I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas

Not Quite Right
Yesterday morning — despite our no-ads sticker on the mail slot — we got this flyer delivered. I can’t help but love it. It’s such a beautiful mash-up of America, Dutch-style.

The front is almost over-the-top American with the big flag and the sexy girl dressed up in Daisy Duke shorts, midriff-baring western shirt, and cowboy hat and boots. Yet, there’s just something about the girl that doesn’t look American. I keep thinking she looks a bit more Eastern European. It’s a subtle distinction. And of course, on top of all this American symbolism, there’s the almost jarring (from a US-perspective) inclusion of the Dutch text, which in this case says: De lekkerste van Nederland! (That would essentially translate to “the best tasting in the Netherlands”.)

Then you flip the flyer over and things get even funnier!
American Spareribs.NL
Things start off well enough with the spareribs, although some of the sauce options may be a bit different from what you’d get in the US. At least one of them is probably more of an Asian flavor with the sweet chili sauce (I’m not sure if that’s the Sweet or the Chilli. Chilli con carne tastes different here, too) Then you get to the cowlsalade. I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be cole slaw. The cole slaw we’ve had at the Broadway steakhouse on the Oudegracht was quite good, but you never know. The only recipe I could find for cowlsalade didn’t actually have any mayonnaise (or any other sauce) in it at all.

But then you get to the funny part. The next item on this American-themed menu? Kipsaté. (Chicken satay) To be honest, I think you would be hard-pressed to find any restaurant in the Netherlands that doesn’t have saté on the menu, be it high end or snack bar; it’s everywhere. It’s not that it’s unknown in the US, but it’s just not something that you see all the time. When you get just a further bit down on the menu to the American Combi Grill option, it’s kind of funny to see ribs, chicken drumsticks, and good ol’ saté make up the American combination platter. Today is the Fourth of July — Independence Day — in the US, and it’s a tradition that lots of people will be grilling today to celebrate. Ribs and chicken (and burgers, hot dogs, steaks and even veggie burgers) will be sizzling on the grills today, but I’m pretty sure your average American won’t be grilling up some chicken saté. Kabobs maybe, but not saté.

They do offer the American Burger XXL, “a real American double cheeseburger”. I wonder what cheese they use. Probably goudse. The burger comes with the usual toppings such as lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, but they also throw in cucumber for that little something different. There’s also a special “hamburger sauce”. No telling what that could be. Thousand Island dressing, just like McDonald’s Big Mac “special sauce”?

Speaking of sauces, they have a whole section devoted to sauces, but even here, they’re so very Dutch. Knoflooksaus (garlic sauce and very tasty), whiskysaus, shaslicksaus (I have NO idea, seems to be some sort of bbq sauce), currysaus, fritesaus (basically, mayonnaise), appelmoes (apple sauce), and of course, saté sauce. There’s one other sauce listed: American fritessaus. Frites are fries, so it’s American fries sauce. You’d think that would be ketchup, wouldn’t you. You’d be wrong. It’s also mayonnaise. I’m not really sure how it differs from regular fritessaus. Can anyone offer a good explanation? For what it’s worth, there’s no ketchup listed in the sauces. I’m not sure it’s available at all. I prefer mayonnaise for my fries, anyway, so it’s not a loss for me, but it’s still funny to think of an “American” restaurant not having ketchup.

When I was joking with G about the menu and the subtle differences, his response was, “Welcome to my world.” He’s right; now I know how he feels any time he goes into an “Italian” restaurant. Similar base ingredients are there, but what is done with them from then on can be quite different! It’s not bad, it’s just different.

We picked up a package of ribs at the grocery store for today’s celebration. Unfortunately, they’ve already got their own marinade/seasoning, so I can’t do my voodoo that I love to do. There were three options in the flavoring: Indian, Piri Piri, and Texan. We went with Texan. I’ll let you know how that goes.

(This post is dedicated to Kerryanne and Ken, a couple of fellow Americans I got to spend an enjoyable evening with last night. One of our topics of conversation was the differences in foods. I’ll never think of potato salad in the same way!)

