10 things you probably didn’t know about the Dutch and the Netherlands

Cheese market in AlkmaarI lived in the Netherlands for a couple of years, and had a Dutch boyfriend for almost 4 years, so I know quite a bit about this quirky country and its unusual inhabitants (and I mean that in a good way). I’m going to share some pearls of wisdom about the Dutch and their country that I gleaned during my stay, and limit it to 10 because I could easily write 100 and bore you to death. Hope you enjoy.

1. Holland and the Netherlands are not synonymous. Holland is just one section of the Netherlands, largely the western coastal region, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Leiden and the Hague. However, other famous Dutch cities like Utrecht, Groningen, Maastricht, Den Bosch and Leeuwarden are *not* in Holland.

2. The Dutch love sprinkles on toast. I’m talking the sprinkles kids put on ice cream, but Dutch adults put it on bread. For breakfast. It’s called “hagelslag”, and De Ruijter makes the best kinds. Another variant, “muisjes” – little mice – are candied anise seeds; also delicious on buttered toast. You can get either pink, female, or blue, male, varieties. I’m not joking.

3. The Dutch will only eat one hot meal a day. If you arrive at a Dutch friend’s house around dinnertime, they might ask, “Heb je al warm gegeten?” which means “Have you eaten something hot already?” If you had a hot lunch, your friend will prepare a (cold) sandwich for you for dinner. You can not eat 2 hot meals per day.

4. Dutch “g” “ch” and “r” are all pronounced more or less the same (although the Dutch insist they’re different) – a harsh, guttural “kh” sound (like you’re clearing phlegm from your throat). So the word “gracht” (canal) combines all three “kh” sounds in one word…that sounds really, really awful: “khkhakht.” This is why “Grolsch” (the beer) sounds like “Khkhols”, not “grolsh”.

5. The Dutch love speaking English. See #4. Seriously, they all speak perfect, although heavily-accented, English. They will pronounce “idea” eye-DEE, and they will resist pronouncing it with 3 syllables in English, no matter how many times you correct them. On a related note, “I have no idea” is “geen idee”, which sounds a little like “rainy day” when pronounced correctly.

6. The Dutch loathe the Germans. Some pretend they don’t, some are openly proud of it, but they all look down on them. An example: I was walking along a beach (Schevengingen) with a Dutch guy, and we saw a guy furiously digging a hole in the sand. My Dutch friend sneered. I asked him why the guy was digging a hole. He said, “Because he’s a dumb German.” I pressed, but what for? Is he building a castle or something? “No, he’s just a stupid German! He can’t help it! The morons just love digging holes for no reason!”
Another story. A Norwegian friend flew down to Germany, rented a car there and drove to Rotterdam. He had parked on the street, and a cop approached him while he was in his car, and told him, in German, that he wasn’t allowed to park there and began writing him a ticket. When he looked at his driver’s license and saw he was Norwegian, he tore up the ticket, said, “Park wherever you want” and “Welcome to Holland!”, all in English.

Rows of tulips7. The country is drenched with rain year round, but the Dutch never use umbrellas. They use raincoats and rain “suits”, but they never use umbrellas (too hard to ride your bicycle with one; plus, it’s *really* windy all the time). The Dutch will happily put up with wet faces and heads. The “wet look” is permanently “in” there.
Another oddity is no matter how much it rains and floods temporarily, all the water’s gone in about 20 minutes. I think it’s because the ground is mostly sand; the water just drains away. The cement blocks used as a road surface are taken out every few years, the sandy ground is pounded flat with this sand-pounding-machine (seriously) and then they replace the cement blocks.

8. The Dutch have strange snacking habits. They eat fries (what they’re famous for) but they’re often drenched in mayonnaise or pindasaus (basically spicy peanut butter). They also love frikandel (all the scary remnant parts of animals they can’t sell elsewhere, pressed into a vaguely hotdog shape, and then deep-fried until dark brown; yes, it looks like a piece of shit), kroketten (deep-fried lumps of dough wrapped around meat, that look like dried-up old turds), and cheese souffles, which are greasy but I have to admit, pretty damn tasty. The most famous purveyor of this junk is a chain called Febo; you buy everything out of an automat. They’re everywhere, especially inside train stations, and open late when you’re coming out of the clubs at 3am.

