Birthday Cake or Birthday Pie?

Posted on 25. May, 2016 by in Culture

In Limburg, pie is king! When there is something to celebrate, pie is the one who is always present. Correction: vlaai is always present!

Vlaai has definitely been something that has grown on me. I used to never think of pie; now, I crave it. Perhaps it is the slagroom-art pies have or the fact that everytime it is someone’s birthday, I am offered a slice. Regardless of the reason: vlaai is koning!

Here are a few interesting facts about Limburgse vlaai:

1. Birthday pie

In the southern-most region of the lowlands, people don’t have birthday cakes with candles and sweet inscriptions made out of frosting. Here, birthdays are celebrated with rijstevlaai or abrikozenvlaai or whatever flavor you might like. Whenever you are invited to celebrate a birthday, you are offered vlaai and something to drink. People happily eat their vlaai, leave an evenlope with money, and then head on home.

If you work, your colleagues will require you to take vlaai for everyone. Yes…you take your own birthday pie to work. In Limburg, where I live, people are quite demanding in regards to the quality of vlaai. It must be from a bakkerij (never from the grocery store) and, of course, everyone has very strong opinions about which one is really the best.

2. Met of zonder slagroom?

When you order a slice of this celebratory pastry, waiters usually ask met of zonder slagroom? If you say met a delicious dollop of whipped cream will accompany your vlaai.

3. Varieties

Each bakkerij in the Netherlands has its own variety of pie. You can find appelvlaai (apple pie), abrikozenvlaai (apricot pie), rijstevlaai (rice pudding pie), kersennvlaai (cherry pie), aardbeienvlaai (strawberry pie), appelkruimelvlaai (apple crumb pie), appelnotenvlaai (apple and nuts pie), roomvlaai (cream pie), etc. All these and more (I am sure I missed a lot) have their own variations whether it is the way the fruit is displayed or if it has slagroom or kruimelen.

My favorite is abrikozenvlaai zonder slaagroom en zonder kruimelen. Which vlaai is your favorite?

The following video gives a brief history of the limburgse vlaai

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And if you want to try a recipe yourself…

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3 Things You Have To Know About Broodjeaapverhalen!

Posted on 23. May, 2016 by in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

You may have heard of them – Broodjeaapverhalen (Bread with monkey stories)! But maybe you haven’t! What is a broodjeaapverhaal? And why this weird name? What about a famous story?

1. What is a broodjeaapverhaal?

Broodje aap! What is this weird combination?

Broodje aap! But what does it mean?

 Broodje means a roll, or a bread, with something on it. This is the word that comes right after. So, a broodje kaas, like in the picture above, is a slice of bread with cheese. So a broodje aap does not look like in the picture above, but more something like this:

An actual broodje aap. (Image by TeunSpaans at under license CC BY SA 3.0)

But what is a broodjeaapverhaal? It is a verzonnen (made up) story that is passed on as waar gebeurd (truly happened). Often, it is unclear who or what the bron (source) is of these stories, and they are more often than not sensationeel (sensational) and bizar (bizarre). They play on people’s angsten (fears) and vooroordelen (prejudices).

2. Broodjeaap. Where does this name come from?

The boekje (little book) Broodje Aap by Ethel Portnoy from 1978.

The name broodje aap, as we have seen above, does not make a lot of sense by itself. Where does it come from? In 1978, Ethel Portnoy published a boekje (little book) that bundled stories that can be characterized as stadslegendes (urban legends). She titled the book after one broodjeaapverhaal which claimed that certain restaurants serve broodjes apenvlees (breads with monkey meat)!

3. What is an example of a broodjeaapverhaal?

So what kind of stories do their rounds? In the video above, Peter Burger, who wrote his PhD on the topic, explains: Een van de gekste broodjeaapverhalen die op het ogenblik nog lopen is het verhaal dat inbrekers geheime tekentjes naast de deur zetten. Wat ik fascinerend vind is dat politieagenten, of vooral politieagenten, deze tekens verspreiden. (One of the craziest bread with monkey stories that are still running at the moment is the story that burglars put secret marks next to the door. What I find fascinating is that police officers, or especially policer officers spread these marks.)

Obviously, broodjeaapverhalen can be quite grappig (funny)! But they can also be gevaarlijk (dangerous), because what if they are trusted, even though they are not true at all? This can lead to quite some verwarring (confusion)!

But here on this blog, we are safe! If you have a broodjeaapverhaal that you want to share, comment below, or send us one via Facebook by clicking on the button below, and maybe we will post it on our Facebook page!

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Can You Say This Correctly? – 3: Tony’s Chocolonely Melk Passievrucht Yoghurt – C: [s] or [k]?

Posted on 20. May, 2016 by in Culture, Dutch Grammar, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary, food, practice

One of the hardest things about learning Dutch is pronunciation. Whether it is about the ui-klank (the “ui” sound), the G-klank (the “G” sound) or other sounds you might have a hard time with. This series, called “Can You Say This Correctly?”, is about providing a speech example that I recorded. I will give the Dutch text, a translation, and I will add one comment or more for parts that you have to heed for pronunciation. If there are any sounds that you would like to see a post about, let me know in the comments!


Part 1: Arla Biologische Volle Melk – how to pronounce long and short vowels

Part 2: Innocent Goedgemutste Smoothie – How to pronounce ei, ij, ie, -je, -pje, -tje

The inside of the wikkel, with the special shape of the chocolate.

