Peer pressure & brined herring

I’ve lived in the Netherlands for well over a year and, until this past Saturday, I had successfully managed to avoid going anywhere near herring – you know: that salty brined fish the Dutch are famous for swallowing whole. A few months ago there’d been talk of me finally having to try it. It had something to do with a bet, I believe, although frankly I instantly forgot the circumstances as soon as the words were uttered (likely in self-defense), sure that the day would never truly come.

And it wouldn’t have, if Pieter and I hadn’t been out running a few errands. We were scoping out the tuna and the salmon at the fish stall when it suddenly dawned on him that what we had here was a perfect opportunity.

I begged and I pleaded! Not today, I’m not ready! I’m still so full from lunch! If you love me BUT AT ALL you won’t make me do this!
At last he conceded that a whole, plain herring was a rather big leap for a first-timer. Instead, he ordered me a broodje haring met ui. Herring on a bun with onion – raw onion, that is.

Dutch food, herring, haring

Doesn’t that just look scrumptious?

I spent the next few minutes carefully examining every last corner of that sandwich, trying to determine from which angle I should take my first bite in order to maximize the bread to herring ratio. Finally, with a sinking feeling in my heart, I went for it.

Dutch food, herring, haring

Dutch food, herring, haring

Clearly it was delicious.

Dutch food, herring, haring

In case you are wondering, I’m told those long fibres sticking out of the fish are bones. I bet you can’t wait to sink your teeth into one of these bad boys!

The verdict: much like black salty liquorice, if you happen to be Dutch you will love it love it already. I, on the other hand, will be sticking to fish snacks of the deep fried variety!

Dutch food, herring, haring

But if you’re looking to expand your palate, or if you’re simply curious, then definitely give herring a try. If nothing else, it makes for a good laugh and truly delightful breath.