9. You heard about the Dutch using free bicycles provided by the government? Nope – that’s the Danish. The Dutch love using bicycles (called ‘fietsen’, pronounced FEETS-un), but in every city, theft is rife and you have to use 2-3 locks to prevent even a piece of shit bike from being stolen. This is why the average Dutch person doesn’t spend more than $50 for a bike – it’ll eventually get stolen. Junkies in the Amsterdam red light district will sell you a bike for 10 euros (25 guilders before the euro changeover), but be careful; if you buy one and a cop sees you, you go to jail.
There are specially-designated “fietspaden” (bike paths) all over the country, and pedestrians can not walk on them. If you hear a bell ringing–that’s how the Dutch tell people to get out of the way–then pay attention! You’re about to get mowed over.

10. The Dutch are not big potheads. Despite it being legal there (along with “magic mushrooms”), you almost never see a Dutch person getting high. You see TONS of foreigners – Brits, Americans, Germans, etc – smoking out in Dutch “coffee shops” (“coffee shop” means marijuana; “cafe” means coffee, so pay attention to what the establishment calls itself), but it’s pretty rare to see a Dutch person there. The legalization is tied to a very Dutch concept called “gedoogbeleid” which is difficult to translate but means permissiveness-because-there-are-bigger-fish-to-fry. The Dutch live below sea level, so they have plenty of dams & dikes keeping the water out. To relieve pressure on this system, a little water always trickles through – that’s okay as long as they can keep the floods out. This is often why the Dutch are said to not care about trivial drugs like marijuana and magic mushrooms – so they can focus on hard drugs like cocaine and meth (which are very much illegal).

There’s my list. Let me add something that I found in a tourist brochure given out at the Schiphol (SKHIP-hull, not Shiffol!) airport, which I think totally captures the Dutch attitude (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have it here):

  • Please keep in mind that not all of the women you see in the windows in the Red Light District are really women.
  • If something bad happens to you, please find a policeman/policewoman and explain the situation to us. Please do not be embarrassed – we have really seen it all before. You couldn’t possibly shock us.
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  1. Daily Candor response to me in 48 .
    I witnessed this many times in New York, albeit few decades ago. I was laughed at for asking for tomato sauce to be passed…guy said “ya mean the ketchup”? Differences as I said…

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — March 12, 2017 @ 3:49 am

  2. the dutch are a real mix, but unfortunately – like tthe english- the more ‘whiter’ areas are terribly racist and xenophobic. intelligent people yes, emotionally inept, yes…….VERY SELF CENTRED AND SELFISH …that is the dutch way……’look after yourself first’…everyone else can wait. In summary , the dutch are a bit shitty. Just my opinion based on living in groningen area for over 4 years.

    Comment by rob — March 12, 2017 @ 8:46 am

  3. No 2 Rob
    Sorry you say the English in white areas are racist and xenophobic?? In the council owned property areas people can moan because there is not enough housing for the English … the Asian community have their areas and god forbid if we were to walk through there, and they are now fighting with the Romas living alongside them…so racisism going on there. However I live in a so-called “white” area alongside some Polish, Lithuanians, Portuguese, French, Jamaicans etc down my road…we all get along fine.
    And if the Dutch are so racist why did they NOT vote for Geert Wilders recently??

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — March 22, 2017 @ 12:38 am

  4. for so far i know its not true they like to speak foreign languages to be precise about it they suck at especially english its not their favorite they might hit a record for german or french

    Comment by cellie — April 5, 2017 @ 10:08 pm

  5. R is pronounced by rolling your tongue, g and ch are similar in most cases and pronounced with the back of your throat.

    My English niece wanted to learn my language, so when I said g or ch in Dutch, she looked me dead in the eye and snorted her nose… I laughed so hard, I fell of my chair… lol

    Comment by Max — April 11, 2017 @ 3:29 am

  6. Just wanted to add that the little mice, in the first part, are specifically meant for when a baby is born. You pass around biscuits (or..similair to biscuits and crackers) with butter and the little mice on them. You either use white ones, pink ones, blue ones, mixed ones OR if the Queen has a baby, there’s orange (national colour of the Royal Family) ones available in the stores.

