Since its only competitor is an Indonesian import, rijsttafel, one can safely call herring the national food of the Netherlands. Strips of fatty matjes—which are lightly cured in salt and enzymes from their pancreases but never marinated—are sold at stands on beaches and city streets for about $1.50. Deheaded, deboned, and skinned, they are sometimes eaten in a bun with onions, but more often are simply held by the tail and lowered into a waiting mouth. These matjes are not the sandalwood-spiced herring of the north, but rather a type of herring that is fished at the mouth of the Baltic and near Scotland's Outer Hebrides in early summer, when the fish's fat content is between 15 and 22 percent. (At other times of the year, when the percentage dips into the single digits, matjes are nearly worthless.) Because the fish are flash-frozen on the boats, matjes are available year-round. Nevertheless, consumption is highest during the summer. Traditionally, the matjes season began each year with a festival called Vlaggetjesdag (Flag Day) held in late May or early June. Ships would leave Scheveningen, a harbor town in The Hague whose coat of arms features three herring, and race to be the first one back with a catch of matjes. In mid-June, even today, a ceremonial tub of the herring is delivered to the Netherlands's Queen Beatrix, signaling that the season is at its peak. By late July, it is over.