Musings on Minor Dutch Differences

Pretty Clouds [Day 109/365]
After living here for four years, I’ve gotten fairly used to life here and don’t really notice some of the little differences any more. But every once in a while something catches my attention and makes me smile.

For example, the molen (windmill) in the photo is here in town in an urban area. It’s also where we went to buy some special cuts of meat, because the base of it is now a butchery. How many people get to go to a butcher housed in a windmill?

On the other hand, while visiting the kerstmarkt (Christmas market) the other week, we got to try a BBQ pulled pork wrap. The guy making the food had a large BBQ grill/smoker like the ones you see in the US at BBQ competitions, etc. Pulled pork isn’t common here, so as he was serving it up to us, he asked if we’d ever eaten something like this before. I had to laugh. Actually, I thought I had misunderstood what he’d said, since we had been ordering in Dutch. It turns out I did understand him, but the question threw me for a loop. Growing up in the South, there’s no shortage of pulled pork. In fact, there are whole regional differences in how you cook and dress your pulled pork. For example, vinegar sauce vs tomato-based sauce.

The funny thing is, it’s not the first time someone has asked me that about a food I take for granted. While visiting a local baking supply shop that also sells some treats, they were giving away cheesecake samples and they asked if I’d ever tried it before. That one surprised me even more, but I guess it was new to enough people to warrant the question! I know my friends at American Baking Company have had fun introducing some American desserts to a Dutch audience, but they seem to be winning them over!

To finish off this look at small differences, I’m going to move away from food. This one isn’t particularly Dutch, but the constant wet weather makes it somewhat typically Dutch. We’ve had rain (more drizzles than heavy rain) for more than a week now. Every time I look out the window, if it’s not actually raining, the streets are still obviously wet. Every time I went out in the past two weeks, I’ve gotten rained on, except for the past two days. That just means I’ve gotten lucky.

The part that makes this somewhat amusing is the fact that our house, which dates to the late 1800s, gets temperamental with this much moisture. More specifically, our front door gets temperamental. It getting a bit sodden, I suppose, and doesn’t want to close properly. Once it is closed, it doesn’t want to open, at least not from the inside. Our front door also is a bit curious in that it doesn’t have a typical handle on the inside. There’s a latch on the lock that we usually use to pull the door open. However, when the door decides to stick, it’s hard to get a good grip on the latch.

For the past two days, when someone has come to the door (mainly delivering/picking up packages for neighbours), I’ve been physically incapable of getting the door open! I’ve been pulling on the latch with one hand and using the other hand to get an awkward grip on the mail slot in the door in an attempt to get enough leverage to open the door. In the meantime I was also calling to G for his help and was tempted to yell through the door to have the other person push!

If the rain isn’t going to stop, I’m going to need some rope to fashion a handle so I can pull more easily. At least we have a back door that works, although even the garden door is starting to get a bit sticky now!

19 thoughts on “Musings on Minor Dutch Differences

  1. Alison, our upper level balcony 1930’s kitchen door the same… it faces the rain, you can hear us thumping it open and closed all around the neighbourhood all winter long. (but at least it has a handle!)

    • The whole house rattles when we slam the door to get it shut. Although I think I’ve heard a few other doors on the street being banged shut this week, too! I suspect it’s a common problem. πŸ™‚

  2. It is indeed interesting to see how at some point one stops noticing differences and begins taking things -like a butcher’s housed in a windmill- for granted. There are still things that fascinate me about the NL and the Dutch even though it’s been 10 years since I moved here; but there’s a lot that I don’t notice anymore.

    What I have noticed though, are the slow changes in the way people see food and eat here in the NL. An example: I clearly remember that ten years ago, I couldn’t find fresh pasta in supermarkets at all. Now they all have a section (albeiit still small) with all sorts of fresh pasta, including filled pasta. Since pasta was for me the classic weekend meal from back home, I needed to be able to make it, and I wanted to get a pasta maker and asked around where I could find that; no one knew what I was talking about. Now you see pasta makers and all sorts of gadgets and shapes to make it everywhere.
    You also see now exotic fruits and vegetables, and gadgets or ingredients to make elaborate dishes at home. This is also the first year, for example, that I see whole turkeys at the local C1000 and AH, never before had I seen that here in Z.

