‘There isn’t much better than a plate of tiny pancakes’

‘There isn’t much better than a plate of tiny pancakes’

Amy Fuller, 41, is an American who is self-employed and works on process improvement for the payments industry. She has been in the Netherlands for 2.5 years.How did you end up in the Netherlands? My partner’s Dutch, and we made the decision to move here when her mom was diagnosed with cancer.How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international, etc - and why? I guess I’m a mutt: maybe 75% lovepat and 25% expat?How long do you plan to stay? I’m not sure, I still feel like we’re trying to get settled. Time will tell, I suppose. For now we’re renting vs. buying.Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn? I’m trying to learn! I would say that I’m a Beginner. Plus, I’m a shy person and I need to get over my hesitancy to speak it. I’m fairly decent at the following topics: work, family, vacation, health and purchasing stuff. That gets me pretty far, actually.What's your favourite Dutch food and why? Poffertjes! There isn’t much better than getting a plate of tiny pancakes. Also, and this may be somewhat controversial, but I really like Nasi. I was asked this question when I first arrived, and the follow-up question was, 'don’t you like potatoes?'What do you miss about back home and why? I miss my friends and family the most. I didn’t live close by my family, but I was always able to travel home for Christmas, and now it’s not so easy. Other things I miss are the humor (sorry – no ‘u’; I’m American, remember!), which tends to be more self-deprecating, and the pop culture. Although a lot of shows and movies are available here, some things involving current events I don’t catch any more. I tend to be a pop culture junkie, so that’s a little hard for me.How Dutch have you become? I’m able to carry more on a bike than I ever thought possible! One major shift we’ve made is cooking at home more. I feel like there is more incentive to eat at home here – grocery staples like milk, bread and eggs are taxed at 6% versus 21% for eating out in a restaurant. Good produce is relatively cheap here. When we went to Canada this summer, we spent a fair amount of time complaining about the price of eggs, etc, relative to the Netherlands. Plus, (and I’m a little ashamed to admit this) I've gotten used to not having to tip in restaurants.What's your top tourist tip? Take your time in the Netherlands. Americans, since we have to travel so far to get to Europe, tend to take the 'If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium' approach and see a little of a lot of different countries. Don’t just go to the expected destinations like the Keukenhof or the Red Light District; venture out to other places/cities as well. Even though the Netherlands is a small country, it’s remarkable how different the regions are – Leeuwarden has a completely different culture than Maastricht, and I would never know that if I hadn’t been to both.Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about the Netherlands? The Netherlands, despite being socially quite liberal, also strikes me as being somewhat conservative. I was surprised by stores being closed on Sundays; how much more frugal people are (the word for debt contains the word guilt), and how ingrained some habits are, such as dinner at 6 pm. However, I was able to observe this because we have not lived in major cities, like The Hague or Amsterdam, where the lifestyle is different.If you had just 24 hours left in the Netherlands, what would you do? This is a difficult question to answer. I would want to go to the beach, maybe Zandvoort, and then head over to Haarlem, which has a great market, and do some shopping. Then we’d go to Amsterdam, find a nice, not too busy café terrace, get a beer and a plate of bitterballen, and watch the sun set over the canal. Of course in order to do this, the weather would need to comply.  More >

Should you rent or buy a home?

Moving to the Netherlands: should you rent or buy a home? (third party content) The Dutch housing market has had its ups and downs in the past few years, so is it better to buy or rent? How do you know what’s the right thing to do in your personal situation? ABN AMRO, specialised in expat banking, can give you tailor-made advice.Expats are not always sure how long they will stay in one place or country. This makes it important to to think carefully about buying or renting a house. Renting in the privately-owned sector is very expensive. But buying isn’t always beneficial either.Buying or renting Are you renting a house at this moment? Then this might be the right moment to buy a house. The low mortgage interest rates and house prices are tempting, while private sector rents are increasing. On the other hand, the decreasing house prices can lead to uncertainty. Will they drop even further, and is now the right time to buy? Before making a decision, it is useful to take a look at the pros and cons. Which aspects are important for you? By carefully considering...  More >

Crab for breakfast?

