All of us know Netherlands. Or we think we do. Like we know about the tulips, the beautiful canals, the rich history etc. Some of us may even know about the red light district. Actually, most of us only know that part of Netherlands. But there’s a lot more to this country than just scantily clad women and coffee shops that offer more than just coffee. Mumbai is playing host to a Holland Meets Mumbai initiative by the by the Dutch Consulate in Mumbai and the Kingdom of the Netherlands in India from 1st to 7th June 2015 and there’s loads you will discover about this country. But here are a few interesting things that we thought we should share.
1. That Netherlands is described as a consociational state.
Google the word. I didn’t know it either. This means that the monarch is the head of state but the position comes with limited powers. The power of decision making lies with the Dutch cabinet that consists of 13-16 ministers.
2. Unilever is a partly Dutch company.
You practically use atleast one product a day from this company. In India, it’s called Hindustan Lever. The company –Unilever- is a British Dutch company with headquarters in Rotterdam and London. Know Philips? Yup, that’s a Dutch company too.
3. Coffee shop caveats
Typical conversation in coffee shop in India: Server: How would you like your coffee? No, we do not serve alcohol. So, café latte?
Typical conversation in coffee shop in Amsterdam: Server: How would you like your coffee? No, we do not serve alcohol. Would you like weed or hash?
Yup, coffee shops are legally allowed to sell drugs but not alcohol. Go figure.
4. Be-spokes roads
A person on a cycle in India is a laundry guy, a delivery guy or someone who tests everyone’s patience by slowly riding his cycle in the middle of the road. In Netherlands, cycles are used everywhere by everyone. They have a concept called Fietsstraat or a bike street where cycles are the main mode of transport and motorized vehicles are allowed only as guests. Hahaha. In your face, motorists.
5. Going Dutch
You know that awkward moment on a date? No, not the kissing bit. The bit where the bill arrives and neither of you think the other person is worth paying for? Then you decide to Go Dutch? Yeah, well, that phrase means that you split the bill. The phrase dates back to the times when the British and Dutch were at loggerheads over trade and politics. The Brits found the Dutch stingy for splitting the bill and hence the term. We have the Dutch to thank for the millions we have all been saving on dates.
6. Fab food
If you are going to Netherlands, I would suggest you leave the theplas and parathas at home. There’s plenty you will find there. ‘For starters, India and Netherlands have been trading spices for almost four centuries now. And some of our tastes are quite similar. Like rich creamy butter sauces, only the Dutch and Indians can enjoy this,’ says Geoffrey Van Leeuwan, Consul General of the Kingdom of Netherlands. While most of us only know the Edam and the Gouda cheeses, there’s a lot more this country has to offer. A sandwich spread called Heksenkaas was delicious. Stamppot is a delicacy made with mashed potatoes, chopped kale and carrots is like the healthier, Dutch version of vada pav. Flavourful and mild, Dutch food is fun to discover.
We met the very handsome Geoffrey Van Leeuwan, Consul General of the Kingdom of Netherlands at Foodhall in Palladium, Lower Parel as part of the promotion of the Holland meets Mumbai initiative. Holland Meets Mumbai showcases Dutch expertise, tradition & entertainment to the people of Mumbai. There are several activities under this banner ranging from innovation to sports to art! To get details, visit this page. Foodhall, a lifestyle food superstore is giving patrons a chance to try out the flavours of the Dutch cuisine as part of this initiative.