A roll called heathy

A culinary imposter

In the Netherlands, every lunchroom, every bakery that sells filled rolls and every café has “broodje gezond” –  a so-called healthy roll – on the menu. I was initially very impressed, because it is not a matter of course to be offered a healthy alternative competing with less nutritious treats. I don’t want to tangle with all the bread-roll shop owners in the country and immediately commend all those whose “healthy rolls” really are healthy. But in my experience, they are a very small minority.

However likeable I otherwise find this country and its gastronomy – this is where the fun stops! In most cases, the “broodje gezond” solely consists of a roll (usually not even wholemeal!) spread with butter, margarine or mayonnaise (!) and topped with cheese and/or cooked ham. The only difference from an “unhealthy” roll is a lettuce leaf and 2-3 slices of tomato added! This modest difference is especially depressing when the lettuce leaf has already seen better days and the tomato slices are served straight from the freezer – an additional challenge for all periodontal patients.

Of course, I am not the only one who is outraged by this misleading advertising, and the Netherlands would not be the Netherlands if this issue were not widely and controversially discussed. The debate reaches an almost philosophical level. If a bun with two tomato slices and a lettuce leaf is at least a little healthier than a bun without, can the end product be called “healthy” just because it is slightly healthier than a product without these ingredients? Good question.

Can this colour be called “black”?

because it is a little blacker than this one?

While surfing the internet on the roll issue, I got the impression that the various healthy eating initiatives are also rather cautious on this point. In response to readers’ questions on this topic, they manoeuvre very cautiously. According to them, it all depends on various aspects whether the “broodje gezond” is healthy or not:

1. What else you eat or almost eat in the course of the day – or do not. In the sense of: if you decided against the mixed salad and in favour of the “broodje gezond”, the “broodje gezond” is of course not healthy, because the salad would have been healthier. However, if you have only eaten chocolate or nothing at all for the rest of the time, the “broodje gezond“ is the health highlight of the day.

2. Was there mayonnaise on it or margarine? How much ham? And how much salt was in the ham and cheese? And was there even a relish topping? This also influences the ranking.

3. Do you have good blood pressure numbers or not? And how many calories do you work off on average? Do you need a lot of carbohydrates for any reason?

The list of questions can go on and on.

I’m not surprised that the “broodje gezond” is even mentioned in a rap song – as an example that nothing in life is really reliable. (Qlas & Blacka: “Zelf ein broodje gezond, is niet eens gezond. Dus-Dus-Dus is je homie, wel je homie?” – Which means: “Even a “health roll” is not even healthy. So, so ,so – is your mate really your mate?”) There you can see what misleading names do to the young!

(And back to the colour: No, it’s not black – it’s grey! – I mean it!)

Original text: BBR
English translation: BCO


Author: bbr

Hello, I am Beate Brinkman, the bbr.harlekin. I am editor and author for Harlekin.Blog e.V. and my “main job” is support coordinator in an international IT company. So far I have worked in German, Dutch, American and Indian companies and have acquired a great deal of experience of multicultural cooperation. I have been living in the Netherlands as a German for many years and have discovered that the cultural differences between Germans and Dutch alone could fill entire books. For professional and private reasons, I am particularly interested in multicultural (mis)understanding. Whether it’s about food, language, official conference calls or the organisation of funerals – when the cultures of several countries collide, things get lively. And that leads to sometimes unpleasant, often very funny, but always instructive situations.

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