34 thoughts on “I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas

  1. Ok, i’ll try to explain the sauces

    appelmoes (appelsauce) is mostly not seen as a sauce, but as a side dish.

    Fritessaus is actually different from mayonaise, as it’s less fatt (and less tasty)

    American fritessaus is like the one they serve at McDonald’s, yellow with green herbs or so. Like the Maddsauce in the supermarket.

    • Ooops. I did mean to point out that apple sauce is the same as in the US, although once again, it would rarely be offered in the US, even as a side dish, unless you’re having pork chops.

      I’ve not eaten at a McDonald’s here, and the ones in the US serve only ketchup, so I’m still a bit confused by the American fritessaus. Maddsauce is another new one (to me). We don’t really have the same variety of sauces in the US that are so popular here. Why is it called American fritessaus?

        • Ah, if McDonald’s introduced it, then I guess I can understand. They knew ketchup wasn’t the condiment of choice for fries here, so did their own version — which sounds like tartar sauce from what Sonya said. I did wonder if that’s what it would be. We usually use tartar sauce for fried fish, so now if I get the urge to have tartar sauce, I guess I should just buy the American fritessaus!

      • It’s not tartaar sauce, we have it at McDonald’s as well, but it’s only served on the Fish Filet. I’ll try to check out the ingrediënts

      • Actually applesauce is gaining acceptance as a side dish, at least here in Fort Collins. It’s mostly offered for kids in place of fries (and fortunately my kids often choose applesauce) but some places do have it as an adult side as well. And not just with pork chops (which always reminds me of the Brady Bunch 🙂 )

        • That’s true, I did see it as an occasional side dish before we moved, but not as often as I see it here. It’s just really popular here. The kicker here with this menu was that it was listed with the sauces, not the side dishes. Technically correct, I suppose, but still amusing.

          Apple sauce with pork was something other people (like the Brady Bunch) did, but not something my family did, so I’ve never gotten used to having the stuff with a savory meal. It’s a snack or dessert to me. Also excellent as a healthy replacement for oil in baking recipes. 😉

  2. The Mcdonalds sauce reminds me of tartar sauce..lol That photo and menu is so funny though. We are bbqing today aswell! we bought a bunch of kebobs and wouldnt you know it..sate is what they offered..lol

    Happy 4th of July 🙂 Oh have u noticed that they do burritos differently here too. I had my oldest sons friend come over for dinner. I served burritos and he smacked them all down. He said they were so good and that his Mom didn’t know how to make them. He said it was filled with broccoli,rice,and stir fry veggies..maybe she ment to make fajitas? lol

    • I did wonder if the American fritessaus was sort of like tartar sauce after Iooryz’ description. Good to know if I get the urge for tartar sauce! I hope you enjoyed your bbq and (saté) kabobs! That’s interesting to hear about the burritos. It sounds like even they have an Indonesian twist here! Speaking of fajitas, have you figured out the Dutch name for flank steak? Or what about pot roast?

  3. I love this post, Alison. It is fascinating to read about other countries perception of American food. I am sure that immigrants here in the states probably cringe at some of the ethnic food that we have here. 😀

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely been interesting to me to see the things that stand out to people here as being somewhat typical American. It does give me a whole new appreciation for immigrants in the US.

    • You know, I keep pulling it out to remind myself, and then putting it back somewhere safe. I’m going to find a mailing tube for it this week, one way or another. I’ll let you know when it goes out. Sorry for the delay!

    • It turned out that the flavor was Texas, not Texan. 😉 Still, I think it was a good choice. Mild, but generally the right flavor profile. Still not as good as we could do with some baby backs, but it was tasty. Hope you had a fun Fourth!

