Cheese, Sausage and New York

File this posting under random thoughts and observations.

I’ve noticed this year that I’ve seen a LOT of people here (usually student-age) wearing the famous I [Heart] NY t-shirts. It seems too prevalent and too much of a fashion thing to be just the result of a lot of tourism to NYC. The other night, while pointing out to G yet another person sporting one of the shirts, he reminded me that the Dutch do have a special connection to NY. I guess those early Dutch expats were sending back t-shirts to their relatives here in the Netherlands with an I [heart] NA(msterdam) logo, the same way American expats now send back wooden clogs to the family members back home.

Yeah, the whole conversation was much funnier in person.

Speaking of jokes getting lost in translation …
Going through my Twitter feed this morning (I finally got the new Twitter!), I saw a link to this humorous “grilled cheesus” t-shirt. Funny stuff, but I realized that I kind of missed the joke about “The Goude News” upon first reading. Sure, if you pronounce Gouda the English way (gooda), it makes sense and it’s funny. If you pronounce it the Dutch way, you miss something. (If you go to the Wiki page for Gouda, you can listen to the Dutch pronunciation.)

As the famous saying goes, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I know just enough Dutch now to ruin certain jokes for me. Don’t even get me started on this season’s first episode of The Simpsons and their references to Den Haag (The Hague) and such. I guess it was a bit like the Flight of the Conchords‘ joke in that episode when they referenced the Wellington Botanical Gardens. Sometimes jokes work best when you’re not so well-informed! (And in the case of this whole paragraph, if you don’t know what the person is talking about, the whole thing gets confusing. Apologies.)

On the other hand, Dutch pronunciation, when heard by an English-speaker, can be both eye-opening and amusing. We learned about Vocking sausage/meats/liverworst the other night. One of our Dutch friends had a bit of fun with us on that one. Let’s just say that the V in Dutch often has more of an F sound, and leave the rest to your own imagination. I do try to keep this blog somewhat clean. My parents might be reading. 😉 That said, I do recommend Vocking if you’re here in Utrecht. Very tasty! I gather it’s only really available in the Utrecht region, though, as the owner wants to keep it strictly an Utrecht thing.

Different Donderdag: Highways

Overpass
A highway is a highway is a highway. There probably aren’t that many differences from one highway to another, from one country to another, at least in the standard western world. Aside from the license plate shape, the picture above really doesn’t look much different from any similar highway scene I remember from the US. Still, there are a few differences you’ll notice on Dutch highways compared to American highways (and I use highway interchangeably with interstates).

First up, the Exit sign is now an Uit sign.
Exit

Speed signs are posted above the road in electronic form that can change as needed.
Speed

We’ve got electronic information signs too, of course, but they’re in Dutch!
Information Highway

There are the big blue signs providing direction to various cities, and information about ring roads.
Ring Around the Rosie

There are even signs directing you toward cheese! Yum! Gouda!
Say Cheese
OK, no, it’s not actually directing you toward cheese, just the city for which the cheese is named.

As you can see, it’s all pretty similar to anywhere else. One thing that is a bit different here is the fact that there aren’t the same huge, ugly billboards everywhere. This is the only one I saw that even remotely came close to the ones I was so used to in America (I saw these South of the Border billboards a lot in North Carolina).
Euro Menu

There are also a lot of wind turbines near the highway here, at least on the stretch we drove from Utrecht toward Rotterdam.
More Molen
You’ll also see lots of fields divided up by canals like these, often with cows, horses and/or sheep hanging around.
Canal
But it’s always going to be flat.
Koeien