If, like me, you’re from the South, you understand that “fried” is a food group. Yes, we will fry just about anything down here – pickles, oreos, twinkies, you name it. So as a connoisseur of fried foods, I’m always looking for all things fried when I’m traveling. Enter bitterballen, the little balls of fried goodness that I discovered on a boozy afternoon in Amsterdam. They come in meat and vegetarian varieties and are almost always served with the spiciest of mustards.
So why are they called “bitterballen?” Traditionally, they were served with bitters…and that brings us to the most important part – Jenever. This “Dutch national liquor” is potent and akin to moonshine. It’s served in tulip-shaped glasses that are filled to the rim, and there is a very particular way of drinking it – the Kopstoot. Bend forward, and without using your hands, take a sip. Then chase it with a beer back. Only then can you pick up the little glass and finish the Jenever. I recommend three bitterballen for every shot of Jenever. Trust me on this one…I speak from experience!