Dutch Language Blog

How Do The Dutch Wish an Enjoyable Meal? Posted by on Jul 24, 2018 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

In English, one might simply wish “enjoy your meal”, in German, we say guten Appetit, and the French made the famous bon appetit. But what do the Dutch say? Do they have their own version of appetit? Let’s find out

Eet smakelijk?

Image by Dan Gold at Unsplash.com

A very common phrase in Dutch is eet smakelijk (eat tastefully) to wish somebody an enjoyable meal. While this is very widespread, some people are appalled by the imperative in that wish: you tell somebody to eat with taste, you do not give them another choice. And at the same time, you wish and hope that the food will taste good – that is not very nice towards the cook!

So the etiquette proposes a different way:

Smakelijk eten (tasty meal), which is a shortened version of Ik wens u een smakelijk eten (I wish you a tasty meal).

Or you could say Laat het u smaken! (Let it be tasty to you!)

But these are very formal ways of wishing somebody a tasty meal – and the Dutch are often not this formal. So what else can you say?

Much more informal versions exist too, such as eet ze! (go ahead and eat it!) or even just smakelijk! (tasty!)

Here zegen deze spijze, amen

Image by Ben White at Unsplash.com

In Christian families, meals are often begun with a gebed (prayer), and sometimes it is kept very short, as with Here zegen deze spijze, amen (Lord, bless this meal, amen). It is a standard formulation, as grammar and word choice are no longer of this time.

Longer gebeden (prayers) are not unusual either, and sometimes the Onze Vader (Lord’s prayer) is done instead.

What all Christian gebeden have in common is that they often end in an eet smakelijk after the amen anyway!

In general, some sources say that the Christian opening and/or closing of a meal is declining in the Netherlands.

Jokes and rhymes

There are lot of brilliant and partly quite grof (rude) jokes and rhymes to mix up the boring eet smakelijk a bit. Here are some:

Lieve God ik hou het kort, anders stelen ze het eten van mijn bord.

(Dear Lord, I keep it short, or they’ll steal the food from my plate.)

Vader, Zoon, Heilige Geest / Wie het vlugst vreet, heeft het meest.

(Father, son, holy spirit / whoever eats the fastest, has the most.)

Dat we het maar binnen mogen houden. Deels. Tijdelijk.

(That we may keep it inside. Partially. Temporarily.)

Aangebrand en nog niet gaar. Houd je mond en eet nu maar.

(Burned and not yet done. Now keep your mouth shut and just eat.)

More of these (but only in Dutch) you can find here.

Finally, I would like to close with a spreuk from my grandmother:

Eet ze met hapjes, poep ze met grapjes! (Eat it with little bites, poo it with jokes!)

What do you think of these openings and closings? How does it work in your country? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.