    Also, the part about the Febo, it’s an automat, sure, but we like to call it a wall. Usually the automat is placed inside a wall, with tiny little windows. You’ll hear people o the street say; ‘Ah well, dinner… maybe we’ll pull something out of the wall’, that means they’ll go to a snackbar and use the wal-automat. Maybe that’s a fun detail to mention.


    Comment by Lilith — April 15, 2017 @ 4:22 pm

  7. I have been speaking to a Dutch guy on the internet email for almost 4 years. I know he dose not like English language. And he
    has told me repeatedly that the Dutch people hate the Americans. We are arrogant, fat and very fake people. And yes the Dutch are very stuck on there selfs and very rude. He has said the American people are the worst and considered very much an outsider. So be it. He lives in the Eindhoven area.

    Comment by Lisa — April 27, 2017 @ 2:44 pm

  8. This is an absolute accurate article. I, as a Dutch person hate Germans, or Germany as a country (among others), satay sauce is a spicy peanut butter sauce.
    G, Ch and R sound completely the same and depending on the word, you use a different letter to spell them.

    And with this I have not even spoken about most of the facts you wrote.

    Comment by A. — April 30, 2017 @ 6:54 pm

  9. Mayo and with fries? Sounds good to me!

    Comment by Sam — May 19, 2017 @ 9:04 pm

  10. Response to Lisa and .A

    Lisa, try to write atleast 90% of your sad message correctly, and no, no countries people can hate other countries peoples like that without a ww2 or isreal and palastinian moment, and the person you talked probably isn’t dutch but some sad pidhfil on the internet.
    Dat is niet waar, niet iedereen haat Duitsers/Duitsland, niemand behalve het domme redneck equivalent van Nederland, als je niet weet wat ik daar typte:Ik zei dat je waarschijnlijk een of ander trieste boerepummel bent die geen opleiding heeft gehad.


    Comment by Dundar Von Firenea — May 21, 2017 @ 11:54 pm

  11. Holland, the land of the cyclists….Lots of bikes being stolen by foreign gangs according to my ex Dutch beau.
    Happening in my land too… rampant across the country.

    I adore the chips and mayo I ate in Amsterdam.

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — May 22, 2017 @ 1:57 am

  12. Dolder up. Klote sock

    Comment by Ken van konijnenburg — May 29, 2017 @ 4:41 pm

  13. Sorry no 12 Ken… can u say that in English just in case u are being rude, LOL, or maybe I can google!!

    As I write, we’ve just had the terrorists nutters killing again in my country…. life is grand.
    Multiculturalism really works doesn’t it…NOT

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — June 4, 2017 @ 2:45 am

  14. Aah Ken, google is wonderful…looked it up.. means “pull your socks up” or ” put a sock in it” …sandrax

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — June 4, 2017 @ 2:49 am

  15. Who was he talking to do you think?

    Comment by Dundar Von Firenea — June 14, 2017 @ 9:13 am

  16. Dundar… all of us on here maybe?? My dad often told my brother to “dolder up, klote sock”!!

    We’ve had the terrorists and now London is now burning…. thank god I grew up in the swingin sixties when life was simple and people had manners….

    Just had an argument with my 1960s Dutch boyfriend… he gets worked up about nothing. Is that a Dutch trait??!!

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — June 17, 2017 @ 1:06 am

  17. Depends which part of the Netherlands your from, you have the low intellect farmer equivalent and then there is the parts where there are high ranking universities and good (Middleschools?) i don’t exactly remember the english/american version.

    Comment by Dundar Von Firenea — June 17, 2017 @ 10:12 am

  18. He’s a real traditional Amsterdam boy… well man now. Complains a lot.

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — June 21, 2017 @ 7:32 am

  19. Just recently return from holiday, met a Dutch couple while there, absolutely great people had a good laugh with them during our evenings together, they spoke very good English.

