The Dutch Oven

My son (5) just experienced his first ever ‘Dutch Oven’. He farted in bed so I threw the covers over his head and held them down. He laughed so hard that he began to hiccup. I then explained to him that this was called a Dutch oven. I smiled to myself as I thought about how ironic it was that I was explaining the concept of the Dutch oven to my child for the first time here in the Netherlands, surrounded by the Dutch. When he finally composed himself, he then asked me why it was called that. I had no idea, so I decided to do a little research. This got the ball rolling and I decided to find out how other sayings involving the Dutch came about..

The Dutch Oven

The “Dutch oven” is a fart chamber created by pulling a blanket over someone’s head and farting. It was given this name based on the cooking action of a traditional Dutch oven (cast iron cooking pot), where food is cooked and steamed inside a closed chamber. Makes sense haha!

Going Dutch

“Going Dutch” is a term that indicates that each person participating in a group activity pays for themselves. The action probably got its name as the Dutch were internationally known for being tight with their money. However, I find that the Dutch are extremely generous and will foot the entire bill if they initiated the dinner. It is becoming more the norm nowadays to split the bill between friends and family. Maybe this was always the case?

Dutch Auction

A Dutch auction is an auction in which the auctioneer starts the auction at a high price, then begins to offer the goods at gradually decreasing prices. The first bidder to accept becomes the purchaser; the reversed process of a normal auction. A much quicker auction than normal. It began when traders from the Ottoman Empire brought tulip bulbs to Holland. Their novelty made them an instant favorite, and the demand for the bulbs grew quickly. This drove the prices high, so the Dutch auction was invented to get traders in and out with what they wanted as quickly as possible and at a high price.

Double Dutch

“Double Dutch” actually has two meanings. It can be used when describing a hard to understand language or babbling – no further explanation needed here!!  It also means the jumping of two jump ropes rotating in opposite directions simultaneously. This game is very popular world wide, particularly in America where it may have originally been introduced by the first Dutch settlers.

Dutch Courage

“Dutch courage” is basically alcohol induced self-confidence. To have an alcoholic drink right before a task you are dreading. This term originates from a time when England was fighting a war alongside the Dutch. The English soldiers noticed that Dutch sailors took their alcohol allowance just before battle, whereas the English Royal Navy men drunk throughout the whole day.

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So there you go. Interesting hey! The Dutch have been well known all around the world since the Dutch Golden Age (17th Century). They were seafarers and explorers, travelling the world and inspiring phrases such as these along the way.

There are many more sayings involving the Dutch. For instance, the “Dutch Rudder”…but umm..I will let you do your own research on that one 🙂

Kristen.

 

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Date Night

My husband and I have been together for sixteen years. In the beginning I spent quite a lot of my time each day, making sure that I looked good for him. I had a daily ritual which involved shaving, moisturising, working out, applying makeup to perfection etc. However, many times since we were married nine years ago, he has seen me looking far from perfect. Actually, he has seen me looking like I was just attacked by bear. In a bush. Then dragged through it backwards. He has also seen me give birth. Twice. Need I say more?  Generally, I choose not to burp in front of my husband. However if I do, I am not crippled with shame. It has been a long, long time since I was worried about my husband seeing me look (or sound) bad. But I still like to make an effort to look nice for him too.

Since we had kids, life began to revolve around the children. As it should. But romance did tend to die out a little. We soon realised that it was just as important to keep our relationship with each other tip-top, as it was bringing up our children in a successful manner. Thus, date night came about. Nowadays, once a month we hire a babysitter, reserve a table at a local restaurant and go on a date night. The anticipation of our night out together, child-free is wonderful. I like to put on a nice dress and do my makeup, then we head out into town, hand in hand. It is so lovely to sit in a nice non-child friendly restaurant and have a non-interrupted conversation with each other. Granted, the topic of our conversation usually falls back to the children. But, we talk about them with smiles on our faces and reflect on how fast they are growing up. We drink a few wines, get a little giggly and by the end of the night we usually end up making out like teenagers, re-finding that spark that attracted us to each other sixteen years ago.

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My husband will probably kill me for sharing this photo LOL, but it’s for a good cause :). Everyone has heard about date nights before, but yet, if you’re like most couples, you’ll read it, you’ll note it, and then you’ll ignore it. We have busy lives and so we forget to make the effort or we are simply too tired and the temptation to lounge on the couch and watch Netflix is too much. Don’t get me wrong, I love these nights in too, but I highly recommend that couples make date night a regular occurrence. A family night out to the movies or eating out at one of Beren restaurants with your kids doesn’t count (although also great!). Book that babysitter. Mark it on your calendar. Maybe even buy a new dress and just enjoy the anticipation of it. Date night is not a luxury, it’s an essential.

So when will your next date night be?

Kristen.

