This article was originally published at Maastricht Region: to Live.
I find it interesting that so many European cultures have a special place for herring. I suspect that this has to do with how cheap and easy it has been to get for centuries. Plus it pairs well with potatoes; another classic staple. Although we aren’t as fish-centric here in Maastricht as our northern neighbors, herring still plays a role in the cuisine.
The classic herring dish in the Netherlands is Hollandse Nieuwe, a fillet of herring served raw (well, lightly brined) with raw chopped onions. Tail on, but (thankfully) headless. People traditionally eat this fish by lifting it by the tail and lowering the fish into their mouth. At first I was sure this was just a joke that Dutch folks play on their visitors, but I’ve now see enough people do it to be convinced. I suppose it make sense if you want street vendor foot that you don’t need special utensils for. On the other hand, eating and walking will often result in chopped onion bits everywhere.
The rest of the year herring is more often eaten on a bun or in a broodje. High-end restaurants even slip it in here and there to add a Dutch flair to their cuisine. And naturally it is always available in the grocery store.
Want to try a little Dutch-style herring in Maastricht? Your best bet is the Friday market on Markt square. Fresh fish from a street vendor with the full fish market atmosphere to accompany your tastebuds.