13 April, 2011

You’re putting WHAT on that sandwich?!

To say that Maarten and I have different food influences would be something of an understatement.  Well, actually he’s quite indifferent to food and I can’t stop thinking about it (as is evidenced in my dress size).  But we have some ideas as to what we should do when preparing and eating foods that are total polar opposites.  Things that are perfectly normal to ourselves, are sometimes repulsive to the other.

I read a fabulous blog every day called Mamamia and today there was a post all about food quirks.  This made me think about the cultural food quirks that I’ve noticed about living here.  Quirks that if you ask the average Dutch person they will tell you it is perfectly normal and that my idea of normal is bizarre.  I watched an entire thread yesterday in a fabulous online ladies group discussing this very idea.  Some of these very accomplished women have given up preparing particular foods that they love because for their Dutch inlaws as they are too scared to try something different to what they would normally eat.  I’m not too sure how it would go down at home if I decided I wouldn’t eat boerenkool or andijve because who mixes lettuce with mashed potato?!

Some of the funny little differences I’ve noticed are:

Putting tomato sauce on the top of a toasted sandwich.  This my friends, is a crime against toasted sandwiches.  Tomato sauce does not belong anywhere near a toasted sandwich.  Toasties are for fillings like cheese, ham, tomato, chicken, onion, tinned spagetti (this may be an Australian food quirk though), but never tomato sauce.

Pre-packaged baking mixes.  Really?  It doesn’t take that much longer to bake a cake from scratch.  I don’t get why it is so difficult to find quality baking ingredients, but fifteen different varieties of home-made-brownie-just-add-water packages.  The level of surprise people have when I mention that something is huisgemaakt never ceases to amaze me.  It’s like I’ve just turned water into wine..!

Would you like spit with tha
Febo.  I’m not sure if this is actually horrific or genius.  It’s like a vending machine for nasty deepfried food.  I’ve never actually eaten anything out of the Febo boxes, mostly because I’ve heard stories of people paying to lick an item only to put it back for someone else to enjoy later...  I have been known to take friends to a Febo just for a photo op.  I’m clearly not the only one who thinks it’s odd...

Haring (pickled herring).  Nothing more to add here.  Gross.

Paling (smoked eel).  See above.

French fries with mayonnaise.  If you ask any Dutch person, they will tell you that it is absolutely mandatory to have mayonnaise with fries.  It’s to the point where wherever you order french fries you will either:  be asked if you want mayo, or just get it automatically.  What?  you want tomato sauce?!  You can’t have tomato sauce on fries!

La Place.  For the uninitiated, La Place is a tray restaurant.  You know, where you grab a tray at the start and choose what you want then pay for it.  However, the Dutch quirk is that you can also order a steak or pizza, but it’s made to order and you must stand around and wait for it.  Loads of fun when it’s right on dinner time and there are ten others ordering steaks at the same time...

Meat balls in soup.  All soup.  Even vegie soup.  That vegetarians would eat.  You can even buy mini meatballs called soepballetjes (soup balls) for when you make your own.  Although, 100% home made soup is not very common.  Not when there is a fabulous range of pre-made soups here to choose from!

Hageslag.  To you and me, this is a variation on hundreds and thousands.  Or sprinkles.  You know, the brightly coloured balls you would have as fairy bread at kids birthday parties.  Except here it is in all different flavours (even licorice flavour) and is a staple food item in every pantry.  I have colleagues who eat hageslag on bread every day for lunch.  The health benefits?  About the same as in fairy bread.
Congratulations, it's a Girl!  

Speaking of coloured sprinkles, Beschuit met muisjes is another quirky food.  As far as The Rules go, when a child is born, the new parent must supply all visitors (and colleagues) with beschuit met muisjes.  The beschuit is a dry round crispbread and the muisjes are pink or blue balls (depending on whether you have a boy or girl).  The muisjes taste like aniseed and the beschuit is dry and guaranteed to crumble all down your shirt, closely followed by all the muisjes for the energetic new parent to clean up once you leave.

I almost forgot one!  Leverworst (liverwurst).  Belongs with the haring and paling.  Yuck.

Now I’ll put the shoe on the other foot for a moment and talk about foods I eat (and the way I eat them) can be seen as slightly odd (or gag inducing) for Maarten and other Dutchies...

Roast pumpkin.  Actually pumpkin in any form other than pumpkin soup.  It’s a vegetable that my mum would prepare every day (meat, potatoes, pumpkin and vegies).  My inlaws ate roast pumpkin for the very first time when I cooked it.  My mum’s special pumpkin cake recipe is a huge hit with the entire Dutch family.  Although, they may just be saying that to be polite.  Actually, as pretending to like something when you don’t is completely foreign to Dutch people, they must genuinely like the cake!  Yay for me!

Vegemite.  OK.  I’m copping out a bit here.  The entire world outside Australia thinks vegemite is disgusting.  Back when I was tour guiding, we always had vegemite in out food packages that almost nobody ever ate.  I don’t know why they didn’t supply nutella instead.  When I was a kid I wasn’t so keen, so used to mix it with honey on my sandwiches (food quirk perhaps?), but now I love it.  Not as much as I like Promite however.  Which leads me to...

