Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Holland, will you marry me? part 2

It's amazing how well everyone here speaks English. From the old to the young, from the supermarket cashier to the big businessman, everyone speaks English. I mean, on one hand, I really like how the French have put up a fight against the Anglo-fication of the world, but on the other hand, it's damn nice to be able to easily communicate with people here without having to resort to hand gestures. Though I have to admit that I probably wouldn't have learned nearly as much French nearly as fast had more people in Bretagne spoken English this well.

Which brings me to another thing that surprised me - the number of TV shows in English. I have about 20 TV channels here at the hotel and at least half of them are in English with Dutch subtitles. And it's not just your standard BBC, CNN, etc channels - it's the whole gamme. They've got Oprah, Doctor Phil, Late night with David Letterman, Antique Roadshow, The Family Guy, plus all the typical shows like Desperate Housewives, etc. Granted, these are not exactly the crème de la crème of American TV, but it's still nice to be able to have some background noise on while working. There are also stations like Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, National Geographic & Comedy Central.

Another thing that's struck me is how tall everyone is. I was walking in downtown Utrecht and something felt different. All of the sudden it hit me - I was no longer a giant! There were women all around me that were taller than I was. And the men were gigantic, especially after years of looking at Frenchie midgets. Though that does make it all the more ridiculous when you see them eating chocolate sprinkles on their bread during the mid-morning break.

And last but not least, what's a trip to a foreign country without a trip to a grocery store? I was pleasantly surprised with a selection of hard-to-find items in France (or at least not at reasonable prices): Philly cream cheese, cheddar cheese, baby carrots, bubbalicious gum, cake mixes, cereal bars, coffeemate, light & dark brown sugar and chai tea, to name a few. I am glad this is such a short trip because it means I've got room in my suitcase to bring some goodies back. Including a few packages of the always-delicious stroopwafels. Yum.



Blogger Alisa said...

mmm stroopwafels :) try to get a fresh one at a market before you go! holland is pretty grand... glad you're having fun!

March 18, 2009 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

Holland sounds magical! I don't know if I could deal with the height difference though... hehe I am kind of enjoying being the tallest guy at work at my average height of 5'10". Oh but I could sooo go for some Cheddar cheese right about now.

March 18, 2009 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger Jennie said...

I love the Netherlands too! It's such a great country and Dutch sounds so cool. I've always heard that Dutch men are the tallest in the world, but I have no idea why. It is strange, eh?

March 18, 2009 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

you cannot marry Holland because I am :)

Dr.Phil AND Coffeemate? So jealous right now.

March 18, 2009 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger misschris said...

My neighbors are dutch and when we did our crepe party they brought this apple spread that's like Nutella in consistency. See if you can find it bc it's delicious !

March 18, 2009 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger wcs said...

Justin: your average height? How much does it vary?

Sam: it's funny you mention Philly cream cheese. We just recently got some as a gift from a friend in the UK. After eating French fromage à tartiner as a substitute, we found that we really didn't like the Philly much any more. It had a chemical taste that I didn't remember at all. I certainly was not expecting that given how much Philly I used to eat in the states!

March 18, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Emily Marie said...

yummmmmm...I LOVE stroopwafels!!

March 18, 2009 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger DiaryofWhy said...

Um, a country full of tall, English-speaking men? Sign me up, please! I am also tired of the French shorties, particularly those that lie about their height on their online profiles. Hello, I am going to find out!

March 18, 2009 at 3:28 PM  
Blogger Juli said...

I am so glad you were able to take my suggestion and go shopping! It was hard to explain in 140 characters but the packaged items and junk food in the Dutch stores are as good as what you get in the US and usually better. Dutch housewives do like convenience foods as most of them seem to work at least as hard as their husband. There are many frozen foods that are very good as well. I do not miss anything from the US as far as cooking, I can get it all once I figure out the name for it. Normal Dutch food really is very plain so they do eat a lot of food from other cultures.
I really do not crave anything from the US while in Holland but while in the US I do crave lots of Dutch foods.
Shall we help you find a Dutch boyfriend to share hagelslag with now?!

March 18, 2009 at 5:11 PM  
OpenID pinklea said...

The Netherlands is probably my second favourite country (France would be first - but then I've never lived there! :) ) I know what you mean about all those tall Dutch all too well. I think I spent my whole last trip there looking way up at everyone else and then walking right into the path of an oncoming bicycle.

March 18, 2009 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Walt, maybe it's due to manufacturing differences? I know there are a lot of things that taste different in Europe than in the US (coke, skittles, etc) - maybe Philly is too?

March 18, 2009 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Sophia's Monde said...

Part of the reason why they speak English so well- they use subtitles instead of dubbing like the French do!

March 18, 2009 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Ken Broadhurst said...

Sam, I'm convinced Phila. cream cheese is made the same all over the world. The stuff we got from friends who live in London was made in Germany. And if you look at the ingredients list, you see it is full of chemicals and gums and untold things that don't appear on the ingredients list of the French equivalent, called fromage à tartiner, which you can buy at Ed or SuperU or Intermarché. And the French product tastes better.

March 18, 2009 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Ken Broadhurst said...

And baby carrots? You must be kidding. That's a regular carrot that has been ground down until only the inner part is left. All the good stuff has been removed. The only advantage is that you don't have to peel it. 'Baby' is just a marketing term.

March 18, 2009 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Juli said...

I have not purchased the Philly but I had noticed it.I don't care for raw carrots but the ones B eats are just tiny and not ground down unless they go to the trouble of marking them and putting tiny leaves on top.

March 18, 2009 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger wcs said...

Well, real baby carrots do indeed exist, they look just like the mature ones, just smaller. Skin, greens, as Juli says.

But those little rounded things sold in plastic bags in the US are mature carrots that are cut and shaped and marketed as "baby." And they have no flavor, IMHO.

March 19, 2009 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger wcs said...

And here's an interesting entry in Wikipedia for baby carrots:

Baby Carrots

March 19, 2009 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger kylie said...

hagelslag is now my new favorite word.

March 19, 2009 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Quantumhollapena said...

grocery stores are one of my fav things about being in a foreign country! I always have to visit one!

March 31, 2009 at 9:56 PM  

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