What are the unwritten rules of Dutch society?
A member of the Amsterdam Shallow Man Facebook group asked the following question.
There were so many helpful responses that I’ve decided to pick the five most useful answers.
The things I do for my readers!
1. Don’t use any spices while cooking
Long before Al Pacino’s character in Scarface uttered the fateful words, “don’t get high on your own supply”, the Dutch were well ahead with this. They invaded half the world for their spices but made sure that they weren’t used in their own ‘cuisine’.
The other day I was asking a caterer in our canteen why if I was asking for “spicy” it never was spicy. His literal reply was that Dutch wouldn’t eat it if it was too hot or spicy”
Salt and pepper are also spices and more than enough. Doe normaal!
2. Doe maar gewoon (and selfish)
From a Shallowman group member.
“Everyone is paying for themself when meeting in a cafe or bar when the bill is coming is normal gesplit betalen. Never dress up when going to a party, verjaardag or any other occasion. In your country, you will dress up, but in the Netherlands just do normal- jeans, sneakers or laarzen (boots) and a blouse/t-shirt.
Don’t bring to much booze, food or presents to a Dutch party, verjaardag or any other occasion, after I brought wine, a box of chocolates and flowers on a birthday I was seen as a weirdo. In general, don’t overdo in anything…the more simple the better.
And lunch break means bread with something, not a hot meal cooked and taken from home or any other hot meal. Hot meals are only eaten between 17-19. Lunch=bread”.
3. Dress down
Don’t queue. Wear plain and cheap clothes. If you can afford more expensive clothes, make sure they still look plain and shabby. No dentist or hairdresser needed. Wear mini skirts on a bike so everyone can see your (Hema) underwear. Bread with cheese for lunch is enough, veggies are for snobs. Don’t wear makeup.
4. Eat before you go to parties or weddings
Forget crash diets. The best way to lose weight in the Netherlands is to go to a series of parties and weddings over a two or three month period. The kilos will drop off you, guaranteed!
5. Politeness is a waste of time
The Dutch are very busy people and don’t have time for useless social niceties. It’s survival of the fittest when it comes to boarding or disembarking public transport. You don’t say sorry to strangers if you bump into them, need to get by etc. ‘Ik heb haast!’. Don’t be shocked by Dutch directness, but never, ever be direct back, they really can’t handle it.
Here’s a bonus unwritten rule that all expats/internationals should definitely be aware of. Never, ever, criticise any aspect of life in the Netherlands. Keep your opinions to yourself unless they are sickly sweet and super positive. If not, hou je kop en rot op naar je eigen kutland!
No sellers of spices were hurt during the writing of this post.
A big thank you to the members of my Facebook group.