|Photo courtesy of Amy Schnecker|
What this love doesn't include, however, are the Dutch eating habits.
I've had the honour to share several meals with Dutch men and women from time to time including breakfast, lunch and supper. But these experiences are always slightly daunting to me and I start wondering a lot of things about myself: Am I actually harbouring a psychological issue and restricting myself from eating? Am I simply too slow with eating? Do I have bad manners, even though I always thought my mother brought me up to have impeccable manners?
It all started when I began staying in hotels with my Dutchman when we travelled. We all know that hotel breakfast buffets are, to say the least, enormous and definitely way overboard of what people actually require for a breakfast. We've all been there; facing the front of the breakfast room only to be met by various different ovens and fridges storing all manner of items from meats to cheeses to 100 different types of breads (seeded and non seeded of course)...and don't forget the pastry counter where you can eat all sorts of things that probably SHOULDN'T be eaten so early in the morning.
As a rule, my Dutchman thinks it best to make the most of what he's paid for. In other words, grab whatever you can and eat until you cannot eat any more (If you're reading this, I'm sorry, I love you!). Whereas I can't even face the idea of eating something besides bread or fruit at 8 in the morning, his appetite seems to hold no boundaries.
Typically, when eating with a Dutchie at breakfast, you're going to see them make some kind of sandwich. On their plate you're going to notice various different breads, two or three pieces of cheese and some kind of cold meat. Then they create a sandwich with just one slice of bread, filled up with all of those ingredients and then folded in half. After that, they might take some fruit or cake or pretty much whatever else they can get their hands on.
Breakfast is tame compared to the two other meal times. Breakfast is like a walk in the park you can enjoy with just a slight awkwardness, noticing that you're not eating half as much as your Dutch counterparts. Wait until just a mere two or three hours later, however, when lunch time comes around.
Lunch is between 12 and 1 pm exactly, not an hour later or earlier. If you are at home. lunch is going to be the same sandwich trick again with one piece of bread filled with all kinds of sausages and cheeses. You might eat one or two sandwiches and this will suffice for a few more hours.
Around 3 p.m. you're going to get hungry again (really, am I?) and therefore it's time to find a snack. Maybe another sandwich or a cookie or a huge piece of cake to go with your coffee. Whatever it is, make it large enough that it will hold you over until dinner time.
A couple of hours later and it's 5 p.m. - dinner time. You could just get away with having dinner at 6....but then you're really cutting it close! Dinner time is all about portions, portions, portions - size really DOES matter.
Dinner at a Dutch table has always been awkward for me. Firstly, because I'm not used to eating at a dinner table (in my family, we gave up sitting down and eating together almost 10 years ago); secondly because, due to my job, I don't have a 'normal' dinner time (rather a late night snacking time); and thirdly because it's so regimented and rule-orientated.
If you're lucky and with a non-religious family or friends, you may be spared grace around the table before dinner. Many a time have I been subjected to the embarrassment of not only not knowing how to behave in the right manner during grace (eyes closed, eyes not closed? Hands up to chin, hands not up to chin?) but I've also been subjected to my stomach making what can only be described as monstrous acidic noises loud enough to rival a WWII Air raid alarm during the silence. It always happens at the wrong moment, doesn't it?
If you're at a Dutch home, chances are your meal is going to consist of the following: some kind of meat, a pot of potatoes (which have more than likely been boiled) and a pot of a various vegetables which could be a leek, broccoli or any other 'normal' vegetable, but please do not expect anything exotic like pumpkin or cauliflower.
There's only two rules during Dutch dinner times: 1) Fill your plate up with as much food as possible and 2) ALWAYS finish what's on your plate and even better, any other food that's left on the table. Waste is a bad thing!
I like the mentality of not wasting food, but the Dutch are extreme with it...maybe too extreme. And it does not help that their tastes are quite rigid and strict. They do not stray past the border of normal Dutch food other than to sometimes delve into Indonesian.
The one thing I do like about meal times in the Netherlands is that, while people at home in England often refer to me as a little pig because of how I eat, in the Netherlands I’m considered to be almost wasting away and people are always trying to feed me up. What a compliment!
By Amy Schnecker, a 23 year old South African-Austrian girl living in a little town in the South East of England for the past 12 years. She loves making things, baking things and...creating things! Most people who know her describe her as a 'pretend Dutchie', but she takes this is a compliment. She travels a lot and mostly enjoys it...the country she's been to the most times by now is definitely the Netherlands. She calls it her second home.
The opinions and content within this post are solely those of the guest poster and in no way reflect the views of the Clogs and Tulips blog or its blogger.