15 Things I never did until I lived in The Netherlands

1. Called people a whore (to their face). Ja hoor!” “Nee hoor!” “Momentje hoor!” 3 months in, it still makes me chuckle every time.

2. Arrived at a party at 2pm and left at 6pm. It’s not strange at all to set a time when everyone has to leave your birthday party. (Could it have something to do with the fact that it’s the birthday boy or girl’s job to buy all of the food & drinks for the occasion?) Work in an office? You’ll also need to buy cake for the whole workforce.

3. Electrical work. Most rented Dutch houses/apartments come without light fittings… so you call an electrician, right? Wrong. You save money and risk your life by doing it yourself… no biggie ;-)

4. Looked into other people’s houses… curtains are a rarity here, let alone net curtains! Nose away!

5. Cycled, everywhere! Just do it.


6. Accepted ice cream topping as a breakfast food. Hagelslag (chocolate or sugar sprinkles) on bread (normally with lashings of butter.) I still don’t do that shit… I’ll stick to my marmite, thanks!

7. Ate FrikandelNever again.

8. Ate hot food from a vending machine. The Dutch love all things deep-fried and hate queuing. A chain of fast food restaurants called FEBO solves these two problems in one, with their vending machine walls!

Febo, Utrecht

Febo, Utrecht

9. Understood the difference between Holland and The Netherlands (but still say Holland). Hup Holland Hup. Case closed.

10. Called Boxing day “second Christmas Day” and Easter Monday “second Easter Day”. (Tweede Kerstdag and Tweede Paasdag.) Hell, why make up words when you can be super efficient and just add a 2 on the end? Similarly, the word for animals = dieren. Pet = huisdieren (house animals). Is it actually super efficient though, or could someone not be bothered to come up with more words?

11. The lekker hand sign. Eaten something delicious? Do this.

12. Owned orange clothing. King’s Day, football matches, other sporting events… it’s a must. Dress head-to-toe in orange. The sillier the better.

Our King's Day accessories box.

Our King’s Day accessories box. Every proud Dutchie has their own orange collection.

13. Said kunt without getting a bar of soap down my throat. (This actually happened, circa 1992. Bite marks in the soap after I used my “new-swear-word-of-choice” very loudly at my annoying younger brother. Of course, my Mum was standing behind me. Fail.) Anyway, here you can say… Je kunt (You can) Kunt u? (Can you? formal) and my personal favourite Kies mijn kant (Choose my side) without so much as a bat of the eyelid.

14. Heard “fuck” on the radio at 9am. Swearing just doesn’t have the same power here. Motherfucker, Fuck You, Fuck Off: unlikely to cause any offence. Similarly, songs with swearing aren’t “bleeped” out like in the UK… There’s no Cee Lo Green – Forget You, it’s Fuck You. Same goes for Lily Allen. Really want to insult a Dutch person? Tell them they have cancer… horrible… but that’s Dutch profanity for you.

15. Had a calendar in my BATHROOM. Weird, freaky or just super-sensible? Where else in the house do you have time to sit and “do nothing”? Read more about Bathroom Calendars.

What have I missed? Anything else you’ve noticed about the freaky deaky Dutchies you’d like to add to this list?

Hayley x

A Day of Mourning

Today’s post will be short one, because at 16.00 local time (it’s currently 15.15), there will be a minute’s silence for MH17. The first plane bringing home the Malaysian Airlines victims is expected to arrive in the Netherlands today at that time (at an airbase in Eindhoven), and it is officially a national day of mourning. In addition to the one minute of silence, flags are flying at half mast and a “Silent March” is taking place in Amsterdam at 20.00, departing from Dam Square.

Flags at half mast

Flags at half mast

I would also like to share another link with you: a powerful and eloquent speech by Frans Timmermans (Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs) to the UN Security Council.

Hayley x

MH17 – “Everyone knows someone, or someone who knew someone.”

On Friday morning I turned on my laptop to write a light-hearted post about my weekend trip to Utrecht. Instead I spent hours reading articles and blog posts about MH17 and listening to the radio for updates.

