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In Dam Square, in the middle of Amsterdam, a Halloween festival popped up last week. At night we can see the tip of the ferris wheel from our bedroom window, the lights peeking out above the buildings. Last Saturday night we strolled over to take a look, because it’s hard to resist shiny lights and the promise of fried treats.

It’s a small festival, but the games and rides are straight from any Nebraska or Iowa State Fair. Tweaked a little bit with Dutch words, like Spuk, and Kamelen on the Camel Race.

We wandered past the lanes of stuffed animals you can win by throwing balls or shooting water guns. We watched the people scream past on the rides, and laughed at the spooky decorations. A skeleton in a pond of red water, a witch flying around a Styrofoam tower, and a giant goblin–or was it an orc?– taking swings at passersby.

Our main goal was for the food. Fried food is one of the specialties of Dutch cuisine, and a perfect prize for a late night stroll! There was a lot to tempt us: fresh waffles drenched in chocolate and topped with strawberries, cotton candy spun before our eyes (why don’t I ever see that anymore?), and on the non-sweet side, bratwurst or Belgian fries with mayonnaise. All sounded delicious, but we went for the oliebollen, fried balls of dough, dunked in powdered sugar. They come in different varieties, with apple, banana, cream, raisins, and more.

An oliebol in the daytime.

Halloween is becoming more popular here, but you don’t see many carved pumpkins or bags of orange-and-black candy in the stores. I’m curious to see if there will be a big hoopla on the 31st. But if not, and my consolation prize is a fried ball of deliciousness and a cheesy carnival, I’ll take it.

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