Crab for breakfast? 10 facts about a Dutch still life featuring food Dutch still life paintings featuring food were all the rage in the Golden Age. Willem Claeszoon Heda (1594-1680) was particularly good at them. Hanneke Sanou looks at the hidden meanings in his Breakfast with Crab.All is vanity 1 An ‘ontbijtje’, or small breakfast, is a particular genre in Dutch 17th century still life painting, as were flower pieces, banquet pieces, paintings featuring dead animals and Vanitas paintings. But all were really vanitas paintings, or paintings that reminded the rich burghers of the Netherlands that everything – including their wealth – was transient.Fishy breakfast 2 This still life is called Breakfast with Crab. Did people in the Golden Age really have crab first thing in the morning? According to food historian Gillian Riley some did indeed have fish, or pie, for breakfast (accompanied by a frothy tankard of beer) but most would have bread and cheese and/or butter, much like the Dutch do now.Daily bread 3 Bread also features in the...  More >

The Evolution of Bingo

The Evolution of Bingo (third party content) The way that we interact with each other has changed. The rise and popularity of social media profiles helps us to maintain connections with our friends and family, especially those who live in different countries and cities. But keeping in touch online can never replace spending quality time with the people you love.Bingo has been a popular pastime in the Netherlands for decades. There are still active bingo halls in use but over the past ten years the game of bingo had moved from halls to the internet. Online bingo is a booming industry all over the world, enabling users to play from the comfort of their own home but the sense of community that made the game so popular in the beginning is sometimes lost online.If you’re tired of winning bingo online and not having your friends there to share the moment with, Dutch company Bingocams has developed a solution. In order to connect you with the worldwide bingo community they have created a site that combines the game of online bingo...  More >

Dutch plan to let Big Brother watch us

Dutch minister wants to let Big Brother watch us If home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk gets his way, Big Brother will spy on us all with impunity. It's time to ditch his draft proposal, writes journalist and internet safety expert Menso Heus.Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk chose the depths of the silly season to offer up for ‘consultation’ a draft proposal which rides roughshod over the basic rights of every Dutch citizen: the new law governing intelligence and security services, WIV. If this proposal becomes law, the intelligence and security services AIVD and MIVD will be given unprecedented authorisation to access private data.With the minister’s permission and without even a hint of suspicion of any criminal behaviour on our part, the services will be monitoring and analysing our phone conversations, email exchanges, web surfing behaviour, etc. The data gathered will be kept for up to three years and can be shared with foreign secret services.The proposal has been carefully drafted: there is no mention of...  More >

That time an American woman had to convince her Dutch doctor she wasn’t a sex worker

That time an American woman had to convince her Dutch doctor she wasn’t a sex worker The Dutch have very distinctive ideas about sexual health, as Molly Quell found out.A few weeks ago, I got a letter telling me I was old. Well, not in so many words. I got a letter, from the government, saying that because I am turning 30 this year, it’s time for a pap smear.In the Netherlands, women only start getting pap smears done when they turn 30 and then every five years. In the US, you typically start getting them done when you become sexually active or when you turn 18. From then on, you have them done once a year, during your yearly check up. (Though now the recommendation has changed to every three years.)Needless to say, I have had plenty of pap smears done.I call my doctor’s office and make my appointment, indicating that I got the aforementioned letter. When I arrive several days later for said appointment, the receptionist asks me for my name and the name of my doctor. I tell her and she looks at me and says: 'He’s not in the office today.'I shrug....  More >

10 things to do: August 24-30

10 great things to do this week: August 24-30 From food markets and the new Woody Allen to Miffy's birthday celebrations and music under the trees, here's our pick of the week's best things to do.Watch Woody's new filmFor his 45th feature film Woody Allen has put together an existential thriller which takes various themes from some of his earlier films. Like the wonderful Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and the stodgy Match Point (2005), the film's central conceit is a murder and the effect it has on the perpetrator.And like many of his films, it features an intellectual stewing in frustration and self-disgust, and a Pygmalion-type romance. The Allen tropes of philosphy, morality and the randomness or meaning of existence are also well to the fore.Joaquin Phoenix plays Abe Lucas, a jaded philosophy professor and womaniser who begins an affair with science lecturer Rita (Parker Posey) and begins to flirt with student Jill (Emma Stone).Nothing raises Abe's spirits until he overhears an anguished woman say she wants...  More >

