Two fishermen on a boat in an Amsterdam canal looking up

A Frisian Eel Fisherman in Amsterdam

On a cold day in January 2020 I was invited to come along on a boat ride with Bas Oosterbaan and his fellow skipper Gerben Brouwer. Despite the dreary weather we had a great time. Thanks guys!

“Eeeelll, freshly smoked eeeeelll!” Once again these words echo along the Amsterdam canals. Half a century after the city’s last “parlevinker” — a boat-based traveling salesman — disappeared, Bas Oosterbaan is reviving the practice. A real “parlevinker” combines two Dutch specialties: trading spirit and water.

A bell, his voice and loud music (well-known old Amsterdam singalongs, nicely adapted to each neighbor­hood) get people’s attention. Almost everyone on the street looks up when Bas sails past, but only real Amsterdammers buy his eels. Smoked eel (cleaned, salted, dried, cooked and smoked while rigorously controlling the temperature) is a typical Dutch delicacy.

Bas Oosterbaan’s website:

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