    I think that you might have to improvise some kind of handle for that door really soon or one of these days you’ll have to climb out the window to go do the shopping! πŸ™‚

    Merry Christmas to you and G.!!

    • It’s funny the foods that are still hard to find. Even orzo takes a bit of work to track down, although there are more shops that do have it now. I did notice turkeys yesterday at the grocery store we go to! I wish they’d start stocking them in November for American Thanksgiving, even if just for a couple of days! πŸ™‚ It’s nice, though, to see a slightly broader selection of food items showing up. I hope it continues to expand.

  3. Funny story about your house not “liking” the weather πŸ™‚ I guess all old houses have this problem, with the woodwork expanding and things not being level anmore because of the age of the building. As for the foods, I guess cheesecake is pretty common now but it is a fairly recent “discovery” we made over here. Pulled pork definitely isn’t, and I have no clue what it is (other than pork meat). It sounds delicious though! Whole turkeys for Christmas are definitely not a Dutch tradition, so that would be something imported, to go with the imported Santa Claus. Still no Chrsitmas stockings over here though, maybe they will follow Santa and the turkeys soon πŸ™‚

    • Pulled pork really is delicious. It’s basically various cuts of pork meat that have been cooked for a long time on a low heat to keep it tender and so that it “pulls” apart very easily. It’s usually served shredded, rather than cut, since it’s so tender.

  4. Would it not be possible to use screws to attach a handle to the inside, Alison? Or do the terms of your lease not permit that?

    My sympathies with the rain. How much it rains or drizzles in the Netherlands, from January through December, did not become clear to me until we had emigrated. It really is a “kikkerland”.

    Best wishes for Christmas and the new year!

    • We own the house, so we could put a proper handle on, but it’s usually not that much of an issue. The solid 2+ weeks of rain has made it particularly temperamental!

  5. I can just *see* the “push me, pull you” battle that you’re having with that door. Mine has some issues with the humidity over here, but nothing like what you’re describing. You will have to let us know if you do fashion a rope pull and how that works for you. *grin*

    • I did manage to get the door open today, with only a bit of a tussle. However, it’s been raining again, so I don’t know if I’d be as lucky now! I’ve misplaced the twine I was going to use. I suppose I’d better continue the hunt!

  6. Your getting asked about whether you’ve tried pulled pork before made me smile.

    I grew up in a region where hot & spicy foods are a daily dietary “requirement”. When I eat out, I usually opt for the spicier dishes so it always amuses me when someone tries to sell me a certain dish and when I ask if it’s hot/spicy, *assures* me that it’s not. πŸ™‚

    • I’m the one they’re thinking of when they give the “reassurance”. I’m a wuss when it comes to super hot food, although I’ve been trying to build up a tolerance by adding Sriracha to more and more dishes. πŸ™‚

  7. Supermarkets have slowly opened up their assortment greatly the past 10-15 years. When my parents first came over in the mid 70s, you weren’t even allowed to touch the veggies. Pick your own? Most certainly not!! An employee did that for you.

    My house isn’t as old as yours, but our front door is as temperamental. Only with the opposite weather, when it gets warm (>24C) the top hand corner expands and you need quite some force to pry it open. Guess tis a good thing those warm days aren’t that common. πŸ˜‰

    • There’s a small grocer near us that takes care of handling most of the veggies, although I think that’s to make the most of the space available, but probably a little bit of the leftover habits.

      I know our door has stuck in the summer when it’s been particularly humid, but I might just be mistaking that for the multiple wet summers we’ve had. πŸ˜‰

  8. I am back in forever rainy UK at the moment where the bacon is much meatier than the fatty Oscar Meyer back in NYC. And coffee, I miss the richer European flavour . . .

    Your front sounds like such a work out!

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