The inside of the wikkel (wrapper), with the special shape of the chocolate. This is the text you read below!

Tony Chocolonely 1

The package of Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate in the flavor melk, passievrucht, yoghurt (milk, passion fruit, yogurt)


The recording of the Dutch text:


Deel onze chocolade en deel dit verhaal.

Op dit moment werken er slaven op de cacao-plantages in West-Afrika. Veel van hen zijn kinderen. Dit is niet normaal.

Onze visie is 100 procent (%) slaafvrije chocolade. Niet alleen ònze chocolade. Maar àlle chocolade wereldwijd.

Met waanzinnig lekkere chocolade geven we het voorbeeld en laten we zien dat chocolade maken anders kan: in smaak, verpakking en de manier waarop we met de cacaoboeren omgaan: 100% slaafvrij, eerlijk en transparant.

In ons eentje maken we onze chocolade slaafvrij, maar samen maken we alle chocolade 100% slaafvrij. Dus we vragen jou met ons mee te doen.

Want hoe meer mensen kiezen voor slaafvrije chocolade en ons verhaal delen, hoe eerder 100% slaafvrije chocolade normaal wordt. Uiteindelijk bepaal jij. Doe je mee? Deel onze chocolade en deel dit verhaal.

Crazy about chocolate, serious about people.


Share our chocolate and share this story.

At the moment, slaves are working on cocoa plantations in West Africa. Many of them are children. This is not normal.

With insanely delicious chocolate we give the example and show that making chocolate can be done differently: in taste, packaging, and the way in which we treat cocoa farmers: 100% slave-free, fair and transparent.

On our own, we make our chocolate slave-free, but together we make our chocolate 100% slave-free. So we ask you to join in with us.

Because the more people choose slave-free chocolate and share our story, the sooner 100% slave-free chocolate becomes normal. In the end, you decide. Do you join us? Share our chocolate and share this story.

Crazy about chocolate, serious about people.


Before we get into the grammatical part of this post, I will explain a little about Tony’s Chocolonely. As you might have guessed from the text above, they are not your usual chocolate manufacturer. They release different flavors every so often, and have very crazy, but awesome flavors, such as the one of this post: melk, passievrucht, yoghurt (milk, passion fruit, yogurt). And I think it tastes awesome. The shape of their bars is different, too. They found it weird that a chocolate bar is divided in equal squares, even though chocolate production is not fair at all.

If that wasn’t already enough, the chocolate manufacturer started 10 years ago with the goal of 100% slaafvrije chocolade. However, the amount of (child) slavery has actually increased since then, and the impact of Tony’s is, according to themselves, een druppel op een hete plaat (a drop on a hot plate).

How did they get to this weird name? Tony is the anglicization of Teun, the name of the founder of the brand, who even wanted to get himself sued once for eating chocolate produced with slavery, calling himself a chocoladecrimineel (chocolate criminal). The “Chocolonely” is a samentrekking (contraction) of “chocolate” and “lonely”, and was chosen because Teun felt like he was the only one in the chocolate industry that is fighting for 100% slave-free chocolate.

If you want to know more about what the company does, check out their website, or check out the documentary they made about their cause! Here is a trailer:

Anyway, on to the comments!


chocolade; cacao

The main thing I want to focus on here is the pronunciation of the c in the words chocolade and cacao. As in English, the c is pronounced as a [k]. Why?

The letter “c” is always pronounced as a [k] if it comes before an aor u.

De letter c spreken we voor een i of een e altijd uit als een [s], voor een a, een o of een u als een [k] (uitzonderingen zijn scepter en sceptisch).


In the case of the word procent, it is the other way around. You can see why: there is an after the in procent! The rule here is:

The letter is always pronounced as a [c] if it comes before an or an e.

Exceptions to this are scepter (sceptre) and sceptisch (skeptical) (pronounced as [k] here!). But “skeptical” also has a weird spelling in English…


ònze, àlle

One mistake I have found in their text is in how the so-called klemtoonteken (stress mark) or nadrukteken (emphasis mark) is used. In Dutch, this is supposed to always be an accent aigu (´), e.g. er zijn nóg meer dingen te beleven! (There are even more things to experience!). I have also found this mistake on their website.

What the company has done here is use the accent grave (`) as a klemtoonteken. And that is incorrect. It is used in Dutch sometimes to clarify how to pronounce a word, for example appèl (appeal, call), compared to appel (apple). Listen here for the difference:

Another small mistake, which is more a stylistic choice, but purely technically incorrect, is their sentence structure. For example, a sentence that starts with maar (but), is incorrect in the Netherlands, as it should follow right after a comma to introduce a contradiction to the previous. But that is not a big deal! (Here you go! 😉 )



Slaafvrije is not an actual Dutch word, but was created by Tony’s crew back in the days. It is a samenstelling (compound) of the words slaaf (slave) and vrij (free). Slaafvrij is easier to work with than zonder slavernij geproduceerd (produced without slavery).

Such a new word is called a neologisme (neologism).

On a final note, just before I go, I have a little extra for you: can you translate their slogan Crazy about chocolate, serious about people to Dutch? Give your translation below in the comments, or let us know in a Facebook message!

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Of course, you can also reach us for any other question, comment or remark you might have.