just a piece of fried bread dough. (Like a friend of mine used to say when explaining why he didn't get why people liked doughnuts. "It's just fried dough! Nothin' but fried dough." And I would say, "Yeah. It's just fried dough.") But oliebollen are denser than regular doughnuts. They really are bready. There are some plain ones, but the ones I prefer are the ones with the currants. Here's a picture of the one I got in preparation for this post. (See how dedicated I am?) The picture isn't so great because it was really cold and getting dark.
They are at their very best when they are still warm. The woman throws it in a bag and then puts some powdered sugar on top. They're usually about € ,75. Worth every penny. (I recommend closing the bag and giving it a good shake to get the powdered sugar even dispersed.)

At the same stand, you can get an appelflapje, also called an apple beignet. Fred prefers those. It's a slice of apple (cored), dipped in batter and deep fried. The good ones have something stuffed into the hole where the core was, something with cinnamon. I think Fred likes the better because there's fruit involved and seems healthier.

You can also get a beligian waffle and sometimes they have the oliebollen stuffed with something or covered in chocolate. But to me, that's just gilding the lily. It's unnecessary. If something is fried and covered in powdered sugar, that's pretty good. (Note: If you're ever standing about to order and think the sugar will be "too much," resist the urge to say, "No sugar." You can always shake off the excess. It's part of the package and should be respected as such.)

The Netherlands has some of the best snack food that I've ever had. They love to fry stuff up. (Think snackshop or FEBO.) A few weeks ago in Berlin, I was in hog heaven with the bratworst. Oilibollen are on the same level. It's that "just the right thing at just the right time" kind of food.

However, I can't imagine what it's like to work in that kitchen for a whole shift. It's just a trailer with a couple of fryers and the ladies are bending over spearing doughnuts for hours. I image you leave after several hours thinking you'll never eat another oliebol in your life. Then the next day, you walk in and have a fresh hot one. That's what working in fast food is like.


Charles said...

Hey Andy~~

I just want to say have a great Merry Christmas!

Great Wishes and Hopes...



Eric & Tony said...

mmmmm fried bread.

Love the view out the window.

The socks look great.

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

what's with the "friend" dough?

Andy Baker said...

Thanks. My proofreader had the day off. It's fixed.