A Dictionary of Dutchness

A Dictionary of Dutchness

The Dutch language can puzzle at the best of times but throw in an acronym or abbreviation and you're suddenly faced with a riddle, wrapped in a mystery and deep-fried in breadcrumbs. What hope have we uninitiated English speakers got if we can't tell the difference between a BOB and a TSB? Enter A Dictionary of Dutchness. All those quirky Dutchisms that have caught us off guard, drawn blank faces and LOL'd (laughed at loud) at our expense, have been meticulously rounded up by the editors at DutchNews.nl and compiled into a indispensable 400-word paperback that's as entertaining as it is digestible. The Dutch language demystified, brilliant. It's not just newcomers to the Netherlands who'll find a friend in this unofficial survival guide. What Dutch person wouldn't care to know what the FNV (trade union federation) stood for or if the CBP is doing what they're paid to do (protect data)? Some acronyms make perfect sense. Why struggle through Eerste Hulp Bij OngelukkenŽ and risk passing out - when EHBO (first-aid kit) just trips off the tongue? Then there's BOB. Poor BOB. He's that reliable friend who sticks to one beer so he can drive everyone home after a night out. And BTW, wouldn't it be nice to know how big your Hollandse Nieuwe were this year? (That's the mid-May catch of young herring). That just leaves us with GVB, a word that suffers from a split personality, standing for both a golf proficiency certificate and the municipal transport authorities. The list goes on and on, but you'll easily find yourself going along with it. I certainly did! A Dictionary of Dutchness is a great addition to anybody's bookshelf. Short and sweet, IYKWIM (if you know what I mean). Out of print Iamsterdam.com  More >



A Wanderlust For Life

A Wanderlust For Life

An American expat blogging about life in Amsterdam while traveling around the country and throughout Europe. More >


24 Oranges

24 Oranges

Dutch things pressed for your pleasure: oddball Dutch news and photographs. More >







I love Noord

I love Noord

North Amsterdam is described as the Brooklyn of the Dutch capital. If you want to know why, read this blog. More >


Amsterdamming

Amsterdamming

Three years in Amsterdam and counting! Daily journeys through the streets of this cosy and beautiful city. More >



Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

I try to create a relationship with this mysterious city. I love it and can’t get enough of it. More >


Dutch Wannabe

Dutch Wannabe

Lesia is the writer behind Dutch Wannabe, a travel blog focusing on culture-oriented travel in The Netherlands and bey More >


Expat Women: Confessions

Expatriating to a new country is exciting, but it can also be daunting. If you are about to embark on your first trip as a 'trailing spouse', then you could probably do with some reassurance from someone who knows the ropes. In case you don't meet that 'someone' immediately, a copy of Expat Women: Confessions, will make an excellent first companion. Expat Women: Confessions, 50 Answers to your Real-Life Questions about Living Abroad, is the brainchild of Andrea Martins & Victoria Hepworth who are also the founders of the website of the same name. Confessions is presented in a question and answer format and focuses on the most common problems faced by expat women every day. Issues like dealing with loneliness and coping with the loss of professional identity, as well as the more serious problems of alcoholism, domestic violence and infidelity are all dealt with sensitively. Both authors are seasoned expats in their own right, as well as expat wives with children, and with the benefit of their combined experience, each question is answered constructively, providing practical advice and information along the way. A comprehensive Resources section includes an invaluable list of books and websites for the rookie, or veteran expat alike. There isn't much that Andrea Martins & Victoria Hepworth don't know about relocating worldwide and Expat Women: Confessions is their latest gift to the expat sisterhood. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Stuff Dutch People Like takes on food and mothers

