The surprising Dutch sweetener for savory warm dishes

Posted on 04. Sep, 2015 by in Culture

When you think about the Netherlands and sweet, you may come up with things like Stroopwafels, Hagelslag or Vla (a post on that one soon!).

I am talking about a sweet treat that is eaten with warm dinner. It is more of a side. Especially with potatoes. Yes, those yellow roots we eat. In the Netherlands, you eat them with appelmoes (apple sauce). You can also eat it with fries, on pancakes… Whatever you prefer! But the Dutch like it much :)

Now, of course you know apple sauce. But the way it is eaten in the Netherlands, appears to be quite unusual.

Zuurvlees and patat with a side of mayonnaise and appelmoes (image by Don Pedro de Carrion de los Condes ! at Flickr.com)

My grandmother’s favorite is peeled, cooked potatoes with appelmoes. I like it myself a lot too – the fresh, cool taste of it with the hot potatoes is a great combination!

Also, many different varieties of appelmoes exist in the Netherlands. There is pure appelmoes, which is without any added sugar, just as sweet as the apples itself. Then there is appelmoes Light, which is the sauce with less sugar, and sometimes added apple juice. Another version is appelcompote, which is basically appelmoes that is not sieved too fine, and contains pieces of apple. Also, there is Oma’s appelmoes (grandma’s apple sauce), which is apple sauce with some added kaneel (cinnamon), which is especially nice in the winter months. As you can see, the different kinds of appelmoes you can get are endless.

The way appelmoes is made is simply peeled apples, which are cooked, sugared, and mashed. And then sieved. Sometimes they are sieved multiple times to make the appelmoes finer.

 

Do you like apple sauce? Is it eaten in your country?

What do you eat it with? Let me know!

 

 

For Dutch Kids…It’s Back to School!

Posted on 02. Sep, 2015 by in Culture, News

Schools and education systems vary in every country. The type of schools, the programs covered, the liberties and responsibilities of the students and parents are just some of the ways in which schools in every country vary. As a person who has been to schools in two different countries, I am intrigued with the manner in which countries deal with their education systems.

So what do the Dutch students and their parents need?

I am currently teaching afterschool at elementary schools or basisscholen in the Maastricht area allowing me the opportunity to observe and work within Dutch schools. I would like to compile a list of what I have found interesting.

  • Dutch students are encouraged to speak freely

This is probably one of the first comments I heard about school children in the Netherlands. Many people have commented on the freedom in speech allowed and encouraged by Dutch children. Where as in Belgium, schools follow a more traditional and perhaps conservative program and relationship between teachers and students, in the Netherlands students are encouraged to speak their mind. I am sure this doesn’t mean they can go around offending their peers or their teachers, Dutch students do speak out more about what they don’t like, what they find boring, and they are overall more talkative in class. While this is purely based on a handful of personal observations and comments from educators and parents, I think this attitude goes very well with the vrijheid of the overall Dutch culture.

  • Dutch parents are very involved and welcomed in the schools

Because of security reasons, schools in the U.S. and Mexico have protocols of when and how parents can access schools while their children are in class. Schools are set up in such a way that a parent can’t freely wonder around. In the Netherlands, the schools are a lot more open and parents are no strangers to the halls. Many of the parents of my students volunteer at the schools on a daily basis and they also like to observe the classes from the windows. While I always welcome parental support, having parents peak into the class is somewhat odd. However, I have noticed that the students are in no way distracted by their parents.

  • Parenting and the part-time-work culture

In several academic and non-academic publications I have read, the Netherlands has been described as the culture of part-time work. In a household, one of the parents usually works part-time and this is usually attributed to the needs of the children. While I know this isn’t the case for everyone, the average Dutch family can choose this and it is just great! Mommy and Daddy days are also pretty common, particularly on Wednesdays when children leave school early. While the balance of a career and family is always tricky, it seems the Dutch are very much in the lead in this regard!

  • BSO for full-time working parents

While the previous point was about the economical possibility of working part-time, the Netherlands is no stranger to the needs of parents that must or want to work full time. BSO or Buitenschoolse Opvang is an after-school program where students can stay while their parents work. The BSO isn’t always in the same school, but there are options for picking the children up at school to take them to the BSO location. Children can stay until 19:00 and, while the cost of this depends on the income of the parents, the average cost per day per student is €20. In the BSO, children can play sports, work on arts and crafts, and use the computer, however, this is not a school where children will have any type of formal classes.

  • Children are children

My last observation is a very simple one. Children in the Netherlands are no different than children elsewhere. While the children in the Netherlands enjoy many things, they are children and have the same worries and joys as children everywhere. They want to play, they want to fit in, they want attention, they like and don’t like school just as much as any kid, and they like to laugh! Even Princes Amalia, future Queen of the Netherlands, who just started middle school riding her bike to school, is just an average student!

YouTube Preview Image

What differences have you found between the Dutch school system and that of other countries?

The Dutch Alternative for the Elfstedentocht  

Posted on 28. Aug, 2015 by in Culture, sports

 

The Dutch Tocht der Tochten (tour of tours), the 200 km (120 mi) long ice skating tour that runs through eleven cities in the province Friesland in the winter, has an unfortunate fate. Everybody is hopeful each year again that the Elfstedentocht (eleven cities tour) will happen, though sadly this is usually not the case.The ice is often just not thick enough! 15 cm (6 in) at least is sufficient – which is often not achieved. It was held the first time in 1909, and since has only happened 15 times, with the last tocht in 1997.

Ice skating on natural ice in a cold Dutch winter. (Image by Paul van Eijden at Flickr.com)

What about all the fanatics of ice skating, all those that trained long and hard to be able to skate over 200 km? After all, the Elfstedentocht is held on creeks, rivers and canals – natural ice. The smooth surface of an artificial ice skating rink is just not the same. So what to do? Find an alternative natural surface to be able to skate on. It should be big, so 200 km can be done on it, and it should be well frozen. Both things are often not available in the Netherlands. So the Dutch move elsewhere – Austria.

Every year, thousands of Dutch people travel all the way to the Weissenseelake in Austria to ride the alternative Elfstedentocht that is organized there. With its length of 11.9 km (around 7 mi), a circuit for skating 200 km can be created. To and fro is 20 km – so already 10 laps are equivalent to the real Tocht der Tochten. Furthermore, because of its narrow size and high altitude, the lake is guaranteed to be frozen with a thickness of at least 60 cm (2 ft) every winter. So perfect conditions for this alternative Elfstedentocht!

Ice Skating during the Alternatieve Elfstedentocht Weissensee in Austria (Image by pattininews at Flickr.com)

In Weissensee, the alternative tour is held at the end of January or the beginning of February, just like the actual Elfstedentocht would. Thistocht has been organized byAlternatieve Elfstedentocht Weissensee (AEW) since 1989. Only twice, in 2007 and 2014, it was not held due to bad weather. In 2007, a replacingtocht was organized on the Khuvskol Lake in Mongolia.

Each year, around 6000 Dutch people go to this tocht. There are four recreational tours, and of course the speed skating race of 200 km. The winner of 2015 rode those 200 km in a (to me) stunningly fast 5 hours and 27 minutes!

 

Do you like ice skating – and would you make your way to the Weissensee? Could you do it faster? 😉

Also, is there a sport in your country that has certain (weather) requirements? And is there a sort of alternative for it if those requirements are not met?