Last year the sole manufacturer of aniseed cubes in the Netherlands, De Ruijter, ceased manufacturing its well-known comfort product.
Aniseed flavoured hot milk is a favourite drink of many Dutch people who have trouble sleeping. Personally I prefer Blooker cacao, so I missed out on the whole aniseed cube scandal, until last night when a Facebook friend mentioned he could not sleep because he had run out of the vaunted cubes.
We’ve been making aniseed cubes since 1928 using practically the same method all that time. We’ve been able to keep the aniseed cube machine running for a long time, but wear and tear and the lack of replacement parts have made it impossible to extend the life of our machine.
The company has now introduced packets of aniseed powder at more than three times the price. Nobody is happy with this price hike and several people started stockpiling the cubes as soon as they found out. The limited number of likes the activist Facebook page Wij Willen De Ruijter Anijsblokjes Terug has received, only 75 at the time of writing, suggests perhaps a more practical reason why De Ruijter has stopped production.
Another company, M. & P. S., is still producing its own brand of aniseed tablets (“since 1854″, for whatever it’s worth), but apparently they are even more expensive than De Ruijter’s new packets.
I was in Munich earlier this year and went to a tapas bar with a German friend. He ordered some guacamole with nacho chips and then said that he really liked the guacamole he had eaten in the US, but didn’t understand why guacamole in Munich looked like mayonnaise with wasabi through it. I tasted it, and it was bitter: it looked very pale and didn’t taste like avocados at all. Then I told him about the guacamole dip you could buy at the Albert Heijn supermarket here that had almost the same questionable colour and tasted like weird mayonnaise.
It turns out that AH guacamole dip, which the supermarket chain has said should not be compared to real guacamole (so why do they feature a bowl of guacamole as a picture on the product?), has been pulled from their line of TexMex-style products for containing all of 0.7% avocado powder. More than 7,000 people have voted the dip ‘the biggest marketing lie of the year’. The supermarket chain has pulled the product and agreed to find another product to sell to replace it.
Back in early 2012 we told you about lab produced meat being made, and in late 2013 about the meat finally hitting the grill. Now it’s time to level up with a test-tube cookbook called ‘The In Vitro Meat Cookbook” written by Dutch-based scientists, chefs and artists and recently presented in Amsterdam.
“While some dishes are innovative and delicious, others are uncanny and macabre,” such as roast raptor, dodo nuggets and oysters grown from meat stem cells.
The idea was not to get people cooking so much as letting people imagine future possibilities.
While at English-language summer camp in Québec in 1984 reading a copy of TIME magazine about the Summer Olympics boycott by Eastern European countries, my Polish bunkmate stared around the big canvas tent we lived in from her bottom bunk with her distinct lack of cheerfulness, not knowing what to do with her quiet time. For the rest of us, it meant reading in bed and scarfing down some chocolate we called ‘tuck’, a British expression we didn’t know was British.
The Polish bunkmate had parents rich enough to send her to Canada for summer camp, but not enough for her to have any tuck. The other girls didn’t take to her because she couldn’t speak English very well and was quite reserved. I decided it would be funny to let he read the propaganda that is TIME magazine and also gave her some of my chocolate bar. She looks at me a bit scared, broke off a square, popped it her mouth, and went very quiet. “It’s good,” she said, finally smiling a bit. “What, you’ve never had chocolate before?” She nodded for no. She was 15.
Now it’s time to see how cocoa bean growers in Ivory Coast react when they taste chocolate for the first time, as filmed by a Dutch TV crew. Just like the Polish girl, it’s hard to believe that anyone hasn’t had chocolate before, especially cocoa bean growers.
In Dutch, French and at least another Ivory Coast language, with English subtitles:
Next, the Dutch at a market are shown a cacao pod and can’t figure out what it is, even after tasting it. I like the older man who wanted to say ‘abrikoos’ (‘apricot’) and turned into ‘Afrikoos’ (roughly ‘Africot’):
The Dutch have had their own Kickstarter site for a few months now and I have seen many interesting projects get the funding they probably deserve. However, they are a lot of ‘non-starters’ on the site because anybody can ask for money and hope for the best without being serious. The projects that get my attention usually fall into four categories: the good ones that usually get funded, the ones that don’t get funded or get insufficient funding, the ones nobody gives a toss about but could be serious, and the jokey ones. Let’s have a look at the last two categories, the losers and the jokers:
- ‘I need a computer to review stuff on the Internet and become a YouTuber’. How about you get a job? It would go faster, too.
- Two guys want to deliver apple pie to their friend for his 17th birthday, but would rather someone else pays for it. You can’t find 5-10 euro for your best friend? Ouch.
