In Search of a Bossche Bol in Den Bosch

Heather Tucker, Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The assignment was simple. Visit the Dutch city of Den Bosch (also known as ‘s-Hertogenbosch) and eat a Bossche Bol, a local speciality. But one does not just visit a great city like Den Bosch, eat some food and leave. It is the perfect city for exploring.

The city is a fortified one and glimpses of its medieval character are easy to find. Its strategic position also made it perfect for growth and prosperity.

Visiting the VVV tourist office in Den Bosch is a really great way to start your visit. We went in looking for information on the best things to do in the city and came out with leaflets, locally produced food items and postcards. So much for travelling light!

Before heading to Den Bosch I had heard that it was possible to take a boat ride (April to October) along the canals and even go under the city. These boat rides run on the Binnen-Dieze, which is the city’s inner canal.
We headed to the ticket office straight away and managed to get a ticket for the next sailing. The trip starts out like any city boat ride but the best bit is when you start to go underground. You’ll sail through pitch black tunnels complete with bat houses at the top, under a church and even under a house where the owners have added a portion of see through glass in the floor.

Den Bosch also has an impressive Gothic cathedral known as Sint Jan, which we made a small detour to visit. The stained glass windows on a sunny day and the gargoyles outside that channel the rainwater from the roof are both not to miss.

But we were here for the Bossche Bollen and so there was no more time to waste. A Bossche Bol is a large ball of pastry, filled with whipped cream and coated in chocolate. It is a bit like an eclair but with more cream.

The history behind Bossche Bollen boils down to two bakers. The first of which was making a similar item in the 20th century. Instead of being filled with cream, however, his were filled with custard. In 1920 (as the story goes) a baker from The Hague started up shop in the same street as the first baker and invented a variation on the custard filled dessert. He filled his with whipped cream and covered them in chocolate. Is that the origins of the original Bossche Bol? His heirs, no doubt, think so!

You can find these tricky to eat treats all around the city. In fact you could even eat one in the tourist office. But we went for a small cafe on one of the side streets. Everyone around us was enjoying the same thing and as soon as we bit into ours it was easy to understand why.
Delicious!