The Stuff Dutch People Like empire has done some considerable expansion in 2016 with a look earlier this year at language and now a plunge into food and the world of motherhood. Author Colleen Geske, a Canadian by birth, has now turned her attention to celebrating Dutch parenting and asks herself 'why do Dutch mums have it all?'. It did not start out that way. 'Home births were not urban legends, as I had hoped, but a frightening reality,' she writes in the introduction. 'Could I actually give birth, let alone raise a family, in this country far away from the comforts and familiarities of home?' Colleen is now the proud mother of two children, both born in the Netherlands and both growing up into little Amsterdammers. The book Stuff Dutch Moms Like is based partly on her experiences, partly on heaps of facts and useful information, and partly on the experiences of others mothers, both Dutch and foreign. Dutch parenting, she states, has often been described as laid-back, relaxed and quite permissive. Not that she would argue with these observations, you understand, but that 'you could make the wrong assumption that this parenting style is without substance or reason'. Helicopter mums have yet to arrive in the Netherlands and freedom, independence and letting children be children are paramount. The style is light and informative - like chatting to a friend - and Colleen's enthusiasm so persuasive you might end up wishing you were having a baby yourself, just to test it all out. Buy this book   Stuff Dutch People Eat The fourth book in the Stuff Dutch People Like stable is a homage to the Dutch snackbar and dinner table. Complete with recipes for pea soup, grandmother's apple pie and even stroopwaffels, Stuff Dutch People Eat is a lavishly illustrated celebration of Dutch food. And yes, she does throw in recipes for roti and nasi goreng for good measure. Liberally sprinkled with humour and exclamation marks, Colleen is even positive about boerenkool and herring - which must mean she is a fully integrated Dutch cook. This is a great gift for a new arrival, a longer term resident or someone who has left the Netherlands and is still nostalgic for a bitterballen or olliebollen at New Year. Now they can make them themselves. Buy this book  More >


Cloudless Amsterdam – City in Motion

An unexpected and beautiful view of a changing city From the wonderfully undulating Zeedijk and the monumental Westertoren to the copper-green Nemo in the Eastern Docks and the Water District of IJburg: Amsterdam has a wealth of striking places with impressive nuildings, fascinating streets and delightful squares. Photographer Peter Elenbaas took around seven thousand aerial photographs - most in the summer of 2012, but some of them decades ago - and chose his favourites for Cloudless Amsterdam: A City in Motion. Together they provide an unexpected view of the changing city. Journalist Lambiek Berends wrote a brief history to accompany them. Buy this book  More >


Whipped Cream Architecture

It might sound like an odd title, but once you read the first few paragraphs it makes perfect sense. Whipped cream is a book of photography with a few pages of information about the origins of the white painted stone 'wigs' that grace the gables of the grachtenpanden (canal houses) in Amsterdam. If the subject matter floats your boat and you are curious about, or interested in the history of Holland_Ž“s distinct architectural style then this is likely to appeal. Whipped cream is a nicely presented glossy picture book without being ostentatious, and a perfectly respectable addition to any Dutch coffee table collection. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


A Sample of Gouda

A Sample of Gouda - Photographs and Hidden Narratives of Gouda is the second book about this Dutch city by expats Persephone Abbott and Vinita Salomé. Their first book, published in 2012, The Bee’s Tour of Gouda, Buzzing through Vinita’s Lens, is a walking tour guide, complete with photographic highlights for the walker to identify along the route. The interest this guidebook attracted from the expat community and international media motivated Abbott and Salomé to continue their artistic collaboration. A Sample of Gouda is filled with beautiful photographs of historical relics located around the city, yet often missed by people living in or visiting Gouda. Each photograph is accompanied by a short story based on individuals like Davud from Bosnia, Nancy from New Jersey and Raj from Mumbai – people who relocated to Gouda from different countries and cultures. These concocted tales are loosely associated to the image apparent in the photograph on the facing page. A guide written from the visitor’s seat In terms of a city or culture guide, A Sample of Gouda- Photographs and Hidden Narratives of Gouda offers something new to Gouda and the increasing number of books about everything and anything ‘Dutch’. The book does not showcase the best of what the city, or Dutch culture, has to offer. Instead it offers readers 31 fictitious perspectives of trying to fit in to Gouda and the local culture as a foreigner. The struggles, apparent in the short stories, are given counterbalance by the photographic evidence of an old culture shaped by religion, traditions, and history. A Sample of Gouda- Photographs and Hidden Narratives of Gouda is a creative and interesting book by two women with an obvious love of Gouda and an understanding of the challenges many expats face with integration into this city. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old