I won’t pretend to know too much about this tragedy. I only know what I’ve read. I didn’t know anyone on board. But the Netherlands is a small country, “193 people is a lot for us.”

“Everyone knows someone, or someone who knew someone.” (anastasiahacopian.com)

Such true words. At the gym, a woman broke down in the changing rooms. My instructor was also mourning her friend who had been on board.

It’s so incredibly sad. I’ve cried several times since Friday, reading about these people I don’t even know, but somehow I feel a connection. The Netherlands is my home now. Dutch people are MY people.

Therefore I couldn’t let this tragedy pass unmentioned. My blog posts can wait. In the meantime I just wanted to share a few links with you, in addition to the tear-jerking post from Anastasia above.

BBC: What we know

Amanda van Mulligen, MH17: A plane has crashed

Colleen Geske (Stuff Dutch People Like) A tribute to Antoine van Veldhuizen, a Dutch friend lost on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Personal message from the Expatica Team

My sincere condolences to the crew, passengers, families and friends of those on board flight MH17.

Hayley x

“I love you to bits” – What it really means!

The phrase “I love you to bits” is highly meaningful. More than you might think.  Many people think it means: “I love you a lot”, “I love you so much” or “I really really love you”… but if someone says they love you to bits (or other variations, such as “pieces”) then what it actually means is that there’s a but.

Next time you hear it, listen out.

“I love him to bits but I’m not sure if I’m ready to get married.”

“I love my sister to bits but at the moment she’s being a complete nightmare!”

“I loved her to bits… but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Love to bits

If you love someone – no questions, no buts – you say “I love you”, “I love him”, “I love her”… you get the picture.

Adding “to bits” means you can’t just say you love them and stop there. There’s a but.

It’s ok. Don’t panic. I’m not saying if someone says they love you to bits you should run for the hills. But… you should address the “but”.

What do you think? Do you agree?

Hayley x

Eating & Drinking our way around the World (Cup) – Part 6

We lost. (On penalties.) It was a sad day for Holland, but I can’t leave my series unfinished, so a quick round-up on the Argentinian food we ate prior to the wedstrijd (match) on Wed 9th July.

When googling “traditional Argentinian food” there’s one thing you cannot get away from… Chimichurri. It’s a tangy sauce/salsa normally served with steak. The recipe variations are endless but the key ingredients consist of freshly chopped parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar. In addition to this we added paprika, lemon juice, coriander, chilli flakes and finely chopped onion. Seriously good sauce!! You can also add cumin, thyme, basil, bay leaf… or in its red version, tomato and red pepper but we wanted a more traditional take on it.

Mmmm, just writing this is making me hungry!

To go with this famous Chimichurri sauce it would have been easy to grab a couple of steaks and be done with it… but oh no… too easy!! So instead we picked Choripán – an easy decision after reading the following quote from BBC Good Food: “A pre-requisite before any football match, a go-to amongst taxi drivers, and a mainstay at markets and from street vendors, choripán is the ultimate Argentinean street food.” Done.

Choripan with all the trimmings

Choripan with all the trimmings

It’s essentially a sandwich: white bun or baguette, barbecued or chargrilled chorizo (we barbecued ours), caramelized onions and Chimichurri sauce. But a deliciously different sandwich! We’ll definitely be making Choripán again!

On the side, was an Argentinian Potato Salad and Ensalada de zanahoria y huevo (Grated carrot and chopped hardboiled egg with salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil.) Both very yummy and the olives and dill in the potato salad gave it a real kick!

Argentinian side dishes

Argentinian side dishes

To wash it down we made a very refreshing Clerico – a white summer Sangria! Again, there are countless variations of this recipe, but we used ones from Chow and Food Network.

Clerico, complete with Dutch flags ;-)

Clerico, complete with Dutch flags!

All in all, a delicious Argentinian meal… shame about the accompanying match :(

Argentinian inspired meal

Argentinian inspired meal

On Saturday (12th July) the Netherlands played Brazil for 3rd place (and won)… but we didn’t make Brazilian food. It was too depressing. So instead we went to Utrecht and ate sashimi!

