Stuff Dutch People Like

Lekker Nederlands – the book!

Cover_cutWe are thrilled to announce that our first Dutch-language book is now on the market! Lekker Nederlands officially hit the shelves last week in the lowlands.

First came the blog…
Lekker Nederlands is the Dutch translation of our best-selling English book Stuff Dutch People Like based on the very blog you are now reading.

Then came the book…in Dutch!!
After many requests, we decided to bundle the best of the blog (plus much more) into a happy little book.  After even more requests, we decided to work with the Dutch publisher Prometheus Bert Bakker to bring you a Dutch version! We wanted to share the book and its celebration of all things Dutch with everyone – even oma and opa can now give it a read!

We’ve made sure to include the most amusing (and controversial) subjects and comments from the blog in the book, as well as a lot of fun facts, posts and additional wit.

Wanna hear what others are saying?

“Het Canadese weblog dat hilarische en ergerlijke gewoonten van Nederlanders op de korrel neemt is een grote hit.” - AD
“Het boek biedt ook de geboren Nederlander verrassende – en soms zorgwekkende – inzichten.” –  NRC Handelsblad

“Lekker Nederlands is een lofzang op de lage landen…Een ontzettend leuk portret van Nederland en Nederlandse gewoontes. Niet alleen voor buitenlanders, maar juist ook voor Nederlanders. Van sommige gewoontes wist ik echt niet dat die zo typisch Nederlands waren.”  - MirandaLeest

Where can YOU get your hands on it?
Lekker Nederlands can now be found in most bookstores in the Netherlands- including most AKO‘s!

You can also order the book on and will have it “morgen in huis”!  

Happy Reading!



A tribute to Antoine van Veldhuizen, a Dutch friend lost on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

In times like this, the only thing I know how to do is write…and so today I will share a very personal post:

I first met Antoine when I was 23, eleven years ago. I was fresh off the boat from Canada, and he was fresh to his job as director at a small online start-up. We met with equal enthusiasm, spirit and the sense of possibility. It was an exciting time and I was thrilled to be part of building something we all believed in.

He was my first actual boss and an excellent one. He gave me endless freedom and far too much responsibility. The job allowed me to travel to Belgium, Germany, England and France. He was game for anything: any idea, any plan, any pitch – as long as you came to him with a solid plan and a feasible budget.

His laugh was loud, unique and infectious. He took risks, took chances and persevered. Above all, he was a kind and supportive man who continually empowered and trusted those around him. He let me delve deep into a whole new fascinating world encouraging me to gain new skills and grow. Hours were long and days were chaotic, but in the chaos I gained skills and experiences that lay the foundation for my career.

I left Expatica – after nearly 4 years with a heavy heart, but it was time to move on. I knew that leaving Expatica did not mean leaving the friend I had made, behind. Sure enough we’ve always kept in touch. Antoine was always the first to congratulate me on any successes I had. He was continually keen to offer help and encouragement where he could.

Over the years, we’d meet regularly for coffee and discuss business, work, life and our families. His face always brightened up when speaking about Simone and the boys. Our easy banter was carefree and comforting. We’d tease each other with the familiarity that comes from working long hours together on chaotic projects and seeing each other at your best, and worst. I loved poking fun at his “Dutchness” and he’d rib me on all things Canadian. He’d laugh (loud!) at the “naive Canadian” intern who he met many moons ago.

A few weeks ago we met and discussed the idea of working together on a new project. The thought of working together again – ten years after first meeting - felt right. His enthusiasm was infectious and I looked forwarded to seeing each other more, in the process of creating something new. The last time we saw each other, a few weeks ago over drinks in the sun, we shared endless laughs and made plans to finally go camping – Dutch style – together this summer with our families.

kindnessOn Monday night I was on the radio discussing my new book. The interview was in Dutch and I was worried about how it went. Two seconds after coming out of the radio studio – I got a text –  from Antoine. I hadn’t told anyone about the show, but he had somehow heard – and in his usual supportive fashion was the first to reach out with kind words. Like he always did, for so many.

That text message on Monday evening was my last correspondence with Antoine – and a true reflection of his character : taking the time out of his busy life, to reach out to others with kindness, heart and humour.