  4. Alison,
    You need to get your ribs at a butcher, not the supermarket. Years ago you could hardly give ribs away, no one cooked them and then all of a sudden they were in vogue and quadrupled in price everywhere.
    At the butcher they will not be marinated… but may have to be ordered in advance and may arrive frozen. (to be aware of if you were walking into the butcher thinking of having your ribs the same day)
    They will be roughly Euro 10 for two- three long strips … but at the Haagse Markt there are several different cuts of ribs for easily half that price, or less, so we go to the butcher there and buy bulk for parties and bag / freeze them.
    I need to take photos of each these and explain the difference in more detail for you.
    Do you have a butcher at a Markt by you? if not it may well be well worth bringing a cool box for the boot of the car, coming at the time where the Markt here is open and planning a visit to the Hague, and filling your freezer (we have a guest bedroom if you need a bed) LOL. Then you can do your own rubs and marinades at home and yummmmmmm!
    Hope you had a great 4th July ! 🙂

    • Heh. A trip just to buy ribs doesn’t sound unreasonable. 😉 Unfortunately, we have one of the small refrigerators (and thus small freezer), so we can’t do a lot of bulk buying and freezing, otherwise we probably would be making a trip there just to do that!

      But yes, we do have a butcher that sells ribs here; we just didn’t plan in advance for the holiday, so the decision to buy the supermarket ribs was a last-minute choice. They were decent and surprisingly inexpensive and the one we bought was just the right portion for the two of us.

  5. Oh and yes, one of our local restaurants told us that whilst the change the menu fairly regularly, one item will never change.. three guesses at that item…” kip state” (Chicken sate) because it’s apparently the most popular item on the menu, (go figure)???
    Wow, LOL I can’t believe I’m talking food… my tummy bug of all last night is obviously starting to clear up. I’m looking at some dry bread with intent so that’s progress. I’ll head back to bed to catch up on the sleep I didn’t get last night for feeling woozy every 2 minutes… Thanks for the menu laugh, I was feeling pretty miserable and needed cheering up.

    • Kipsaté is everywhere! I can’t think of a menu I’ve seen without it. I’m sorry to hear you had such a rough night, but glad to hear you’re on the mend. Glad I could provide a bit of a giggle!

  6. Shaslik sauce is a spicy, peppercorn ketchupy sauce

    Germans use it on pork kebabs. I buy it here in Canada in German delis and use it on burgers, pork and in stews for flavour.

    • Ah ha! That explains why when I looked it up, it tended to be grouped with BBQ sauce. Thanks for the explanation! (Thanks for stopping by, too. How’s your hound?)

  7. I love the title you gave to this post :o)
    I’ll join G. in saying “welcome to my world!” I guess that serving authentic dishes here might be difficult to do, due to the lack of some ingredients, or the lack of authentic (in this case) American chefs, or they would just not sell if they don’t include all the Dutch twists, like the kipsaté that you will find in an Italian, Chinese, Indonesian or Sweddish restaurant in Holland.
    I’ve eaten food here labelled “Argentijns” that I’ve never had in my entire life back home! :o) As long as it is lekker I don’t mind at all! Or do I? (I have Italian genes after all hehe)

    • Ah yes, the tradition of recipes that don’t exist in the original country. I remember learning that pasta alfredo didn’t exist in Italy. An Italian friend of mine joked that he was wondering who Alfredo was when he first saw it on a menu in the US. I tend to treat foreign foods done outside their native country as dishes in and of themselves without necessarily thinking of them as “Italian” or “Argentinian”, etc. Less possibility of disappointment that way!

  8. This looks hilarious! The ‘lekkerste’ is also a wordplay on the girl in the photo. Meaning she’s a hottie.

    In Holland we don’t have something like cole slaw, we have rauwkost, which is alike yet still different because it’s not supposed to be eaten with dressing. Man, they went overboard… it looks so funny 🙂

    That’s the thing that always makes me smile when I read American food blogs, they’ll post an apple crumble and name it Dutch apple taart, things like that. I love how those things get mixed up! makes for some pretty interesting dishes now and then.

    Best one yet: American frietsaus in the AH. Like Americans eat their fries with mayo, much less the Dutch McDonalds style mayo. Gotta love it.

    • I forgot about the “lekker ding” meaning!

      I think there are quite a few dishes that have suffered from the Duits/Dutch mistranslation, such as the Dutch baby pancake things that I’ve read about. Of course, groups of people in the US have that same mistranslation applied to them, as well.

      Regardless, it’s always interesting to see how one country’s food is translated into another country’s food culture.

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