Hendrik Groen is an 83-year-old resident of an aged care home in Amsterdam. He begins a diary recording the daily tribulations of life in an institution surrounded by his peers and confronted by the health challenges that come with being an octogenarian. He starts the diary with the telling line, 'Another year, and I still don’t like old people.' The residents of The House of the Setting Sun are a mixed bag of stereotyped elderly people, many of whom spend their days waiting for mealtimes, seeking opportunities to moan about their constipation, or discussing family members who appear to have forgotten them. Not wanting to be part of this group, Hendrik and a small coterie of similarly rebelling residents form the Old-But-Not-Dead Club with the goal '…to increase the enjoyment of advanced age by arranging outings’, and the clearly stated rule, 'No whining allowed.' Soon, the club comes to the attention of management staff and other residents who are clearly irked by the fact that the club members are enjoying life and not behaving as institutionalised old people are expected to. The club members include Evert (rude, sarcastic, smoking, drinking diabetic who refuses to change his ways even as his extremities turn black and require amputation), Eefje (the woman Hendrik wishes he’d met half a century earlier), Grietje (who believes she has Alzheimer’s disease), Edward (a stroke survivor with residue speech difficulties), and Hendrik (exhibiting a multitude of age-related wear and tear issues that have slowed him down and added a leak to his bladder). Getting old: fact over fiction? This funny and touching novel questions how we see the elderly, especially old people in care facilities. The author offers the notion that relocating to an aged care home does not have to mean surrendering all activities people have previously enjoyed, and replacing these pleasurable engagements with a contentment to stare at the walls and play bingo on a Monday evening while counting down your remaining days. Although Dutch readers may get more pleasure from this book due to insider knowledge of the local politics and age care policies, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old does have universal appeal and the novel has been taking the world by storm. Incorporating issues of euthanasia, advanced care directives, funding for aged care, family support availability and the broader question of what to do with older people who lose their independence – gives the book international relevance. In addition, these issues are covered with humour from the older person’s perspective, a voice not usually heard but one that should be central to the discussion. Who is the real Hendrik Groen? Originally published in Dutch in 2014, the author of this book remained a mystery until recently, leaving readers with the question of whether the diary was indeed the work of Hendrik Groen, and hence a biography rather than a novel, although the nod to Adrian Mole should have been the giveaway. In April 2016, NRC Handelsblad revealed Peter de Smet, a 61-year-old librarian with no previous published written work, as the book’s author.  The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old was translated by Hester Velmans. It is published by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Books. A great read with characters who will remain in your thoughts long after you have finished reading. Not belly-aching funny, yet very enjoyable. Ana McGinley Buy this book  More >


Dealing with the Dutch

If you'Ž“re moving to the Netherlands then be warned, Lowlanders can be a bit blunt. In fact it'Ž“s fair to say that in business, as in daily life, brutal honesty and constructive criticism are dished out liberally as par for the course - which can be a bit of a shock to the system if you haven't lived or worked alongside them before. The Dutch are a self-confident, pragmatic, and exceedingly efficient race and these qualities combined with their shrewd nose for business can sometimes make for an off-putting combination. In Dealing with the Dutch, author Jacob Vossestein has created a manual for anyone who wants or needs to understand the general mentality, in order to forge good professional relationships and successfully conduct business with the Dutch. As a human geographer and social anthropologist with nearly 30 years experience as a cross-cultural trainer, Vossestein knows more than most about the Dutch psyche and how to communicate effectively with his fellow countrymen. But surprisingly for a native, Vossestein also shows a finely-tuned awareness for the less appealing Dutch characteristics, and this is what makes his book so valuable. Every quirk, trait and habit is scrutinised and what you get is a fully comprehensive guide to just about every strand of the nation'Ž“s collective personality, including their beliefs and value system. Despite the dull and dreary picture on the book'Ž“s cover, it is anything but, and contains plenty of humorous observations and comments by other foreigners that will make this useful for anyone moving to Holland. Indeed the tone of the author himself, is refreshingly self-deprecating which makes you want to read on and discover more about this tall and distinctive race of northern Europeans who are often understood by misleading stereotypes and little more. Vossestein has included so much information about the entire Dutch nation its geography and provinces, including the regional nuances of people living in different parts of the country, that Dealing with the Dutch succeeds in being entertaining, enlightening and credible, all at the same time. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Living With the Dutch: An American Family in the Hague