Antoine was one of the first people I met in this country, and he felt – and treated me – like family. He always had a smile on his face, and didn’t take life too seriously. He continually challenged himself and others around him to dream big  and be better. He was adventurous, smart and driven.  But at the end of the day, after all his accomplishments, he was one of those special people who strived – above all – to just be a good person. And he truly was.

Antoine, Simone and their two young boys (Quint and Pijke) will all be truly missed.

I am but one person – of the so very many – who is better off for having known Antoine, Simone, Quint and Pijke.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy.


No. 62: not queuing

I’ve done something I never dreamed I would do, something I’ve grumbled and blogged about. I learnt my lesson on “never say never in this country, but as these innocuous sounding words slipped out of my lips, I too was in disbelief.

line cuttingIt happened in the most pedestrian of places, the Albert Hein. I was waiting in line at the paracetamol/cigarettes/shavers/post/randomness counter (you know the one!). Weighed down by an active 1.5 year old, a bag of groceries, and 2 parcels to ship as gifts to the other side of the world - a Dutch person casually sauntered into the store, glanced at the existing line of customers waiting on the 15-year-old to figure out the Dutch postal system, and nonchalantly proceeded to walk up to the counter and place their order. There was clearly a line of customers in sight, and clearly others were waiting (and waiting) patiently to be served. But apparently it did NOT matter.

This was no accidental case of ‘overlooking’ the line. I had seen it happen time and time again, but today was different. Today I was hot and tired, and baby was even more hot and tired and together we weren’t the loveliest of duos. And so, loudly, and brimming with 9 years of why-the-heck-can-you-people-not-learn-to-wait-your-turn’ angst, a little Dutch word escaped my lips.


The perpetrator’s head snapped back to look at me immediately. But apparently I wasn’t stopping there, as I followed up with a loud “doe eens normaal!!” .

I suppose it could be seen as completing some imaginary level of Dutch integration. The Dutch phrase escaped my lips even before I had time to think about my response (let alone the language would be in). No other English or Dutch phrase could have said it better. What did this signify? I’d always laughed at the associations of that culturally ingrained Dutch phrase. Just who defined this set definition of normal?? Was I now on the path of becoming one of them? ;)

cuttingIt must be said: Dutch people have an utter disregard for lines, queuing and generally waiting their turn. When I was fresh-off-the-boat it used to drive me utterly mad. Venturing into the city was an exhausting pursuit: my lack of language skills coupled with Dutch people’s lack of queuing-manners used to make my blood boil. Where were the manners? Where was the civility? Had Dutch people somehow missed that basic childhood lesson of not cutting in line!

But it wasn’t just me. Over the years I’ve heard loads of other foreign friends, visitors and tourists equally irate when discussing he matter. I remember a good Aussie friend of mine describing her daily commute from Utrecht to Amsterdam each morning. When boarding and exiting each train, bus and metro she encountered a mad stampede of line cutting, pushing and elbows. Exasperated one evening over drinks she proclaimed. “I can’t do it anymore. I feel my blood pressure rising every morning in this country. It’s like boarding the train with effing animals!”

Good luck!

Good luck my friends! Time to start pushing ;)

Over the past decade, I’ve seen some progress in the Dutch domain of queuing… or at least I believe I have.  Sometimes it’s hard to get a grasp on my own cultural evolution and that of the Dutchies. Had they really gotten better at queuing or had I just become more tolerant of the chaos? Had they changed, or had I?

One thing is for sure , I can’t say I really notice it that much any more – apart from the odd harried day at Albert Hein when my Canadian roots take hold and oddly, shout out in Dutch.


p.s. perhaps this video should be mandatory viewing? ;)

♫ ♫ “You gotta wait your turn. You gotta wait your turn. It’s only fair to wait right there! No cuts, no butts, no coconuts!” ♫ ♫ 

No. 61: Football (& the World Cup)


Dutch National Team – World Cup 2014 in Brazil

You knew it was coming, right? ;)

You cannot possibly have a blog discussing stuff that the Dutch like and not have freakin’ FOOTBALL on the list!

It’s a good time to be in the Netherlands: the sun is shinning, everyone seems to be on some sort of extended holiday, the World Cup is playing, and the Dutch are doing pretty darn well so far! So well in fact, that the chances of the Dutch team making it to the finals could be a bloody reality real soon!

