The Easily Amused Expat

Franse Fries
It’s usually the fresh-off-the-boat expat who finds fascination with every little new thing, but even when you’ve been in your new country for years, little things — even things you’ve seen on a regular basis — can suddenly jump out at you and remind you that “we’re not in Kansas any more, Toto”.

I’ve been having one of those moments recently as I’ve been passing some of the local McDonalds restaurants. There’s one on the main street through town (the street that seems to change names ever three meters, but that’s another post) and one on the Oudegracht. The picture is of the one on the Oudegracht, but it was the one on the main street that first caught my eye recently.

Sure, we get the occasional market-specific dish, which is usually something to do with kip saté, but it’s not that kind of poster that stood out this time. This time, it was something as simple and normal and ubiquitous as the French fry. In Dutch, fries (or chips, for my British readers) are usually known as patat or friet (or patatjes or frietjes, because the Dutch love adding the diminutive to everything. It’s adorable.) The choice of word tends to be more regional, with patat seeming to be more northern and variations on friet are typically more southern. As an expat, I say both, because I don’t know where I live any more.

French fries is a fairly American term, resulting from American troops eating fries for the first time in Belgium but associating them with the French language they heard at the time. Or so the story goes. In fact, here in the Netherlands, I don’t really remember seeing the “French” addition to the name. I’m sure the occasional restaurant might use it, such as an American-style diner or something, but otherwise, the only place you’re more likely to see “Franse Frietjes” is at McDonalds.
Franse Fries
And that’s what is amusing me. The posters for “Franse Frietjes”. Perhaps it’s standing out since I don’t see the “Franse” addition often, or maybe it’s just amusing to see such an American term translated.

Or maybe it’s because subconsciously it reminds me of this scene in Better Off Dead:

Nederlands Film Festival


It’s that time again! The Nederlands Film Festival begins it’s 10-day run tomorrow. As I type, they’re setting up the Golden Calf in front of the Stadsschouwburg over on Lucabolwerk. They’ve had some of the posters up for the past few days, but the Golden Calf wasn’t there and I was worried it had been a one-off thing last year. As I took Pippo out this morning, I was thrilled to see a flash of gold through the trees. Jahoe!

Sadly, no Rutger Hauer this year, at least not publicized; he received a special award last year. That was when I found out he was Dutch. I’d always thought he was German or Scandinavian. How embarrassing! Despite being a fan of his for years, I’d never been sure of his nationality. I blame it on the fact that we couldn’t just Google any celeb we were curious about back in the day, so the reality was I knew next to nothing about Hauer except for the fact that he made some very cool films.

This year, they’re focusing on Dutch filmmakers who have gained some popularity in the international market, but haven’t really been well-known domestically. The title of the theme is The Dutch Angle, a bit of a pun, since that is also a technical term for a particular type of angle or perspective in filming. The Wikipedia entry gives a good example, since it doesn’t make as much sense when just described, at least not to me.

Oh, and for the record, the Golden Calf is the award statuette that is given to the winners on the final night of the festival. Sort of like the Oscar.


Pippo checking out the recently installed film festival set-up at the Neude. He approves the color choices.