Friday 26 February 2021

Inburgering with DutchNews.nl: Catch up during the curfew with 19 lessons

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Want to hide away and forget all about coronavirus? Or are you in need of something else to do during the curfew? Why not brush up on your Dutch culture instead, with DutchNews.nl’s very own inburgering course. Here’s a round up of the lessons so far.

Lesson 1: An introduction to Dutch history
Being the well organised folk that they are, the Dutch have drawn up a list of 50 key events and periods which shaped the country and made the Netherlands what it is today. This mighty list is known as the Canon of Dutch history and forms the basis of history teaching at primary schools. We can’t possibly remember them all, so here’s the 10 we think might just be the most significant.

Lesson 2: 10 delicacies to order from snack bars
The Dutch call it ‘een vette bek halen’ – literally ‘to get yourself a greasy gob’ or pigging out on fried food. And now restaurants are closed thanks to coronavirus, takeaway rules supreme. So here are some of the most popular Dutch snack bar treats. Please note, the Dutch often use the diminutive form for their snacks – a kroketje, a sateetje, a patatje, in an attempt to minimise calorific value.

Lesson 3: Dutch tribes
If you are Dutch yourself, or have been here for some time, you know that the typical Dutch person does not exist. Here are 12 of the numerous tribes you may spot in the wild.

Lesson 4: What you need to know about Van Gogh
This list of facts about Van Gogh is easy to memorise. Drop them into the conversation and become an instant and valued expert!

Photo: de40plusvrouw via Pixabay

Lesson 5: Biscuity things to have with coffee
Koekje erbij? The Dutch will ask you this as they wave the biscuit tin under your nose. Here’s what a variety of baked goods which may accompany a cup of tea or coffee in the Netherlands.

Lesson 6: Clogs
Nothing says ‘the Netherlands’ or rather ‘Holland’ more clunkily than clogs, even if no one apart from the odd farmer wears them any more. But this iconic form of Dutch footwear is both enduring and endearing, so here’s what you need to know.

Lesson 7: Essential facts about tulips
Tulips are about to start blooming everywhere – even though trips to the bulb fields may well be banned again this year. Nevertheless, you can still nip out to get yourself a bunch to brighten up your day. Here are some facts and figures about the Netherlands’ iconic flower – which actually originated around the Mediterranean.

Lesson 8: Eight steps to understanding gezelligheid
At one point you could hardly move for books and articles singing the praises of hygge – the Danish art of getting snug and cosy at home. We think the Dutch version – gezelligheid – although a similar nightmare to pronounce, has been unfairly overlooked. Impossible to translate it’s a blend of simple pleasures: cosiness, togetherness, conviviality, jolliness, contentedness.

Even a cactus can be gezellig. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Lesson 9: The tallest things in the Netherlands
Coming to the Netherlands can make the average person feel vertically challenged. Yet, the Netherlands is not a country of soaring skyscrapers and mountain peaks. Our list shows the good old Dutch trait of moderation is also apparent in architecture and nature.

Lesson 10: 11 Dutch local delicacies
There are lots of places in the Netherlands that have their own culinary speciality. And so as not to allow any misunderstanding as to their provenance, they tacked the name to the product. Here’s 11 local delicacies from all over the country in no particular order of preference.

Lesson 11: Key facts about the girl with the pearl
Girl with a Pearl Earring Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665) has been voted ‘the most beautiful Dutch painting’ and described as ‘timeless, like Mona Lisa’. She’s also a massive money-spinner and features on everything from bikes to baggage.

Lesson 11: The herring
The new herring season starts in June and every year the fish is described by experts as being ‘lekker vet’ (nicely fat) and ‘of good quality’. Here are some key facts about this Dutch delicacy.

Queuing up to buy herring?

Lesson 12: Broodjes
The classic Dutch broodje is a soft, white stick-to-the teeth bun, filled with anything that can be tucked more or less securely between the two halves, only one of which is usually smothered in margarine pretending to be butter. A broodje, possibly accompanied by a glass of milk, is the traditional lunch fare in the Netherlands, as many a foreign business person has found out to their dismay.

Lesson 13: 11 old things
Being built on a swamp, where wood was the building material of choice, not much remains of the prehistoric Netherlands. Even the Romans avoided much of the country because of the risk of wet feet. But here is a list of 11 really old Dutch things.

Lesson 14: Windmills
Here are some facts and figures about the Netherlands’ most enduring industrial monuments.

Lesson 15: Protected foodstuffs
You thought the Netherlands was all mashed potato dishes, cheese and herring when it comes to traditional food? But there are a fair few Dutch items on the EU’s official lists – even if rather a lot are cheese.

Lesson 16: Cheese
There is more to Dutch cheese than the plastic versions of Gouda and Edam you tend to find in foreign supermarkets. Here are some of our favourites. Dutch cheese, by the way, is either jong (young, 4 weeks), jong-belegen (young-mature 8-10 weeks), belegen (mature, 16-18 weeks), extra belegen (extra mature, 7-8 months), oud (old, 10-12 months) or overjarig (very old, more than 18 months).

Different ages of cheese. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Lesson 17: ‘Games’ involving animals
The Spanish chase bulls in the streets, with or without their horns on fire, the Brits used to stuff ferrets down their trousers and the Belgians swallow live fish, all in the name of tradition. So what do the Dutch do to animals for a bit of ‘harmless’ fun? Here’s a few examples, past and present.

Lesson 18: Literary gems
Here’s a list of nine great Dutch reads in translation to expand your literary horizons during the long winter.

Lesson 19: Seven Dutch artists
Dutch artists were pioneers of artistic techniques and evolving aesthetics long before Dutch designers took centre stage in the 20th century. Here is our list of seven key artists who had a major impact on the art world.

Coming soon
Supermarkets, Unesco heritage sights, normen en waarden and films. If you have any suggestions of subjects you would like us to cover, email editor@dutchnews.nl.

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