Dutch people are (unlike myself a self-proclaimed “football-fan-when-gezellig“) mad for the stuff and take it very seriously ALL year round. In fact, football (aka: soccer) is THE most popular sport in the Netherlands! (America’s most popular sport is also ‘football’ – but we’re talking the oval ball kind) ;)

The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) was founded in 1889 and later joined FIFA in 1904 as one of the founding members alongside Spain, France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. To put this is perspective, Canada – the COUNTRY- was only founded a short 12 years before the first Dutch football club was founded!

vanpersieOver the decades Dutch people have madly cheered on their beloved Oranje - while dressed in oranje! Sadly the Flying Dutchmen have never been able to secure a World Cup win. Of course, there have been many near-misses but victory has remained elusive…

The Dutch team however are winners at something: unfortunately that something happens to be the number of times a team has reached the World Cup finals without ever winning.  3 times, my friends! 3  heart-breaking times! :( :( :(

8 random Dutch football facts:

  1. Official jerseys are orange (or sometimes blue)
  2. Hup Holland Hup is the most popular football cheer
  3. The Dutch did win the European Cup in 1988 (but it ain’t no World Cup!)
  4. Their biggest loss ever was to England in 1912. The score was 12-2 (Bwhahaha – how things have changed!)
  5. In the 1970′s the Dutch team was nicknamed “Clockwork Orange” for their passing precision
  6. The Dutch invented the term “total football” – a strategic tactic where every player plays every position while on the field (i.e. defense, offense, midfield)
  7. Dutch coaches are high on the export list (they famoulsy helped boost South Korea, Australia, Russia, and so on!)
  8. Patrick Kluivert  Robin van Persie is the team’s top scorer  (with 40 46 goals!)
  9. Zee Germans are the Dutch team’s mortal enemy! (Of course!)
The German-Dutch rivalry is legendary. Here, Dutch footballer Frank Rijkaard spits on German Rudi Völler during the 1990 World Cup.

The German-Dutch rivalry is legendary. Here, Dutch footballer Frank Rijkaard spits on German Rudi Völler during the 1990 World Cup.

Tonight the Dutch play against Argentina. So many questions: Will oranje pull this off??  Will we see the Dutch in the finals for the fourth time? Who will they battle? Will they finally be able to make history?

One thing is for sure: NOTHING would be more crushing then a loss to the Germans! (If that happens – head for the border folks! Flee!!! You certaintly don’t want to be in the country while a national depression takes hold!!)



P.S. Have you got your ORANGE gear ready? Them Dutchies take fandom preeeetty seriously!

P.P.S. Oh…and if you’re wondering who I’m cheering for? It’s the Dutch of course! Afterall, they’ve got a Canadian on their team!

No. 60: Equal rights for dogs

1336990666_da9aa873be_bLife is good for ‘man’s best friend‘ in the lowlands. In fact, Dutch dogs lead an extraordinarily charmed lifeenjoying rights, privileges and luxuries not normally afforded to their furry friends across the Atlantic.

Not sure what I speak of? Just take a look around and you will find dutch dogs living large! Why strut the streets when you can have free access to excellent public transportation (think buses, trams, metros, etc.)? Looking to see more of the world? You’re in luck, as Dutch doggies can ride the trains for an affordable 3 euros/day! 

189900965_aa74dce707_bDutch dogs also need never spend a lonely night at home, as they can head on over to the local pub or restaurant. Yes, believe it or not, canines are allowed to wine and dine in the vast majority of the Netherland’s restaurants, shops, bars, pubs and cafés! It is not an unusual sight to see a furry friend munching on some grub at the next table over.

If all this sounds like madness, you are not alone. Many an expat, tourist (and even a Dutchie) can be heard grumbling over the omnipresence of dogs in the lowlands (and of course, we do sympathize with those with allergies…).

A line has to be drawn somewhere, and it seems the entry rights of Dutch doggies have been denied to the lowland’s many cultural entities. Rest assured you will be able to enjoy a dazzling Van Gogh or Rembrandt without a wagging tail smacking your leg in enjoyment.

Dutch dogs have many a talent and are as skilled as their owners in the realm of bike-riding. Whether they occupy shotgun (the coveted front basket), the back seat (sweet-heart style), or  are tucked neatly in a saddle bag, these doggies can be found cruising the canals in a typical laid-back dutch style.

Who ever coined the phrase “It’s a dog’s life”, certainly had not lived a day in the life of a Dutch dog!





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