Before going to The Hague, Sharpe and her American family actually planned to move to Paris, but her husband Peter was offered a position in the Netherlands. They find typical expatriate problems on their path, learn a lot about how to tackle them and in the mean time discover a completely new country. Buy this book Review this book. Contact books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Ready, Steady, Go Dutch

The Netherlands sells itself as a country of tulips, windmills, cheese and clogs, but that is not how international workers see it. In Ready, Steady, Go Dutch, a new book by DutchNews.nl and volunteer organisation ACCESS showed clogs don'Ž“t merit a mention. Nor do tulips and windmills. But mention bikes, doctors and the lack of sunshine and you will find international workers have plenty to say. Divided into 10 short chapters and with a list of extra information resources, Ready, Steady, Go Dutch takes the reader through the ups and downs of relocating to the Netherlands, learning the language, finding a job and a home, and making a new life. Doctors, shops, the weather and of course cycling are all dealt with in bite-sized quotes from people who have already made the move. Some of the comments are unexpected, some are amusing or poignant and some highlight the differences in expectations and experiences between different nationalities. Together they form a snapshot of the expat experience in the Netherlands which everyone can learn from. In particular, the relaxed atmosphere in the Netherlands, especially at work, is a big plus for international workers. The work environment is relaxed. I saw people cancelling meetings just because it was sunny that day, said one Turkish expat. Ž•I love the fact that where I work there is less emphasis on hierarchy and more on consensus and delivery,Ž“ said a Russian national who has lived in the Netherlands for nearly nine years. And an American expat was quite certain about the impact of working in the Netherlands on her work-life balance. Ž•I will never go back to a country where I only get one week's holiday a year, she said. Dutch houses also come in for a lot of comment. Ž•Having a washing machine in the bathroom was really strange as was the lack of a bath, wrote one British woman who moved in with her Dutch boyfriend. The steepness of Dutch stairs and big windows in many older properties came in for a lot of comment as well. One expat even warned people to be aware of moving too close to a tram line because of the excruciating noise made by the machines which clean the tracks early in the morning. The alternative to public transport is, of course, cycling, which all expats seem to adopt enthusiastically. 'I love how relaxed the Dutch are on their bikes. You see men in suits and women in fancy dresses,' said a Bulgarian office worker. The 140-page book has been put together by DutchNews.nl and ACCESS to help newcomers benefit from the practical experiences of people who've already gone Dutch. A large part of the profit will go to ACCESS to help the volunteer organisation continue providing information and advice to expats. Buy this book  More >


Must Eat Amsterdam

Calling itself 'an eclectic selection of culinary locations', Must Eat Amsterdam is not intended to be a comprehensive restaurant guide to Amsterdam, but rather a highlights tour, showcasing the best the city has to offer. Author Luc Hoornaert has an interesting background. He’s the owner of SWAFFOU (Sexy Winemakers Association Fighting For Overall Understanding), a website devoted to wine education as well as Swaffood, which sells high end Japanese ingredients. He’s also the author of the Must Eat series of books, which cover New York City, London and the Netherlands and now have a specific title for Amsterdam. The photos are by Kris Vlegels and they are mouth watering. He captures from brilliant shots of the chefs and owners of the various restaurants as well, along with some interior photos of some of the locations. It’s a stylish little book with a brief introduction and photo (along with contact details) of each restaurant included. It then highlights one dish from the menu along with a photo and offers a description of the restaurant, the chef, the menu and the ambiance as well as some quirky facts about the place. The book itself is organised by location, breaking down Amsterdam into its geographic components (Centre, West, East, South and North.) The bulk of the selection are unsurprisingly located in the Centre with South also having a good showing. Usefully, each location also includes their average price, ranging from under €12.50 to over €40 for a main course and a drink. The locations range from food stalls to high end restaurants and nearly everything in between. Cheese shop Abraham Kef makes the list as does &Samhoud Places. Cuisine varies from croquettes to seafood and from Surinamese to Spanish. There is no ranking system for any of the restaurants included in the book and each review is written with such gusto, that it is hard to imagine any as falling short. Unfortunately, the author gives us no criteria for any any restaurant was included in (or, for that matter, left off) the list. Overall, it’s a pleasant little book that leaves the reader hunger and with a list of must try places in Amsterdam. It would be a good edition for the bookshelf of any foodie living in the country, as well as a reasonably good list for any tourist.  More >