Last night we went to dinner at some friends’ apartment. There were eight adults and a baby present:
- Us, two Americans most recently from Boston.
- The host couple plus their infant. They’re American but haven’t lived there in years, having been most recently in Italy before the Netherlands.
- A couple where he’s German/Canadian and she’s Canadian.
- A couple where she’s Brazilian and he’s Dutch.
All of us except for Dutch Guy have lived in the Netherlands for less than one year. Poor Dutch Guy had to listen to the rest of us mull over the idiosyncrasies of our daily lives here, mispronounce Dutch words we are learning, and put our brain trust together on where to buy certain items. With our pooled experience, I learned a handful of facts that convinced me I just need to get together with other people and ask them all my ridiculous questions more often.
We concurred that you cannot find premade pie crusts anywhere. Two of the other girls said they couldn’t find chocolate chips; I relayed that I found them only at the Leonidas chocolate shop, where they’re tasty but not cheap. They also mentioned searching for all-purpose flour, since apparently the standard flour in Dutch grocery stores is whole wheat and the consistency changes slightly when baking things. (I, being accustomed to baked goods coming out unusually, have not noticed this.)
I learned the following:
- The little tiny holiday cookies at the market are called pepernoten (pepper nuts), and they are described as “an acquired taste.”
- We are not the only ones who think the international mail can be a bit flukey.
- This Thursday is St. Martin’s Day, a holiday when children will ring our doorbell and sing songs in exchange for candy. (VERY glad we found this out before Thursday!) Although candy is involved, this holiday is unrelated to Halloween, and the children will be carrying paper lanterns, not dressed as witches and trains.
- It is appropriate to say the Dutch word alstublieft both when asking for and receiving something. It translates sometimes as “please,” and so I am always confused when someone gives me change and says “please,” and never know if I should say it too.
- The chocolate alphabet letters available everywhere are a holiday tradition; children get their initial in their stocking each year. One girl said she was concerned growing up that her dad’s letter W seemed to involve more chocolate than her E, but when she got older she read the packages and learned that the same amount of chocolate is used on each letter.
- You can buy turkeys in Germany. Now, what’s the closest route across the border?…