27 August 2013

6 Typical Dutch Things We've Adopted

There are some habits or actions that we do automatically, but they're really a feature of the culture in which we were raised. For instance, as an American, loading up on dry groceries and shelf-stable items at a Costco or Sam's Club doesn't make me blink, and I know plenty of people that also stock up after a Costco run. But to someone from another continent, coming home with the 64 roll party pack of toilet paper and an 8 pound box of Cheerios doesn't make sense - because why on earth would you need a pack of toilet paper the size of a garden shed and enough Cheerios to feed a horse for a week all at the same time? And where the heck would you store all of it?

That being said, there are several "typical Dutch" habits that we've adopted in the last year that might turn heads back in the States - especially the instances involving a bike. We've taken these on, and we're not turning back, especially when it involves food.

1. Riding a bicycle in the rain while holding an umbrella. This is with or without the child on the back. It sounds seemingly simple, but balancing a bike well enough to get on it one-handed (especially with the extra weight of Little Man) is not something that comes naturally to me. But forcing yourself to do it is a lot better than making your arrival looking like a drowned rat.

2. Riding a bicycle with one (or more) 24-count crate(s) of beer. This is also done with or without the child on the back. I'd like to point out that a fresh crate is pretty heavy, but when you don't have a car it sure beats walking with it. There's an absolutely hilarious Amstel commercial showing a man acting out this normal action - but I think it's mostly funny to us because this would look like utter madness in the States.


3. Airing the pillows and the comforter out the window. This may be done other places, but I can promise that I never saw it in the States. I like it - it freshens things up without taking the time to wash and hang-dry - though I recommend checking the outside of the window for spiderwebs before sticking your stuff out the window, otherwise you may be in for a nasty surprise...

4. Owning a fryer. This may seem counter intuitive because the Netherlands is pretty consistently listed as one of the healthiest countries in the world, but the Dutch love their frites (French fries). Any time we've bought frozen snack foods (fries, chicken nuggets, cheese puffs) they've come with directions for frying, and I can testify from experience that cooking in the pan and oven just doesn't work.

5. Cafe culture. Okay, so this is more broadly a European thing - but what's not to like about eating and drinking outside? There are so many cafes in any city centre that you really should take advantage. Some places in the States have outdoor seating, but there's something special about sitting in city centre and watching the people go by or sitting along a canal watching the boats with a good cappuccino.

6. Hagelslag (sprinkles) for breakfast (or lunch). This is one of the reasons I Heart Holland - it's completely acceptable to give your child candy on toast for breakfast or lunch. Whether you prefer typical ice cream-related sprinkles, flavored sprinkles, or chocolate shavings, there's something for your taste and it makes a delicious and fun breakfast treat. And really, it's no worse for you than most sugar-laden American processed cereals.

What types of habits have you "adopted" from your new home (whether in a foreign country or even a different region of your home country)?

2 comments:

  1. Yay to the coffee scence, we also have that here in Croatia - and cheap.
    But bleeerrgh, yuck to rinding bikes. I will leave that up to you and yours.

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  2. The coffee is so much better here than most places in the States. I didn't use to drink much coffee but that's changed.
    And the biking for us is good, and we have far fewer hills than you do in Croatia - that makes it a LOT easier.

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