Archive for March, 2007

Pancakes and Broken Glass

Dutch Word of the Day
pannenkoeken: pancakes
Pannenkoek avond was een succes. Pancake night was a success.

It was a ton of fun. There was a ton of toppings for the pancakes (including cracktella, whipped cream and fruit) and bad pop music abound. Then we went to Dansen bij Jansen, a student dance club near the Jordaan. The DJ has a great sense of timing, but bad taste in music. It was a really manic set. And there was barely and ventilation and a ton of cigarette smoke because this isn’t New York. There was a lot of broken glass. I’ve never been out at bars or clubs in the states, but there was so much broken glass here I couldn’t believe it. Every couple of minutes, someone would drop a glass.

Other than that it was fun. It’s hard to find good places in Amsterdam cause it’s so small. When something gets good, it gets too popular. Or costs 10-15 euro to get in.

And I think to myself…what a wonderful world…

Dutch Word of the Day
leuk: nice, cute
Dat was veel leuk!
That was so cute!

This is in reference to my Dutch Social Policy class’ visit to a school/community center in De Pijp, a neighborhood outside of the center. I got very lost on the way there, but I’m glad that I found it.

The kids were making us dinner. They have a cooking club and were quite busy taking our orders and putting drinks together. They were very serious and very, very adorable. I didn’t understand what they were saying because they don’t speak English yet, but they were patient with my rudimentary Dutch. And the food was quite good! There was even tiramisu for dessert.

(I know, right? Damn!)

They really should have cooking programs like this in the US, especially with our childhood obesity problem. Once people learn that it is more fun, healthy, and cheap too cook instead of doing takeout/fast food all the time, it’ll change everything. But we can only dream.

One of the kids mixing the drinks actually looked like a very young picture of my brother. I was like, “Mini-Mart? No? OK….”

Nothing to do With Amsterdam II: Macy Gray

Dude looks like a lady looks like a dude. She’s never looked great, but WOW. This takes looking rough to a new level.

I tried to be nice, but I choked…


Dutch Word of the Day
kijken: to look

Ik keek te Eurobocht en overloofde.

I have looked at Eurotrash and survived.

The Dutch usually dress pretty well. Not horribly fussy, but very neatly. But everyone once in a while, I’ll see too huge retro-Reebooks paired with too huge glasses and a PLO scarf. Pick one! No, not two out of three. Just one.

However a lot of the time I feel like it’s not the Dutch people I’m looking at, but the tourists. This is the downside of living in the tourist heavy center if you’ve never lived in any other part of Amsterdam. You can’t tell who’s who until they open their mouth.

I didn’t blame the Dutch for the bulk of the Eurotrash fashion until I looked at this display in the window of P&C, a large department store by Dam Square. It’s a kiddie mannequin, which makes it even worse/better. I don’t know if you can make out the chain from his pocket or her leggings & boots combination. All trended out with nowhere to go. If you want your kid to look like a professional hot mess by the age of 12, this is the place to shop.


The More You Know: Everything you own in a gracht to the left

Dutch Word of the Day
het bocht: the trash
Het is tijd uit het bocht nemen!
It’s time to take out the trash!

Grachten (city canals in Amsterdam) can become quite filthy. They aren’t safe to swim in at all, except for the ducks, and it’s really quite nice to see them moving in pairs in the springtime. I can’t wait until we get some ducklings on the scene. That’ll be too adorable.

They’ll drag the grachten a few times a year and find hundreds of rusting bicycles below the surface. I was musing on the canal related suicide/murder rate before, but I still haven’t asked around. (I’ll ask my Dutch professor later.) Once in a while, I’ll forget to take out the garbarge and I’m very tempted to hurl it in the gracht. But there are houseboats around and I’d feel bad about polluting someone’s home.

However, there are certain things worthy of a gracht burial that can’t wait for garbage day.

Last night, I was having a nice thorough room clean when I stumbled upon a ring from a rather undesirable ex. (Cue violins? Kazoos? I dunno.) How it made it from America to here, Lord only knows. Could’ve sworn I left it at home. I didn’t want the thing lingering in my garbage can until Thursday because I had already took out the trash for Sunday night. What’s an American in Holland to do?

So I put on my jacket, took a little walk and flicked it into Leliegracht that’s around the corner from me. There aren’t any houseboats there, and I’m sure the ducks were asleep somewhere else.

I recommend this very cathartic activity to anyone with small, irritating objects that they can’t seem to shake. (Except for objects such as whiny children and bitchy cats. Well, maybe those, too.) It’ll make you feel great.

Maybe I’ll ask him about how much jewelry’s in there, too.

Onhandig II: Supermarket

Dutch Word of the Day
een ander:

Een ander woord voor onhandig is vreeind.
Another word for awkward is…awkward.

My bankcard doesn’t work at the supermarket. Even if it did, I’d get some kind of fine from the bank for using the card overseas. So I have to have the right amount of cash when I go to “La Heijn.“

Of course, I was two euros short and had to leave behind Fanta…but I did get mango sorbet. So. Delicious. It also must’ve looked weird that I was buying a mango and mango flavored tea. I didn’t realize I had hit the trifecta of flavor obsession this until I was at the counter.

