Some cities are meant for walking. Everything worth seeing should be discovered on foot, which means plenty of exercise while on holiday, and plenty of fresh air for lungs used to recycled fumes from central air conditioning. It does make sitting down for a good meal a bit of a challenge, especially in places like Tokyo where eating and walking is generally frowned upon. Not so the case with Amsterdam, where locals and tourists alike happily eat on the go. And what do they eat, you ask?
The answer presents itself almost immediately as you arrive at Amsterdam Centraal. Barely a five-minute walk from the station, you will encounter other travellers, perhaps as famished as you are after a long flight, eager for some sustenance that won’t squander precious time better spent exploring nearby De Wallen (the infamous red light district) or one of the city’s many canals.
A signboard declares that the shop is called Manneken Pis, named after the legendary Belgian infant who saved Brussels by taking a well-timed pee. (Depending on which story you hear, the target of the young boy’s tinkle was alternatively explosive charges, a fire or unlucky enemy troops!)
The name is an important clue for the shop sells the always popular Belgian fries or Vlaamse Frites. Also known as patatje (Dutch for fries), this adopted food item is quite the national obsession here in the Netherlands. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, many argue the Dutch do them better, though usually not within earshot of Belgians of a certain size…