Promite.  Similar in principle to vegemite, although this one is so hard core that not even all Australians like it.  The flavour is very strong.  Kind of like the child of vegemite and marmite on steroids.  I think it’s great on toast and as a toasted sandwich together with cheese.  Maarten won’t let me kiss him if I’ve been eating Promite.  Safe to say it’s something that he finds disgusting...?

Dipping food items other than biscuits (or plain flavoured crisps) into the dip.  This one might just be a Maarten and Nerissa thing, but I can’t be sure.  I almost made Maarten puke when I dipped my chorizo into the dip once.  I was told I have to stop, or he would puke.  He even gets upset if I dip flavoured crisps.

There are all sorts of native Australian foods that the majority of the Australian population finds a bit disgusting, let alone the rest of the world.  Witchetty Grubs for one.  Fat white catterpillars that live in the ground that can be eaten raw or cooked.  Smells like fried eggs and tastes like peanut butter.  Apparently.  You won’t get me near the little suckers.

Peanut butter flavoured animals?  Yes please!

So what Dutch food quirks have you noticed?  What are things that you eat that the regular Dutchie might find horrifying?


Anonymous said...

Fantastic post I was nodding my head continuously at all of those things, Here's a few more:
You mentioned muisjes, but what about the gestampt muisjes (literally mashed mice) these are the muisjes you mentioned but they are all squashed into a powder

Filet Americain - goes with leverworst uurrggh

Frikandel - Nice sometimes but you wouldn't want to know what is in it!!

You have to love the Dutch

Unknown said...

Funny!! Most of the stuff you find strange, I still find totally strange and crazy 8 years after moving here! Paling and herring - yes, totally gross! :D
Chocolate on bread? What?! And a meatball on a bun as a sandwich? A round thing in a sandwich? What?! :D

Valentijn said...

My fiance thinks peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a disgusting idea ... I don't think he's even tried one! I might be able to break him in gently using ginger jelly.

Gina said...

My man excels in gross sandwiches... Peanut butter, egg, cucumber, Gebakken Uitjes (deep fried onions), chili sauce and pickles. He is a master of food combos with would make the average person quiver! I think it's his Indonesian roots!

Louise said...

Well, my Mum thinks that my Dad(who is half Dutch) has the most disgusting food tastes.
He loves sauerkraut. He has been known to put fish with banana, honey and turnip casarole anyone? Yuck!

Unknown said...

@Windmill Tales, I'd forgotten about filet Americain! Actually, after much convincing I tried that stuff, and love it! But my own food quirk is that it can only be on warm pistolets and with butter and pepper. It can not be on a normal sandwich. And it can only be at weekends.

@Aledys Ver - a meatball on a sandwich! Yes! What is that?! And it must have satay sauce!

@Valentijn my dad also likes peanut butter and jelly (although we call it jam) I like peanut butter and honey on toast...

@Gina, you always said you like your men to be a bit vies..! hahaha

@Louise, sauerkraut is a-mazing! Mixed with mashed potatoes, bacon pieces, gravy and rookworst (smoked sausage) it is the ultimate winter food! I'll pass on the fish and banana though thanks :P

ML Awanohara said...

Recently, on The Displaced Nation, we were discussing how Kraft has ripped off the Marmite ad campaign in Britain to promote Miracle Whip (an ersatz mayonnaise). Honestly, as an American who lived in England but didn't acquire the taste for Marmite, I didn't know which was more disgusting: bland fake mayonnaise or yeast sludge. And now I find out that Aussies have Promite: i.e., it could have been worse!

Still, I'd be interested in hearing your answer to the question: does absence (and perhaps all the exposure to weird Dutch concoctions) make your heart grow fonder of iconic Australian foods?

Anonymous said...


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czanandrie said...
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SometimesKaren said...

Oh what?! Tomato sauce on TOP of a toasted sanga? That's wrong.

I knew a Dutchman once and he'd eat his sweet biscuits wrapped in a slice of bread. He said it was common to do so when he was a kid and sweet bikkies weren't readily available. Not so weird though, kinda thrifty :)

Unknown said...

@ML it's interesting that you ask if if absence makes the heart grow fonder; indeed it does! I miss Arnott's biscuits (which you can get in America now!), espcecially Tim Tams and Pizza Shapes. I can get both of those here in Holland, at a price. I also really miss tinned Heinz spagetti. I know that's not typically Australian, but it's a staple food I grew up with and very difficult to find here.

But in all honesty, I yearn for Asian food more than anything. Here it's all influenced by Indonesia, but not necessarily in an authentic way. I would kill for a good laksa or a proper Indian. Babi Pangang is the Dutch version of Generic Chinese Takeaway, and it just doesn't cut it for me.

@SometimesKaren Sweet biscuits wrapped in bread? That is very bizarre - I have to ask the relos if that is something that is normal...

Maarten said...

It's fun to see how, 1,5 years after writing the post, you've completely come around in regards to Pre-packaged baking mixes!

Anonymous said...

I am Dutch and vegetarian. Vegetarians in the Netherlands are just like vegetarians in other countries: They don't eat meat. Some "groentesoep" may contain meatballs, but that doesn't mean it is veggie soup.

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