A semi-happy end to the World Cup story…

Hayley x

Eating & Drinking our way around the World (Cup) – Part 5

As promised… a guest post by the Dutchie. :) Bitterballen Bruid was drinking cocktails in England this weekend (on her hen do) so I had the weight of a nation on my shoulders creating a Costa Rican meal for the match. And making sure we progress in the World Cup…

Not easy.

The first thing I saw when looking at traditional Costa Rican food is that almost every dish is rice and beans. Apparently there’s a bit of variation between the recipes but it’s all rice and beans… and I’m not a big fan of the combination. Luckily, there was one other thing I found which caught my eye: Olla di Carne, a beef soup/stew with a lot of vegetables, some I’ve never heard of, so that’s always nice to try some new ingredients.

Olla de Carne in the making...

Olla de Carne in the making…

Unluckily for me, I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t heard of taro root. The local Greengrocer and two supermarkets (of which one has won a prize for their fruit and veg) had no idea what I was talking about. So not only could I not get them, neither could anyone tell me an alternative.

Once I got home, I found out that the things I did buy – parsnip & sweet potato – are good alternatives. (BBruid: score!!) So no real problem, I just didn’t get the joy of some new ingredients. I had less success on the plantains though, no one had any. :(

The base of the stew is beef stock so I bought some bone marrow and other stuff to make my own stock. I only made it on the day itself so it did have some taste in it, but wasn’t very strong. So, when I put the beef in, I decided to leave the fat on to give some extra oomph… and was planning on removing it when I served it. (BBruid: what a dingbat! ;-))

But I didn’t remove the fat afterwards as there wasn’t any left to remove… My first spoon tasted like taking a sip from a deep-fryer. So apparently all the fat had dissolved and made my soup inedible.

Yuk!! Guess I'll have a beer then...

Yuk!! Guess I’ll have a beer then…

Enough about food. They have some nice drinks there. Not wine though. Quoting a website about Costa Rica: “there is one farmer in Costa Rica who makes wine, but that’s more physics than actually being a farmer” :)

They do make a type of rum and I found some beer brands… but of course, I couldn’t buy either in Holland. (Well, the 3 places I tried anyway.) Luckily I saw they just like beer in general, so I joined in with that tradition!

Fail is a strong word (BBruid: I’d say that was exactly the right word ;-)) but I can’t say I managed to cook a decent Costa Rican meal. Not a good omen for the match… And Holland struggled. Only in the penalties after extra time came the difference and Holland only just won. So on Wednesday I get the chance to redeem myself with some nice Argentinian food and wine… Luckily I will have Bitterballen Bruid with me, so it should go a lot smoother!

The Dutchie

Eating & Drinking our way around the World (Cup) – Part 4

The Netherlands vs Mexico (2-1)

Damn, that was a close match!! We had 5 screaming Dutchies in the house plus me and my sister, who came over from England last week. (On Friday we went to Hilversum Alive which was awesome! Way too much fun actually – because we got home at 4am and were hungover all day Saturday!!  Not great timing considering it was the Dutchie’s Birthday BBQ – so we had about 30 people over… But well, the best nights are the last-minute, spontaneous ones, right?!)

On Sunday (29th June), the football was on at 6pm, and shamefully, we didn’t cook Mexican ourselves because we had a crazy busy weekend! (And A LOT of cleaning up after the party/BBQ!)  Instead we ordered takeout from The Taco Company in Hilversum and washed it down with lashings of Desperados!

Mexican takeaway… close enough… right?


Unfortunately not. The food was so boring compared to the Mexican we normally cook ourselves, but luckily we had reinforcements in the form of The Dutchie’s Special Sambal… and some knoflook (garlic) sauce… so we just drowned everything in that!!

Sad-looking leftover tacos...

Sad-looking leftover tacos…

Disappointing, but it serves us right for not cooking ourselves… Lesson learnt!!