    Comment by Linda — July 13, 2017 @ 8:07 am

  20. When Reading it I was laughing so hard. I’m a Dutch woman myself and life’s in Zuid-Holland, The Hague (Den Haag). It’s funny to see how other people think of us. And this piece is pretty accurate.

    Comment by Marielle — September 8, 2017 @ 3:02 am

  21. I´m dutch and I have to say that I agree pretty much. There´s one thing I disagree with, and that´s number 10. Dutch people DO smoke. In the big cities like Ámsterdam, Rotterdam etc, it´s true that there are a lot of tourists in the coffeeshops. But if you go to smaller cities, the coffeeshops are full of locals.

    Comment by max — September 25, 2017 @ 6:50 am

  22. Every Dutchman who has read this article knows there’s a lot of truth in it lol. To me, the writer seems to like the Dutch and makes things look so much better than they actually are. Plus, we got a lot of derivative and damn disgusting food over here

    Comment by Mike — October 5, 2017 @ 3:13 pm

  23. Mike dat is niet waar, en je naam lijkt me niet echt Nederlands, hoezo hebben ‘wij’ vies eten? praat voor jezelf groepeer mensen niet.

    Comment by Dundar Von Firenea — October 6, 2017 @ 6:02 am

  24. Hello Sandra,

    Like your “tongue in cheek” comments about the Dutch – though lots of poetic license. Just one thing you have absolutely wrong and that is about “kroketten”. THESE ARE NOT MADE OF DOUGH!! It is based on a French receipe for “raguee” which is flour based. Meat is cooked/stewed with spices etc until very tender – like a broth. Then flour is added to turn it into “raguoe” – thickish paste when cold. This is rolled into long oblong “sausage shape” and crumbed. Normally then in fridge/frozen until want to eat. Taken out of fridge and deep fried in oil – only a few minutes until golden brown on the outside. Generally eaten in a bread roll with mustard. The same receipe is used to make “Bitten Balle” – only difference is “raguoe” paste rolled into balls and then same process.

    Pity you did not say anything really nice about The Netherlands or the Dutch. You obviously English and you have to admit the English food is really boring. Lived in the UK for 18 years so do have a good reference point.


    Herman Leyenaar

    Comment by Herman Leyenaar — October 17, 2017 @ 2:33 am

  25. so, people assume that all dutch white people are racist and hate the americans and german? that’s not true. not all of them. I, myself am 100% dutch and white, I have many friends from different races and yes, maybe a lot of dutch people underrate them and the immigrants too. but, I absolutely love americans, i love germany and don’t get us wrong, a lot of dutch people do actually! there are more than you would expect, but it also kind of depends on the area people live in. plus, many of us who haven’t yet, would love to visit america some time, that might sound crazy, but it is true. so, this article is not completely true and just so you know, don’t think all dutch people are complete assholes. if you’re not dutch but do plan to visit sometime, order a frikandel speciaal at the snackbar, you’ll love it. (;

    DailyCandor: Do you really think this post makes Dutch people look like “complete assholes”?

    Comment by Anna — October 25, 2017 @ 4:09 am

  26. I think my Dutch .. well, part dutch friends attitude is grumpy or angry or whatever but she’s good to me and I love her to death and she’s really creative and makes me laugh. I think Im like 2% Dutch to sometimes lol . #bff#daman’duh

    Comment by chelsie — October 27, 2017 @ 12:43 am

  27. Dundar Von Firenea
    Sorry dat je het niet met me eens bent. Je moet nooit in Nederland wonen.

    Comment by Mike — October 29, 2017 @ 5:00 am

  28. Hello Herman,
    I think you have the wrong person. When did I ever talk about “kroketten”??????? I’ve never heard of the stuff. I mentioned the lovely chips with mayo. Can you please point out the number where this is to be found????
    And when did I say bad things about the Dutch? My first love being one. Never did I say bad things about the Dutch. We have a bond from the war…you know we Brits came and saved your country, my dad being one of them, a Para at Arnhem.
    Think you have mixed me up with someone else on here!!
    And I don’t insult people like you have just done to me. I’m all for peace and love most of the time, like Yoko and John in Amsterdam hotel bed.
    Re British food, don’t know how long ago you lived here but we have some of the finest restaurants in Europe now. I don’t recall Dutch food being very memorable, the chips and the breakfasts I liked. Other food in Amsterdam I can’t remember except for foreign food restaurants.
    So please go back and see who wrote all that, because it wasn’t me.
    Night night, Sandra x