Albert Heijn is the most over represented grocery store in the world. It is to Amsteram as Duane Reade is to New York. Dirk van de Broek is much cheaper, but I’ve only seen two so far in the center. It’s not open on Sunday and is so far from where I leave that buying too much there is rather taxing on my back. I wonder if they have a slogan for Albert Heijn. Something to the effect of “walk in a line, find a Heijn” seems appropriate.

Banco Popular II: The Evidence

Dutch Word of the Day
geld: bank
Dit geld is Spaans.
This bank is Spanish.

Told ya’. Clearly, this is not the same Banco Popular that’s all over the boroughs and Puerto Rico, but it is a Banco Popular. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. All I need to find is the European equivalent of Tropical Fantasy and Dr. Jay’s and I’m in business.


I saw a “BANCO POPULAR” sign a few blocks from me today. Pictures coming soon.


Amsterdam Got Too Typical Today:

  • Teacher absent from class
  • Class hosted by guest speakers with smug sense of superiority over the US
  • Caught in a 10 minute ice storm
  • Got ice on my frites (met mayonaisse) during this storm
  • Stalked by a drug addict mumbling in Dutch for three blocks*
  • Hid in Albert Heijn to avoid the drug addict cause I didn’t want him to know where I go to school

Damn. Damn. Damn. I’ll probably get hit by a bike and a tram on the way home. Then fall into a gracht.

*Yeah, the drug addict thing was actually quite scary. The funny part is as he kept following me from across the street I was listening to “Natural Anthem” by The Postal Service on my iPod. For those of you who’ve heard this song, you know that it has this strange, gradual build in tempo and becomes quicker and more frantic. On the one hand, it made me more panicky, but on the other hand it was rather cinematic. But I was out in broad daylight with tons of people around. And it’s impossible to successfully stalk someone in Albert Heijn. Think I’ll take the tram on my way back home, though.

In like a lion, out like a kicking screaming son of a bitch

Dutch Word of the Day
weten: to know
Ik weet het niet.
I don’t know.

You’d think March in Amsterdam would be hell, yes? It was nice for the first half, but for the past two days it decided to get special, so I suppose that adds to the March-like capriciousness.

It hasn’t been raining/snowing as much as showering painful, chunks of ice like shards of glass without warning. I tried to go to the filmmuseum by Vondelpark today. It was sunny until I got to the Anne Frank house (not that far from me at all) and this ominous cloud appeared and nature’s shards of glass were in my face. It was terrifying. People were running for shelter. At one point today I went into the Rijksmuseum just for warmth. Good thing I got in free with my museum pass.

In other news: Pancakes and Booze and Bad Pop Music on the Prinsegracht next Thursday. I’m planning a whole array of dessert pancakes. Think Powdered Sugar, Jam, Syrup, and Cracktella (!!!) I’m very excited for this.

For those of you in Amherst, fear not. I will bring this party back to the States.

Basmati Rice 2.0

Dutch Word of the Day
beter: better
Je moet toelaten het beter wordt.
You must admit it’s getting better.

It really is. This a much better . The chicken, seasoned for a longer period of time, is much improved. I’m really going to miss being able to make my own food next year. I haven’t been sick since I left school. I was afraid that my stomach would have another terrible adjustment period, but it’s been good. Going back to Valentine is going to be terrible.

For the first time in my life, I’m actually cleaning the plate.

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under

Dutch Word of the Day
duwen: push
Niet duwen mij, daar ik ben vlakbij de scheperte…
Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge…

Like many of their Western European counterparts (i.e. the English, the French), the Dutch often labor under the delusion that they are living in New York in the 1980’s. As a result, there are random spots of graffiti around town. I found a wall containing this keffiyeh wearing Anne Frank near the Jordaan.

Not quite sure how I feel about this one. It’s hard to tell whether they’re commenting on how the scarf is an overused fashion statement around here, or statement about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Kind of weird to put her in the PLO, isn’t it? Um, she’s 12.

Oh, Dutch Class

Best. Dutch Class. Ever.

The Professor shows up mad late, clearly a little buzzed from this school reception thing before hand, and they usually keep the wine going. He’s just laughing like, “Whoops…yeah, you had a quiz today. Sorry I’m late! OK…for today the class will just be the quiz, and then we’ll head out for drinks!” And then we went to this bar and he was like, “First round on me!”

See, in the Netherlands, it’s all good. In the US, an investigation would ensue.

And Now, A Public Service Announcement

Dutch Word of the Day
: to take

The Nederlanders zijn onze musicals nemen! The Dutch are taking our musicals!

Dear Holland,
Stop stealing Broadway musicals. Don’t you have your own? And when you do steal, please steal something better than Cats. Honestly, what’s next? The Scarlet Pimpernel? At least you took the rights to The Wiz. That’s a step in the right direction.

Cooking Adventures II: Curry Chicken and Basmati Rice

Second Food Entry of the Day, but that’s aight. This came out better than I thought it would. The rice especially, cause I added in coconut milk, basil and a cinnamon stick. It was amazing. The chicken could’ve been better, but it’s hard to do chicken justice when you haven’t got an oven.

I really wish I could bake. I’m considering a Pancake and Booze party on an upcoming Thursday or Friday. Stay tuned. This is an idea that will probably come back to Amherst as well.

On a completely different note, the longer I stay here the more junkies I see, especially by the Henrikkade where I have class. I saw some guy with a purple beard today. Sometimes, Amsterdam can be such a problem.

March 2007
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