Dutch cuisine is characterized by its somewhat limited diversity; however, it varies greatly from region to region. The southern regions of the Netherlands for example share dishes with Flanders and vice versa. Dutch food is traditionally characterized by the high consumption of vegetables when compared to the consumption of meat. Dairy products are also eaten to great extent, Dutch cheeses are world renowned with famous cheeses such as Gouda, Edam and Leiden. Dutch pastry is extremely rich and is eaten in great quantities. When it comes to alcoholic beverages wine has long been absent in Dutch cuisine (but this is changing during the last decades); traditionally there are many brands of beer and strong alcoholic spirits such as jenever and brandewijn. The Dutch have all sorts of pastry and cookies (the word cookie is in fact derived from Dutch), many of them filled with marzipan, almond and chocolate. A truly huge amount of different pies and cakes can be found, most notably in the southern provinces, especially the so called Limburgish vlaai.
Coffee and Tea – The Dutch drink coffee and tea throughout the day, often served with a single biscuit. Dutch thrift led to the famous standard rule of only one cookie with each cup of coffee. It has been suggested that the reasons for this can be found in the commercial mentality and Protestant upbringing of North Holland. The traditionally Catholic south does not share this tradition (in Limburg a Vlaai, cut in eight pieces, is traditionally served when visitors are expected). A popular Dutch story (never confirmed) says that in the late 1940s the wife of the then Prime minister, Willem Drees, served coffee and one biscuit to a visiting American diplomat, who then became convinced that the money from the Marshall Plan was being well-spent.