Gezellig: a typical Dutch non-translatable phrase

In every language there are a few words that just cannot be properly translated into the English language. Let’s have a look at the Dutch word ‘gezellig’ or ‘gezelligheid’. A phrase often used by the Dutch and therefore utterly important for your next visit!

Having a 'gezellige' time!

Having a ‘gezellige’ time!

Gezellig – which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness that gives a warm feeling. The word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture.

There are a lot of blogposts written by tourists, expats and locals about the word ‘gezellig’. Check it out if you would like to know more about ‘gezellig’!

10 prejudices about the Dutch (and the truth about them)

There are a lot of prejudices about the Dutch. Some a little bit true and some are just too much fun to take seriously. I’ve collected 10 prejudices about the Dutch and Holland and explain why they are true or false!

prejudice Europe

Dutch people are greedy
They say the Dutch are greedy. It has even lead to the term ‘Going Dutch’ that indicates that each person participating in a group activity pays for themselves, rather than any person paying for anyone else, particularly in a restaurant bill. It’s true that many Dutch people like to split the bill. It is also true that we are not great tippers abroad, mainly because we don’t have a tipping culture in Holland. 

Dutch people are the tallest in the world
Yes, we are tall. We have an average height of 1.85 meter. We might be the tallest nation on earth, but there are tribes in Africa that are even taller than us!

Dutch people are all talk and no action
To be acknowledged as a small country only talk and no action wouldn’t do the trick. Rotterdam is seen as the city with the strongest work ethic. Why? After the second world war the city was completely destroyed by bombings. Within a short amount of time they reconstructioned and modernised the city. It is now the skyline city of Holland.

Dutch people walk on wooden shoes
We’d like to walk on all kinds of shoes, but wooden shoes or clogs are usually not one of the options! Yes, there are still farmers and other people that walk in them, but it is not common at all.

Dutch people travel in groups
We like to go camping. We usually go somewhere with our own caravan and bring the entire family. But next to that we like to go on our own as well! Dutch people are quite adventurous and can be found all over the world!

Dutch people are all very, very liberal
They think Dutch people smoke weed all day long, visit the red light district often and are all pro euthanasia and abortion. It is true that these things are legalised, but it says nothing about how we deal with things. Most people don’t care about coffee shops and the opinions about life ending are very diverse.

Dutch people are very direct
Yes, we speak our minds. It is just how we interact with each other. It doesn’t mean we are being rude all the time. We just like to be clear. Our culture is not hierarchy based, so we address our employer or sometimes even parents with their first name.

Dutch people speak different languages
With only 16.7 million Dutch people we have a language that is not spoken by a lot of people. We are used to learn other languages early on. Next to Dutch we learn English, French and German at school. Some schools also teach Greek and Latin. And then there are also people in the province Friesland that speak Frisian. It’s the Dutch second official language.

Dutch people are loud
Are we? Maybe we are just very enthusiastic. 😉 I think this prejudice is true for many countries. But yes, we don’t whisper. We talk clearly!

Dutch people eat weird foods
Well, we have some atypical foods.. (have you seen our blog about the 10 Dutch foods you should try once?) That’s true! But usually we’d like to eat foods that keep us warm and feed us well. A typically Dutch plate includes meat, potatoes and vegetables.

Do you know other prejudices about the Dutch? Let me know, I am very curious!

10 Dutch foods you should try once!

Holland is not particularly famous for their kitchen. But.. we do have some great foods you should try during your next visit! Will you let me know which one you liked most?

Bitter balls
Bitter ballsMeat ragout balls covered in breadcrumbs, usually served with mustard. These snacks are served at formal and informal parties. You can order them almost everywhere! At a terrace, bar, snack bar or restaurant. 

(Gouda) Cheese
Gouda cheeseDutch people love their cheese. We are famous for dairy products and especially for cheeses. The vast majority of Dutch cheeses are semi-hard or hard cheeses. There’s a lot of choice. You can go for a neutral cheese or try a blend with herbs or spices.  How about a cheese with cloves (usually the Frisian nagelkaas), cumin (most famously Leyden cheese), or nettles?

Boerenkool with sausage
Boerenkool_stamppotCurly kale mixed with potatoes, served with gravy, mustard, and rookworst sausage. How does that sound for dinner? It is one of the oldest and most popular Dutch dishes. Boerenkool is high in carbohydrates, which makes it a popular meal for cold winter days.

Caramel/syrup waffles
syrup wafflesA true Dutch treat is the stroopwafel or caramel/syrup waffle. A thin wafer, made typically in a pizelle pan, sliced horizontally and used for sandwiching a layer of light caramel syrup. And yes, it tastes even better than it sounds!


You either love it or hate it! This famous Dutch sweet comes English liquoricein all sizes and flavours. The four types of drop are soft sweet, soft salt, hard sweet and hard salt drop. When they are flavored with coconut fondant they are called English liquorice. Other varieties are made with honey, mintsalammoniac, or laurel (laurierdrop). Typical shapes are diamonds, ovals, oblongs and as coins. 

Kapsalon from Rotterdam
kapsalonA quite new addition to Dutch fast food is the kapsalon, translated barbershop, consisting of either shawarma or döner, and with fries, salad, cheese and various sauces, all put into one take-out box. It was named after the barbershop in Rotterdam that ordered this combination of foods as a lunch. 

Vlaai from Limburg
VlaaiVlaai or Limburgse vlaai is a pie or tart consisting of a pastry and filling. Vlaai is usually 27—30 centimeters in diameter. It is available in many different varieties of fruit fillings, such as cherry, apricot, strawberries, and plums. They are often eaten on life events, such as birthdays and funerals.

Pea soup with bacon
erwtensoepErwtensoep, also called Snert, is a very thick pea soup that can be served either as a main dish or as an appetizer and is traditionally eaten during the winter and especially during ice skating. It is customarily served with rye bread spread with butter and topped with katenspek, a variety of bacon which is first cooked and then smoked. The meat from the soup may also be put on the rye bread and eaten with mustard.

Raw herring with onions
raw herringThe new herring season starts in June this year. What can you expect? Raw herring (called Hollandse nieuwe / Dutch new), optionally served together with chopped raw onions and gherkins. People eat it in a special way; lifting the herring high up into the air by its tail, and then biting into it upwards. Do not eat the little Dutch flag. 😉 Raw herring is also commonly sold in a soft white bun. 

Frikandel with peanut sauce and fries with mayonaise
Frikandel friesA Dutch fast food meal often consists of a portion of French fries with a sauce and a meat product. The most common sauce to accompany French fries is mayonnaise while others can be ketchup or hot peanut sauce. Snacks made with meat are usually deep fried, this includes the frikandel (a skinless minced meat sausage). Dip it in the peanut sauce, you’ll love it!