Delft is an adorable canal city in The Netherlands. After our successful trip to the Kinderdijk windmills, we were ready for a new Dutch adventure. The ultimate culture trip - trying out possibly disgusting traditional food! We were inspired by Hamish and Andy's Euro Gap Year adventures, and we were out to have our own Gilbert Gap Year shenanigans.
We headed to the city of Delft as family and friends. We were delayed on our walk into town as a large boat was passing through the canal. It was so amazing to watch the whole section of the road lift up to allow for the passage of the boat!
First up we headed for the centre of town. Delft is the manufacturing base for the beautiful and rather pricey Dutch hand-painted blue and white pottery. I spent a few nervous minutes admiring the pottery while also trying to make sure that none of my kids accidentally bumped anything in those squashy little shops.
Delft also has an enormous selection of fabulous Dutch cheeses. Before we hit the scarier elements of the Dutch cuisine, we tried some food that we knew we would love - cheese! Oh wow, the cheese shop in the centre square had every version of Dutch cheese that you can imagine, and best of all, we got to try out all the samples! Talk about a giddy iconic overload, there were giant cloggs, serving girls in braids with those funny pointy hats, and cheese, cheese, cheese!!! It was fantastic!
My kids had a ball pretending to milk a cow and climbing all over the giant clog. We ate cheese samples and ice-cream and admired the town square. Both the Nieuwe Kerk and the City Town Hall are beautiful landmark buildings in the centre of town.
Very happy with our cheese tasting experience, we decided to move onto bigger fish....literally. The Dutch eat RAW HERRING. And if that doesn't seem disgusting enough, they cover it with raw onion! Eeeewwwwww!!! They also have a fried version called kibbeling that is delicious, we had already gobbled up plenty of that in past days, and so we were game to try a Gilbert Gap Year dare.
Would we eat Raw Herring?
Well, we were game enough to take off around the world on an unknown global adventure. We'd already left conventional life to hike Austrian mountains, pretend to be the Von Trapps in Salzburg, proudly walked around town in Lederhosen, and swam naked in German lakes (not me, haha, that was Ross and the kids). We had gotten lost, broken down, faced language barriers, and managed to not kill each other on all those long drives.
So would we eat disgusting raw herring smothered in raw onion?
We wanted to acquire a table all to ourselves so that we could film this momentous occasion. After all, it may never be repeated! We gathered around one of the standing tables available. Our table had one random Dutch guy eating on it and I was hoping that he would move himself to a less crowded table option, but nope, he didn't seem even slightly inclined to move. In fact, he appeared rather interested and amused at what was going on. He watched intently, smiled, made comments in Dutch, and then availed himself of all the leftover raw herring once we were done! Hahahaha!!
Our rule was that to complete this particular Gilbert Gap Year challenge, we each had to eat, chew and swallow. No licking or trying a little bit and spitting it out! The whole bite or it didn't count.
The final verdict....it was disgusting!
I wasn't surprised. Why on earth the Dutch think this is even close to appetizing is a mystery to me. I suppose they might think the same thing about Vegemite, but seriously...raw onion fish, gross!! That guy on our table must have guessed that we wouldn't eat it all and so he was happy to find a free meal! Lol
After we had gagged and laughed and finally recovered, we continued wandering around town to happily discover the coolest flea market lining the canals. There were all sorts of treasures to find, weird and wonderful, old and quirky. I found myself some vintage tins that I loved, and the kids enjoyed looking at everything and nagging us for more ice-cream. I offered to buy them some more delicious onion herrings but they declined.
Will I ever eat Dutch herring again? I certainly hope not. But I'm very glad that we were brave enough to try something new and to get into the spirit of our adventurous new life.