Subtle Signs of Integration

Frietsaus of wietsaus?
Deciding to enjoy the nice weather — which turned out to be much warmer than yesterday! — we headed out to take a few photos and then get our hands on the “gratis frites” from Manneken Pis. Since we were over by the Stadhuis, we went to the shop on Steenweg. There was a steady, but fast-moving line of people getting their friet with the choice of wietsaus (weed sauce) or mayo/frietsaus. I asked for wietsaus, but I think we both got frietsaus, which tastes a lot like tartar sauce, to be honest.


The friet were tasty, as always, but also really hot! To give them a bit of time to cool off, we headed over to Flora’s Hof to have a seat and enjoy the friet and scenery. I hadn’t eaten many before I started to feel full, despite not having had anything to eat before heading out. The free size was the smallest size they offered, which is even called the kinder (child) size. The Dutch need to stop making fun of American portions if that’s their child size! G and I both figured we could have split one easily! I guess I really am getting used to smaller portions. Look! It’s a handfull!

Kinder Size

On the way home, we happened to see a couple walking next to their bikes, which were the normal bikes, nothing sporty. The odd thing was that the woman was wearing a helmet. The only time I see an adult wearing a bicycle helmet these days is if they’re doing the full-on sport cycling. My first thought was that she must be a tourist/foreigner.

Between finding the smallest portion of food to be too large and then seeing an adult wearing a helmet and thinking “they’re not from ’round here”, I had to laugh at how I’ve definitely experienced a shift in thinking since moving here. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Cultural Integration

We frequently watch BBC’s program called Coast, which explores Great Britain’s coastlines, along with those of other nearby countries. One episode focused on the Netherlands, but I missed that episode when it first aired and only recently tracked it down. Watching it this afternoon, I realized that although my Dutch is still limited, my cultural integration has definitely expanded.

The program featured a short piece on fierljeppen, which I’ve written about before. I recognized it immediately, and soon realized that I even recognized one of the athletes! Sure enough, I looked through my photos from the event we went to last year and found the guy in the video, Jaco van Groot. How’s that for integration! Not only did I immediately know what sport they were doing, but I even recognized the athlete.
Setting Up

In another segment of the show, there was a Dutchman used as a local guide during a visit to Scheveningen. (They mispronounced it in the voiceover, something which could have gotten you shot during WWII when the name was used by the resistance as a test to prove that the person actually was Dutch and not a Nazi infiltrator.) While at the beachside town, they enjoyed some raw herring. As I watched and listened to the local, I soon realized that I did, in fact, recognize him, as well! His name is Philip Walkate, and I recognized him from his humourous bits about the Dutch inburgeringscurse (integration course).

And, of course, there was the bit about Dutch cuisine. As they commentators discussed the popularity of Indian cuisine in Britain, I knew immediately that they were going to be talking about the popularity of Indonesian cuisine here in the Netherlands. I knew that meant one of two things, saté or the broader rijsttafel. They went with the rijsttafel, a meal that goes well with my love of a selection of lots of smaller dishes.

I was ridiculously thrilled to recognize the athlete and comedian and to realize that I was very familiar with much of the information they provided, although the story about Texel island up north during WWII was something new and fascinating. My cultural integration is moving right along.