 

Cultural Differences in the Way People Drink

It wasn’t until I left my own home country, that I realised that peoples’ attitudes towards drinking alcohol differs drastically all over the world. Just between the two countries of Australia and the Netherlands, there are several major differences in the way that people drink and how culture has influenced them.

To binge or not to binge?  That is the question

In Australia, one drinks quite a lot of alcohol. It is the norm and seen everywhere all over the country. We are extremely social, love parties and are literally experts on binge drinking. Simply put, in any sort of social environment, we drink alcohol – and lots of it. If you go to visit a friend, the first thing they’ll do is offer you a drink. An alcoholic beverage of some sort. Then you usually just keep going from there. On average though, I would say Australians are happy drunks. So it is enjoyable, social, and in general, Australians sure do know how to have a good time. I mean, what is better than a nice cold beer on a hot day?

Now I’m not saying binge drinking is a good thing, but it is enjoyable. However, it is also extremely dangerous. Learning how to become the expert binge drinker does take much practise and training; and in the beginning, it is not pretty. Most teenagers will binge drink at parties until they throw up. It is all part of the learning process. You learn — how and where to draw the line — the hard way.

When I moved to the Netherlands, I immediately noticed that the Dutch have quite a different attitude towards drinking. Europeans have a rich wine culture and will mostly drink a glass or two of wine (or beer) simply to enjoy the beverage, rather than drink to ‘get drunk’. Alcohol is also not seen as often at parties etc. Actually, if you are invited to an afternoon birthday party, most of the time they are alcohol free! You will be offered tea or coffee. During a Dutch circle party, an alcoholic bevy is EXACTLY what I want and need. On the rare occasion, if the party runs until later, you may be offered a glass of wine or a beer, together with cheese and/or bitterballen.

Of course binge drinking does occur in the Netherlands, particularly on days such as Kings Day and regularly with high school/college/uni students. Previously young people over the age of 16 could legally purchase and consume beer and wine (alcohol <15% ABV). As of 1 January 2014, the minimum legal purchase and consumption age in the Netherlands was raised from 16 to 18 in the Netherlands. This may have helped. Probably not. But still, in general, the Dutch do seem to be much more controlled as far as alcohol intake in concerned.

To BYO or not?

When attending a party in Australia, you usually bring your own (BYO). You rock up with your esky packed full of it; on ice of course, as that Aussie sun is hot! After all, why should the birthday boy/girl have to fork out for everyone else’s drinks. It’s their special day, so I think we should actually be buying them a drink. In Australia we even have BYO restaurants (which I have never seen in Europe). The only exceptions where Australians will purchase the alcohol for all their guests would be on special occasions such as your wedding day or 21st birthday etc. This is most likely due to the price of alcohol, or should I say the alcohol tax. Otherwise, we would never want to host a party as it would simply be unaffordable!

Here in the Netherlands, the person hosting the party will always supply the drinks for all guests. As most people do not drink all that much and the price of alcohol is low, this is doable.  So the only thing you should take along with you to a party is a bunch of flowers for the host/hostess (which will also only set you back about 5 euros).

Breaking the Bank?

The cost of alcohol in the Netherlands is very low. You can get a crate of beer for ten euros, a bottle of wine for five euros or a one litre bottle of whiskey for twenty euros!! It is very affordable. Still, they do not overuse and abuse it.

Aussies love to drink, but they pay through the nose for it. Aussies are actually paying among the highest prices on the planet. This is due to the alcohol tax. There are 16 different categories and two different taxation systems, depending on alcohol type, concentration, commercial use, and container size, raising around $6 billion for the government. You can pay around $1 of tax per standard drink!  Meaning that a crate of beer will set you back about AUS$50! This does not, however, deter Australians from buying it.

Which drinking habits are best?

I have experienced both attitudes towards alcohol. I am still not sure which I prefer personally, and probably somewhere in the middle would be good. Moderation is the key.

But one thing I do know for sure is that I am relieved that my children are growing up observing the European attitude towards drinking alcohol. Children pick up on so much. They also witness how people drink alcohol. They observe and learn whether alcohol is drunk with food or not, whether it is drunk in groups or alone, how much of it is consumed and how quickly, and both the positive and negative affects it has on those who drink it. I feel like it is easier to show and teach our children a better attitude towards drinking here than it would be in Australia. If children see adults appreciating wine, for example, – smelling, tasting, discussing and consuming it with meals and in moderation – it may positively impact their drinking habits as young adults. We need to teach our children to respect alcohol and not abuse it. To drink sensibly. That it is ok to stop after one or two glasses. To not feel like they need to drink until they are intoxicated.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good party – and I love alcohol. On the weekends, I may drink 2-5 glasses of wine in the evening, and when we host a party here in Holland, we do it in our own special combined ‘Dutch-Aussie’ style (our guests can drink as much as they’d like – we wont judge you – and we will provide all of it); but.. only once our kids are fast asleep will we drink more than one.

What is the biggest difference you have noticed in regards to the drinking habits here in the Netherlands compared to other countries?

Kristen