- ‘I make music. To make these tracks, I need money. You want to spend money on music’ It sounds more like you don’t want to spend money on music…
- Someone want to sell ‘trustee rings’ to prove their ‘fidelity’ and got 1 euro so far. They have GPS and Wi-Fi to track your partner. Stalker alert!
- A statue for Louis van Gaal, but only if the Netherlands wins the World Cup, which it didn’t. Nice try.
- Frying up extreme eggs. Ever since a potato salad got funded, Kickstarter is full of food-related projects.
- ‘A story about a boy that lives in a crappy world.’ Buy a diary, write it down and take up drinking like the rest of us.
Conceptually based on the Turkish güveç, a sort of earthenware pot used to prepare stews on barbecues, and designed by Casper Tolhuisen, the Barbecue Pot lets you cook all kinds of noms on the BBQ as a change up to the usual sausage and burger affair. The pot is filled with ingredients (meat and veg or simply vegetarian), including something specifically aromatic like a lemon, then sealed and cooked. The idea is that something like a lemon will act as a mini-steam cabin and cook the stew, giving it a nice barby flavour.
The stoneware Barbecue Pot comes with two recipes and has a blog where people can exchange recipes and tips. Dutch online design store SoonSalon sells the item for 69 euro in a few different colours.
Today in over 30 countries around the world, from New Zealand to the United States, fast food chain employees are striking to demand better wages because their full-time jobs don’t pay the bills, which has been the case for ages. “On May 15, we will be taking action together around the world to demand that McDonald’s—the second largest private sector employer in the world — respect its employees’ work.”
However, the Netherlands cannot be bothered. Just last week the Dutch FNV union claimed that fast food workers were the worst paid in the country, two euro an hour less than cleaning personnel who strike often and have been on strike for a while as I write this. The biggest difference is probably that the cleaners, due to their age and experience, know when they are being screwed by The Man, while the youth thinks it’s normal.
For starters, mostly people under 25 work at fast food chains, many of which still live at home, which is very different than in other countries where they are trying to make ends meet. The wages the Dutch make is more pocket money or tuition money than rent money.
Second, fast food jobs in the Netherlands are deemed temporary jobs for students or young people, while in the United States and elsewhere, you’ll see people over 50 working at a chain. Since the Netherlands openly practices ageism and not same pay for same work, every age group, from 18 to 25 gets a different salary, and someone above 50 would be way too expensive.
Back in 2010 Bavaria beer was caught up in controversy during the World Cup in South Africa because of its Dutch orange dresses. The dresses were seen as advertising another beer brand than the main sponsor and some good looking, thin blondes wearing the dresses got arrested, which turned out to be a great marketing stunt if ever there was one.
And now, some shop in Noord-Brabant that sells clothes for bigger women has managed to secure its own bit of free marketing by claiming that this year’s ‘HolánDress’ (cost:12,99 euro), which comes in sizes 34-40 (XS, X, M and L), excludes bigger women when such a garment should be bringing us all together. Apparently, the average Dutch woman weighs 80 kilos and wears size 42, which still means that a whole lot of women and girls will fit into that dress.
The dress is a marketing stunt, a knick-knack. They’ll be more of them as well in the future and they won’t get bigger unless someone makes it a stunt of making one for ‘big gals’. Then there might be whining about being singled out as a fat person from some shop somewhere, mark my words.
How’s about taking the bullshit by the horns and wear a nice orange dress or top (or even a blue, red and white ensemble) that suits you instead? How low on self-esteem does one have to be to want to follow a beer brewer’s fashion statement? Get proactive and shut up. Nobody gives a rat’s ass what you’re wearing in front of the telly. And you can always get off the couch and lose some weight if your life’s ambition is fitting into cheap stunt dresses.
Reddit user Adilu made this fun map of Europe which shows how many beers the legal monthly minimum wage buys you in Europe.
It turns out the well-paying beer-loving countries are the Germanic ones—no surprises there. The minimum wage of a Belgian buys you 1028 pints of beer, whereas the Dutch can purchase at least 761 pints with their monthly salary. Germany comes in third with only 521 beers.
A 45-year-old man from Ootmarsum in the province of Twente lost his driving license yesterday after getting caught Segwaying under the influence.
According to the local police a breathalyser test showed that the man had a blood alcohol level of 995 µg/l, which is far above the legal limit. Segways are considered a special type of moped in the Netherlands. They aren’t allowed to go faster than 25 kilometres per hour and driving them doesn’t require a driving license, but the law says that if you get caught operating any type of motor vehicle while under the influence of a certain amount of alcohol, the police may still take your car driving license.
If the man had been caught while riding a bicycle, the police would simply have sent him walking with his driving license still firmly in his wallet. It will be at least 13 days before his license is returned to him, unless the public prosecutor decides the drunk Segway driver is such a menace to society that he must be brought before a judge. In that case, the public prosecutor gets to hold on to the license a little longer.