There’s nothing better than the unusual when you travel and I couldn’t resist snapping a few unusual food related pictures while in Amsterdam. Up first? FEBO! FEBO (pronounced FAY-bo) is a chain of Dutch walk-up fast food restaurants with bright yellow banners with red and green letters. Founded in 1941 in Amsterdam, FEBO is known as an automatic format restaurant. At the counter you can purchase French fries and drinks, but for everything else you purchase directly from the automats. Make sure you have your change and Dutch dictionary handy as everything is in Dutch. The primary automat-vended items are krokets, frikandellen, hamburgers, cheese soufflés, and much more. FEBO is popular not because the food is considered great, but because they stay open later than anything else in Amsterdam. This is good news for anyone needing food late at night or to be more exact, early in the morning, as they stay open until 3 AM on weeknights and 4 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. There’s nothing worse than staying out all night and not having anywhere to go to get some food. I can definitely see FEBO filling an obvious need in Amsterdam although I must admit that I’m surprised no other companies have stepped in to fill the glaring void of late night dining. I didn’t eat here because I didn’t know what they were selling and suspected it was mostly meat and it looks like I made the right call. While in Iceland a short time later, I was talking to a Dutch man who about FEBO who said that there was one in NYC, but I can’t seem to locate it online.
What would a trip be anywhere without spotting a Subway restaurant. As I sped along the street on New Year’s Eve, I snapped this picture all the while hoping that no one would slow down and eat inside. I get that it’s fast food at a good price and that it’s relatively healthy depending on what you get, but still. Why are they absolutely everywhere?
One of the biggest attractions in Amsterdam is the Rijksmuseum. The Dutch national museum is located on the Museumplein and is dedicated to arts, craft, and history. With collections containing Rembrandt, Vermeer, and others, this museum draws great crowds daily to enter and view the masterpieces. Surprisingly enough, I spotted this hot dog cart out front. Yes, that’s the “Real American Hotdog” truck. Doesn’t fit in at all here, yet it was doing a brisk business. I guess people love American hotdogs.
When we walked past the Rijksmuseum on our way to the Van Gogh museum just a few minutes later, we passed this little guy. I started to think that maybe the Dutch equate museums with hot dogs. This hot dog sat perched on his rattan chair with a squeeze bottle of mustard in his left hand and a squeeze bottle of ketchup in his right aimed for his forehead. Wait, do hot dogs have foreheads?
What’s with all the hot dog carts in Amsterdam? I saw people dressed up eating hot dogs, adults, children, and both locals and tourists eating hot dogs. Seriously, people were lining up to get hot dogs like they were never going to get one again. Munchies perhaps? Or was it that those great American hot dogs are irresistible? Guess I’ll never know.
Amsterdam isn’t only about fast food. With over 170 different nationalities and a 45% ethnic minority, the population of Amsterdam is one of the most diverse in Europe. Over the last 50 years Amsterdam has known a new influx, this time people originating from other countries and cultures, mostly from Suriname, Turkey and Morocco. This easily translates to an abundance of ethnically diverse restaurants to choose from the next time you are in Amsterdam. More on the great food of Amsterdam to follow in future posts.
UPDATE 3/20/2012: There were automats in NYC called Horn & Hardart, but the one the Dutch man mentioned to me was a FEBO. Apparently, the man who started FEBO went to NYC and was surprised to not find one there and opened it. Curious to find out more about this story so if anyone knows, please let me know.
UPDATE 3/26/2012: Automats are such a popular topic! Someone I know who grew up in NYC, said she recalls Horn & Hardart from her childhood. She recalls going there as a child when they would visit Horn & Hardart after a show at Rockefeller Music Hall. She says she loved it and that quarters and nickels “would get you the absolute very best macaroni and cheese, my favorite, and not from the box. Just really good. No hot dogs though!” I still don’t know why an automat wouldn’t be successful today. It has all the potential for success in our fast paced lives.