This Saturday (5th July) is Holland vs Costa Rica. I’ll be in England on my hen do (woop woop!!) so you’ll be treated to a guest post from none other than The Dutchie!! :D

Hayley x

Eating & Drinking our way around the World (Cup) – Part 3

The Netherlands vs Chile (2-0)

Yesterday, Holland played Chile… and instead of doing what a lot of people did (judging by Facebook posts) we didn’t cook a Chilli Con Carne (which is Mexican, anyway!!)

Instead we went for a spicy Pebre Sauce with bread whilst watching the match:

Pembre Sauce and Jote (red wine with coke)

Pebre Sauce, bread and Jote (red wine with coke)

This was accompanied by Jote (red wine and coke – sounds disgusting, tastes surprisingly good.) With Chilean wine… of course!!

For our main we dined on Plateada – a Chilean Pot Roast with spicy mash. According to the recipe I found, Plateada is among the 10 most popular home cooked dishes in Chile. It involves taking the rib cap of a piece of beef and slow cooking it in a marinade of red wine vinegar, garlic and seasoning… and NOT adding any water! Otherwise you get the appearance, consistency and flavour of boiled meat!

Into the mash we added butter, milk, seasoning, low-fat crème fraîche, 3 green chillies, a pot of smeerkaas sambal (spread cheese with sambal, available from Dutch supermarkets) plus the green part of some spring onions. (John and Greg from Masterchef UK would kill me – they hate spring onions in mash – but we enjoyed it anyway!!)

On the side was an Ensalada Chilena – an Onion & Tomato Chilean salad made with coriander, lime juice, olive oil and plenty of seasoning!

We also drank Fanschop which is a glass filled with half beer and half Fanta! Again… not as gross as you might expect…

Are you ready for your close-up?

Are you ready for your close-up?

And how did it taste?? Bloody awesome. The meat was soooo tender (after being cooked for 3+ hours) and the salad was really tangy and fresh. We’ll definitely be making these dishes again!!

Next on the cards is Holland vs Mexico on Sunday 29th June ! Bit of a shame because we’re big Mexican food fans already and eat it regularly, so we were actually hoping for Brazil… but it’s a good excuse to make a Mexican dish we haven’t tried before. (If we can find one that is!!)


Hayley x

Eating & Drinking our way around the World (Cup) – Part 2

Last night was Holland vs Australia… and everyone knows the score, right? The Netherlands won 3-2… but enough about football ;-) This is about the food and drink which accompanied the match!

Beer Can Chicken and Shrimp (Prawns)

Beer Can Chicken and Shrimp (Prawns)

Beer Can Chicken – We’d never cooked this before so we used a combination of two recipes (from Taste.com.au and the Food Network). The basis was to use a rub on the chicken skin (I also put some underneath the skin) put garlic and lemon slices inside the beer can (once you’d drunk about a 1/3 of it) and then baste the chicken as it cooked. We used a combination of honey, garlic and paprika!! Yum!

Beer Can Chicken and Australian Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie

Beer Can Chicken and Australian Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie

Australian Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie – I found this recipe on About.com and it seemed a good match for us as we’re both garlic fiends! I skipped the butter and the olive oil though (we have wedding outfits to think of!!) and the shallots because we didn’t have any. It didn’t matter, the result was delicious and so simple!

Holland vs Australia

Holland vs Australia

The prawns (as we say in England) were a welcome “starter” and went perfectly with the Australian Chardonnay (Camden Park.) We picked up this bottle on special offer at our local AH, funnily enough they had a whole end display of wine from Brazil, Spain, Australia and Chile (Brazil is where it’s being held of course, plus the 3 opponents of the Netherlands in Group B) … although no signage or anything to explain how clever they’d been. Missed a trick there I reckon!

And the end result… with some “vegetable kebabs” to accompany it. Lekkerrrrrrrrrrrrrr! 

I like big butts and I cannot lie...

I like big butts and I cannot lie…

Next: Holland vs Chile on Monday 23rd June @ 6pm… we have a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc already in the wine rack… now for the grub!  Thinking caps on…

Hayley x