You're putting WHAT on that sandwich?

You're putting WHAT on that sandwich?

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Introducing blogger MissNeriss, an "Australian import bride" who wrote her way through the integration experience to keep sane.

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 us 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 in-laws 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?!

Would you like spit with thaT

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 spaghetti (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!

Febo.  I'm not sure if this is actually horrific or genius.  It's like a vending machine for nasty deep-fried 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.

(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 10 others ordering steaks at the same time...

Meat balls in soup.  All soup--even veggie soup [that vegetarians would (hope to) eat].  You can even buy mini meatballs called soepballetjes (soup balls) for when you make your own.  Although, 100 percent homemade soup is not very common.  Not when there is a fabulous range of pre-made soups here to choose from!

 Hagelslag.  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 liquorice flavour) and is a staple food item in every pantry.  I have colleagues who eat hagelslag on bread every day for lunch.  The health benefits?
Peanut butter flavoured animals?  Yes please!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 crisp-bread 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. 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 veggies).  My in-laws 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 our 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 caterpillars 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.
So what Dutch food quirks have you noticed?  What are things that you eat that the regular Dutchie might find horrifying?

Follow  MissNeriss (AKA Nerissa Muijs) on her blogspot at  and on Twitter at!/Miss_Neriss  


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1 Comment To This Article

  • Jeroen posted:

    on 29th April 2011, 10:06:51 - Reply

    Hi MissNeriss,

    When i read your great article, i absolutely agree, but since i'm Dutch, i have to defend some of our traditions... so here are some comments:

    - Tomato sauce on "tosti / roasted sandwich". We actually didn't invent it, it's the basis of pizza. Anything with melted cheese deserves a tomato flavor ! We just got creative with it

    - (Raw) Haring... that's not strange, we have one fish we eat raw.... The japanese have 20, add rice and call it "haute cuisine" !!! We're just not that hypocrite. Haring is yummy, but i wouldn't have it for dinner. Pickles by the way DO NOT go with haring. Onions does, of course !

    - La Place. I never understood it either. Dutch like buffets, La Place just tries to do it differently. Like the Japanese again, with their Wok Buffets. Can't say i like La Place, i'm glad it has a French name, so the Dutch are in the clear.

    - You've hit a touchy subject by dissing our meatballs in soup. We've started wars for less important reasons (and yes, we won). The balls are strictly for in the soup and have lots of bone marrow, so they really flavor the soup. Very tasty ! Goes with broth and tomato soup, not in all soups though. At least we don't have chowder, where a whole crab disappears in some thick soup.

    - Muisjes are weird, but recently i heard that "anijs" (Sweet cumin, Aniseed ) is actually good for the mother's breast milk production. I wish they had stopped the tradition at only giving the mom the "muisjes", i have no intention of producing breastmilk and can do without the funky taste.

    - Leverworst. Let's talk about "worst" (sausage) for a minute. In all cutlures it's questionable what goes into it. At least the name in Dutch doesn't hide what's in it, though you should have talked about "Kroket" and "Frikandel" as well. Once you know what's in it, you will conclude you had your last one.

    Yes, every part of the world has weird stuff they eat. I just hope that now Gordon Ramsey is travelling the world to discover these "treasures", he'll start mixing them all in one dish. Two wrongs do not make right !