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — October 29, 2017 @ 11:36 am

  29. Herman no 24.
    Go read back my Posts …numbers 26, 35, 38, 44, 48 and then more recent 1, 2, 13, 16, 18
    Can’t see any insults about the Dutch or a mention of “kroketten” … go have a look and write me back an apology.
    Thank you,

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — October 29, 2017 @ 11:44 am

  30. Hahahaha ik weet nog niet waarom dit heb ik geschreven, maar 1 ding is zeker: ik ben de lul <3

    Comment by Mike — October 29, 2017 @ 1:20 pm

  31. Hello Sandra, forgot about this site – just stumbled on it a few months ago. My comments were in response to the article stated right at the top of this web page – “10 things you probably did not know about the Dutch”.

    Why I addressed to Sandra have no idea 🙂 Anyway I re-read my comments after reading your comments and seriously not sure what I need to apologise for. Just have a different view or a constructive comment does not translate to requiring an apology. Anyway, keep well and safe, and have a relaxing good festive break with family and friends.

    And if you were Dutch then I would have wished you an enjoyable Sint Nicholas next week. Bye and regards. Herman

    Comment by Herman Leyenaar — November 28, 2017 @ 3:00 pm

  32. Herman,
    I refer to the last sentence you wrote me on 24. I say again that I never said nothing bad about the Dutch.
    But anyway Christmas coming, peace and love and all that. X

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — November 29, 2017 @ 2:29 pm

  33. Hello Sandra,

    still unclear re last sentence? Below is my last paragraph with 3 sentences. So doubt can be the last sentence as that seems factual. Maybe the 2nd sentence re you being English and English food being boring. I don’t think that is rude or untoward – so why need for an apology. Typical meals – fish and chips, baked beans on toast, Sunday roast and vegatables – now that does qualify as enjoyable but nothing special. Guess we both just commenting on the quirks and “oddities” of the cuisine in each country seen from the others perspective. My only stronger case is I am Dutch and did actually live in England for about 14 years. C’est la vie.

    Have a good relaxing festive break with family and friends. Cheers and regards Herman 🙂

    Pity you did not say anything really nice about The Netherlands or the Dutch. You obviously English and you have to admit the English food is really boring. Lived in the UK for 18 years so do have a good reference point.

    Comment by Herman Leyenaar — December 1, 2017 @ 11:47 am

  34. number 3 isn’t true. we often do only eat a hot meal in the evening, but if you lunched with a hot meal, someone won’t give you a cold meal as your dinner!

    Comment by floortje — March 29, 2018 @ 11:35 am

  35. A lot of bs, even funny. Some are factual, though exaggerated!

    Comment by Henk friezer — May 5, 2018 @ 11:52 pm

  36. Dear Herman,
    Wondering how long ago it was that you lived in England, hence your out of date view of British food. We have some of the finest restaurants now, but of course Indian food is popular too. Curry taken over from fish n chips as our national dish. (All I ate was foreign food when I was last in Amsterdam).
    And I repeat again, when did I run down the Dutch… I nearly married one?!!
    Only thing I will add again is that my Paratrooper father fought for your country at Arnhem, “A Bridge too Far”, seen the film? … so maybe show some more respect to us Brits for saving you from the Nazis.
    I see Xmas has come and gone, soon be summer since we last wrote like pen pals!
    PS. You say you lived in UK 14 years and then in another comment you say 18 yrs, getting confused, have you been visiting those little smokey Amsterdam cafes too much?!
    Sandra x

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — May 6, 2018 @ 12:24 pm

  37. Americans are the most fat, stupid and vile people I have ever met.

    DailyCandor: Curious, then, why you choose to be surrounded by so many of them. Kindred spirits?