One of Limburg's best kept secrets

The Maasduinen national park is one of Limburg’s best kept secrets Ask anyone if they know of a big nature reserve in the Netherlands, and they are sure to come up with De Hoge Veluwe National Park. However, National Park Maasduinen in the northern part of Limburg is definitely worth a visit as well.Maasduinen National Park only officially opened in 1998 and is still an oasis of calm. Even in the sunniest of weather, you cab pass an entire day enjoying the peace and quiet of this area relatively undisturbed.The park covers 4,500 hectares and is flanked by several picturesque villages. If you go to the main reception area in Well, you will find a touchscreen, offering you approximately 200 different hiking routes, as well cycling, mountain-biking, horse riding and other routes – organised according to theme: through the forest, historical, art and culture, child-friendly, villages and cities, wheelchair-friendly, scenic, etc. In short, there is enough to keep you occupied for days.As befits a nature reserve, Maasduinen has a lot of wildlife...  More >

'I love trying all the cheese varieties'

‘I’m a massive fan of cheese and love trying all the different varieties’ Lola Akinsiku, 33, is Nigerian but grew up in England and the US. An accountant by trade, she came to Amsterdam as an intern and is surprised to still be here 4.5 years later. More than that, she's been inspired by the Dutch entrepreneurial spirit to start her own fledgling enterprise.How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came as an intern thinking I’d only be here for six months but then ended up with a full-time position. I was interested in living in a new city and fate gave me Amsterdam.How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? I’ve never heard the term lovepat before; that sounds so cute; I’d love to be one of those! But I’m definitely an expat. As boring as it sounds, I came independently and purely for work. If not for my job I’d likely leave.How long do you plan to stay? Never thought I’d have lasted one year let alone going on five! I tend to be quite impulsive and go where the tide takes me. Suffice it to say...  More >

Imtech washer-uppers

Available now: Imtech washer-uppers  The Imtech debacle and why nobody, including the supervisory board, saw it coming except a couple of hedge funds and a lone ABN Amro analyst. 'The whole thing is pathetic', writes Marco de Groot.Imtech has been declared bankrupt and the last CEO and CFO will without a doubt do penance, and rightly so. Still, it can’t just have been these two who pushed the company over the edge, can it?For years brokers and investors were mesmerised by Imtech’s unique ability to acquire and grow at a rate of knots, especially in Germany and the Scandinavian countries. The only place they didn’t do quite so well was in the domestic market of the Netherlands, also the home of the dispersed company’s administrative mission control.InterviewI remember the moment I stopped believing in Imtech. It was in 2012, some €1.5bn in market value ago. In an interview, CEO René van der Bruggen claimed his company had not suffered any damage from the crisis and that he saw no reason...  More >

Youp drives a Jeep

Youp drives a Jeep on holiday in Scotland Comedian Youp van 't Hek is on holiday in Scotland and finds his left-hand drive is not as easy to handle as he thought.Driving a car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side is difficult enough so why not make life easier and go for an automatic. It’ll save you from having to change gear with your left hand. So said a good friend who likes to dole out good advice. This time he was meddling with my trip to the Highlands of Scotland.I wanted to take my own antique mid-life motor but the boat to Newcastle was full. My wife agreed with my friend. We should hire an automatic. I said we’d see when we got to Glasgow. In the meantime I hired a Mini via internet. I liked the idea of bumping through the beautiful Scottish landscape in a Mini. And all that stuff about changing gear would sort itself out. I can shoot a football with my left and right leg, I write with my left hand and I throw with my left. I am ambidextrous. No problem.The automatic car turned into a bit of a...  More >