Only one of my expat friends has told me try an oliebol. Hmmm… why is that? When I first saw, I should say smelled, these pop up oliebollen stalls (think large food truck) around the Dam last year, I thought, is this like apple cider donuts? I love apple cider donuts. They smell like apple cider donuts. But, sadly, they are nothing like apple cider donuts. They are like deep fried dense rolls with warm apple filling inside and sugar on the outside.
I really wanted to like, dare I say love, oliebollen. I did. But, I don’t. While most of the “things Dutch people like” I like, and I say most, because I don’t like those little fish people swallow in one bite, I do love bitterballen, stroopwafels, poffertjes and french fries with mayo. So why can’t it be the same with oliebollen?
I walk by the same oliebollen stall a lot. It’s always busy, which is a good sign. However, something about seeing fried balls piled high for hours in the same spot makes me second guess their freshness. And there’s that thought in the back of my head, how much fat content is in that ball? Is it worth it? Cause, to me, eating a cider donut is worth it.
One cannot really tell until one tries. So I did. I read somewhere that one of the best stalls was in De Pijp near Heineken. Off I ventured to this stall intending to be there as soon as they were open for business. I was the first to arrive and asked for one fresh from the fryer. I wasn’t surprised to hear form the seller that all of those balls piled together were fresh and which one did I want?
So, instead of my usual pushy American comeback to my order request that was met with a response in the typical Dutch “not possible” category, I bit my tongue and ordered one of the warm (but not hot) balls with apple inside and sugar on the outside.
Super filling and dense with dough, it took me a while to get it down. It was OK, but nothing like an apple cider donut. To me, the smell of these Dutch treats, usually eaten on New Year’s Eve, is way better. I did bring this topic up at my most recent book club gathering and one friend suggested I try some other kinds of oliebollen. So, perhaps you should try the ones that speak to you from inside the stall waiting for you in a pile, cause they are only around for a few months.
I’m gonna stick with the delicious, mouthwatering scones from the Bakkerswinkel, open all year round.