    Comment by Don Patrick — October 20, 2018 @ 4:53 pm

  38. Dear Don Patrick
    We’re talking about the Dutch on here, not the Americans…!!

    Comment by Sandra johnstone — October 21, 2018 @ 1:58 am

  39. Huh, weird, someone using my name and personal website to make insults. I guess I’ll go and change my passwords.

    DailyCandor: Your IP address is in NL while the one before traces back to Missouri, so unlikely the same person. Sorry you have to deal with this.

    Comment by Don Patrick — October 22, 2018 @ 1:55 am

  40. Geen probleem, sorry dat ik een gek naar je toe heb geleid, maar het is duidelijk iemand met een nepmening waar je je niks van aan moet trekken.
    I do like this article, by the way. I’d say it’s missing a little nuance in the example of beach Germans, but what you describe is really how it really looks to an outsider, so that just makes it funnier to be confronted with.

    Comment by Don Patrick — October 22, 2018 @ 10:57 am

  41. Don Patrick,
    And those were only a few of our good points. You really have to pay closer attention to Americans.
    I can’t wait to visit Netherlands. Land is land, water is water, and sand is sand but
    the people sound like “hoots”.

    Comment by Lann Bell — February 21, 2019 @ 7:22 pm

  42. The netherlands is pretentious and fake to the bone and all about keeping up appearances. I agree with the poster who said the article is too positive, much too positive. Expats perhaps would take the false changes that the Netherlands has been trying to apply, for granted and assume they are Dutch. Which many things are not. They are trying to come across as being higher civilized than they are through stealing Belgian culture and class, on so many occasions that it’s become to the point of Belgian identity, astonishing and awkward. And I wonder frankly if there’s one other country in the world who’s in need of stealing (not borrowing, but stealing by denying it was copied) from another country, this vastly and intimately?

    That the G, CH and R would have the same sound is a lie and ridiculous, I can’t believe what I’m reading. In fact, this whole debate shouldn’t be on a page about Holland, since it has nothing to do with their nature. In truth Dutch language has an American R. Since they have been stealing Belgian language in recent years, vocabulary first, followed by pronunciation, they are trying to mimic the Belgian R (which still isn’t the same as the G, certainly not in Flemish, but given the harsh Dutch G and their failed mimic of the Belgian R, I can see why they might think so). Neither is the G pronounced like a K. All in all, you shouldn’t believe them, in fact in general you shouldn’t, they’re just pretending to be sophisticated and trying to act like they are Romanesque like Belgium, Romanesque which would be where the G could be pronounced like a K. But this is far far from their truth and doesn’t belong to them, at all.

    Comment by Isabelle — May 20, 2019 @ 12:29 pm

  43. Well, we were short of a belgian opinion and definitely the one of an angry jealous flemish woman but fortunately Isabelle (# 42) has set the record straight. As a flemish paper once (nineties) wrote: « hatred is a form of pleasure; if the flemish can not hate the Dutch or the French, they hate the Walloons or else the people of the next village and if neither of those are available, they will simply hate their neighbours ». The flemish, happy people consumed and motivated by hate and envy, have an impressive number of suicides, one of the highest antidepressants consumption and more than 52% of the marriages end in a divorce. Furthermore, they have impressive numbers of traffic fatalities with hit-and-run crimes and their history teaches never to trust a Belgian: treacherous people with a king that wanted to ally with Hitler and with many volunteers for the Nazi’s (« das Übermensch » lived and still lives in Belgium, definitely not in Germany). Success is imported, naturalised, nationalised and else, history is forged. The Belgians never make ‘good’ top ten rankings and always top the ‘bad’ rankings. Her rant against the Dutch says it all, I rest my case. The article: it’s not worth the ink (if printed) and almost all comments show little intelligence, especially the « Dutch » comments.

    Comment by AgentOrange — August 27, 2019 @ 3:03 pm

  44. Agent orange. I liked your post above,
    …the worst Belgians I have seen are both at the EU… drunken Juncker, and big mouth with the gap tooth (and they say the English have bad teeth!!) Guy van der Hofstadt who loves the sound of his own voice.. and once said discreetly that he loves the British and has an old English car he races.
    Aren’t there a lot of serial killers there too, or is that in Austria?

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — August 28, 2019 @ 1:02 am

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