Fitness the Dutch Way – the “Vierdaagse“

Having repeatedly reported on the Dutch people’s preference for deep-fried delights on harlekin.blog, I would now like to address the issue of how the citizens of my adopted country manage to keep fit despite these temptations.

From my observations, I can say that this must partly due to the fact that cycling is still extremely popular in the Netherlands, even in sub-optimal climatic conditions. All manner of more or less roadworthy versions of child seats, child trailers, etc. are to be seen often with mothers or fathers and three small children distributed around the bike.

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Let’s go get some fries!

A decision aid for hungry foreigners in the Netherlands

French fry fans don’t always have an easy time in the Netherlands, because the established “extras” to French fries are different from what we know from the average chip shop elsewhere. Since we take the life-support function of our Harlequin blog very seriously, we would like to support you in your decision-making here as well.

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Multicultural teamwork

“What you don’t want people to do to you…”

When we talk broadly about international company takeovers, joint ventures and corporate co-operations, there is an interpersonal aspect behind these economic headlines: teams that previously were often active only in their own language and cultural area need to initiate international cooperation. I have already experienced this situation in two companies (one formerly German and one formerly Dutch) and am aware of the uncertainties that the initial phase of an international team structure brings with it. The time is not always there to prevent all potential gaffes with hazard warnings. I can assure you that under the pressure of day-to-day business, people very often blunder, even with the very best intentions!

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Can you hear me? I can’t hear you!

International Conference Calls

In international companies, the Conference Call is the easiest way to hold meetings with participants from different countries. Depending on the company’s policy, this is done as a video call (with web cams) or audio only. Both have pros and cons.

The advantage of the video call is that it becomes easier to follow what is happening, because you can see the participants talking and can recognize and interpret any emerging anger, impatience or lack of understanding earlier.

The advantage of “audio only” calls, on the other hand, is that you can take part in meetings that take place in the middle of the night or in the early morning due to the time difference, even in your pyjamas, without anyone noticing it. In addition, you can wander around the house during the meeting – equipped with a headset.  However, it makes sense to know the range of your headset, otherwise you might miss crucial dramatic moments.

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Beschuitjes met muisjes

New frontier experiences on my gastronomic journey through the Netherlands

When a baby is born, this happy event is of course duly celebrated, and in Germany there are numerous possibilities for this. In my homeland, the Ruhr area, where things tend traditionally to be rather robust, fathers often buy a round in the pub and let “the baby pee”. I’ve also heard of the grandmothers’ huge cake creations, but I don’t know of any nationwide tradition of celebrating the arrival of a baby across state borders.

In the Netherlands it’s different: in the whole country when the baby is born, there is almost the same culinary variant to which people are invited -beschuitjes with muisjes. “What’s that?” – you will ask yourself.

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Kartoffelklöße, Flädlesuppe and Soleier (aka potato dumplings, pancake soup and soused eggs)

On unsettling Dutch experiences of the culinary kind in Germany

Fairness obliges me in the second part of my series on the differences between Dutch and German food, to give the Dutch their chance to marvel at the peculiarities of the German cuisine.  In my experience this mostly occurs with regional specialities. 

When my husband first set eyes on potato dumplings he asked why anyone would want to grate something as perfect and tasty as a potato into a sort of dough only then to shape it back into something that looked like a potato! He thought that was completely inefficient – and I have to admit he is not absolutely wrong.

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Croquettes und Bitter Balls

After the appearance of my article “Food – a Test of Courage” I was asked by German travellers to the Netherlands to go into more detail on the peculiarities of the Dutch cuisine. Some of the host country’s culinary offerings are very confusing for German guests.

That applies the other way around too, of course. My Dutch husband, who, like all honest people who don’t like cooking, rarely gripes about the food prepared by others, once said quite horrified: “Well, I just don’t understand the German health department ever allowing this!” The subject of this comment at the time was potato dumplings – but more on this in the second part.

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