Dutch lunch | Undutchables

Dutch lunch

Categorie: Cultural

Have you been in that situation yet where you are sitting down for lunch with adult men who have lunch boxes from which they take out a sandwich with chocolate sprinkles and drink a glass of milk? Then you must have been having lunch with the Dutch. 

In terms of sandwich spreads nothing seems to faze them. The combination of brown bread and cheese is well known. But what about peanut butter and honey? Peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles? The chocolate sprinkles on their own? Maybe you have even experienced a Dutch person smear speculoos on their bread. A peanut butter like sustenance that tastes of the speculaas cookies. Yes, you read that correctly, it is basically a cookie paste that is spread on bread. Not to mention kokosbrood… a white hard substance that tastes like coconut and sugar and is layered onto bread.

One of the things that seems to baffle foreigners in the Netherlands  is the consistency of the bread toppings. As an expat once pointed out, the Dutch like to make it difficult to get the topping to actually stick to the bread. Things such as hagelslag tend to go everywhere when eating it. Not to mention the famous muisjes. Even though this is not traditionally used as a bread topping; it is mostly eaten with crackers after a baby is born, butter in itself is never a strong enough vehicle to make sure that the little anise seeds do not go flying everywhere.  The same can be said for the chocolate sprinkles which you will find imprinted on your couch, clothes and carpet after lunch due to the fact that they tend to go flying through the air with any small movement. 

Dutch sandwich spread can be discussed endlessly amongst visitors and expats. Whereas most countries tend to have a warm meal in the middle of the day or at least a slightly more elaborate lunch than a sandwich the Dutch have taken sandwich lunches and toppings to the next level. An American business woman once told a story to an Undutchables employee about this cultural experience. She was at a World Bank meeting in the Netherlands and just before lunch one of her American colleagues whispered do not look to surprised but all these men in suits are going to take out sandwiches with a meat pate spread and a glass of milk. She laughed recalling the memory and said that of all the lunch meetings she had all over the world for her work this one seemed to have made the biggest impression.


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