Recipe: Traditional Dutch Pancakes

Have you already tried the Dutch pancake? This whole-pan size pancake is much thinner than the traditional American pancakes (but not as thin as the French crepes) and tastes amazing! You can use both sweet and savory toppings to make your Dutch pancakes even more delicious.

Buy the following cheap ingredients for the batter (2-3 persons):

  • 2 eggs
  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 250 grams of flour
  • Butter, for cooking
  • Toppings of your choice

Examples of sweet fillings and toppings:

  • Apple, raisins, and cinnamon
  • Red fruits and mint

Examples of savory fillings and toppings:

  • Cheese, bacon, chorizo

Follow these 4 easy steps to make the perfect Dutch pancakes in only 30 min:

  1. Beat the egg in a large bowl until slightly foamy. Add the milk and salt and mix these ingredients all together. Slowly add the flour and mix again until the batter is smooth.
  2. Heat a 10-inch cooking pan over medium heat. Add a little butter to the pan.
  3. Add 0,5 cup of batter to the pan and swirl it around to coat the pan (now add any filling you like over the batter). Cook the pancake over medium for 3-4 min until it is just getting dry on the top and releases from the pan.
  4. Remove the pancake from the pan and place on a platter. Tip: Keep your pancake by placing them in a warm oven.
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Mysteries of Utrecht #3: The Wharf cellars

We all know Utrecht is ridiculously pretty. We gaze upon its beauty every single day. At a certain point you just get spoiled by the gorgeous canals and the beautiful houses. The world recognizes Utrecht by its canals. In 2015, the Australian website News.com.au said Utrecht has the most beautiful canals in the world. Utrecht beats Venice, Brugge, St. Petersburg and Amsterdam when it comes to the canals.

What makes the canals in Utrecht so special?

One thing in particular makes Utrecht stand out; their famous wharf cellars. Utrecht is the only city in the world who has these. These wharf cellars make Utrecht unique. But why are these cellars so special?

The first wharf cellars were made in 1150 and therefor extremely old. This day Utrecht counts 732 (!) of these cellars. Right now, you know them mainly as restaurants, shops, or if you’re very lucky, your house. But originally, they were used for storage. It was a very smart and easy way to supply Utrecht with its every need.

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The first cellar was made by an unknown businessman who originally wanted to create a tunnel from his home cellar to the canals of Utrecht. Others took over this idea and the tunnels were getting wider and wider and that’s how the cellars turned into storages. The cellars were very convenient and saved a lot of carrying and lifting.

These cellars and canals created the middle-aged city harbour of Utrecht.

Why did no other city used this concept??

The water level in Utrecht is exceptionally low. This is because of a dam in the river Rijn close to Wijk van Duurstede (A neighbourhood in Utrecht).

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The evolution of the canals and wharfs

‘Till the end of the nineteenth century, the wharfs in Utrecht were extremely important. But when the traffic on land became more evolved and more important, the wharfs were of no use anymore and became neglected. This happened because all the cellars had different owners. The cellars were part of the home and renovating them was very hard and really expensive. This was because you would have to work the wharfs too.

After the second world war, in 1948, the city of Utrecht got ownership of the wharfs and started renovating the wharfs, which made it much more attractive for owners to clean up the cellars. This is how Utrecht’s canals became the most beautiful in the world.

The renovation of today

You might have noticed that they’re still working on the canals. In 2009, Utrecht decided to renovate the canals once more. They had to be restored, but remain the same feeling of the good ol’ days. The City council decided to put 35 million euros into the renovation, but right now the costs have gone up to 47,5 million (!). That seems excessive, but hey… If you want to be and stay the beautiful canal city in the world, you have to be willing to pay a little…

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Modern use of a wharf cellar, on the inside. The canal can be seen on the outside.

How to survive the Dutch weather? 5 tips and tricks

When you live in The Netherlands, you have little to complain about. You can bike where ever you want, you can find a coffee shop in basically every neighborhood of the city and you can celebrate several Dutch traditions like Sinterklaas. There’s only one thing… The weather. Whether it’s spring, summer, autumn or winter, it rains a lot in this country. In this blogpost we provide you 5 tips to survive the Dutch weather – because yes, that’s possible (kind of)!

  1. Check a reliable weather app before leaving your house

You definitely won’t regret downloading either the Buienradar or WeerOnline app. These apps show you when it will be raining or not. Check these apps before you leave your house or when you want to plan an outside activity. This is a convenient way to avoid walking or biking in the rain (unless it rains all day, of course).

  1. Buy a wind-proof umbrella

These umbrellas are not cheap, but they last for a long time and are made to protect you from rain and wind. Win-win!

  1. Complain about the weather to start a conversation with a nice Dutchie

Do you see a nice looking Dutchie and you don’t know how to approach him or her? Start talking (e.g. complaining) about the weather! Dutchies are used to complain about the weather, so this is a perfect ice breaker to start a conversation ;-).

  1. Wear the right clothes that protect you from rain

In shops like Hema and Action you can buy actual rain jackets and trousers, that you can wear over your normal clothes. This doesn’t look very appealing –  but hey, you won’t arrive completely soaked at your planned destination!

  1. Accept the shitty weather and stay happy!

Especially when we haven’t seen the sun in a long time, our mood can change immediately when we look outside and see the typical Dutch weather. Make sure to take enough vitamin D (not from the sun, but from a capsule in a jar) and try to stay happy. In the end, The Netherlands is a pretty cool country to live in!

How do you survive the Dutch weather? Leave a comment in the comment section below to let us know!

The unraveling of 6 typical Dutch words (which don’t exist in English)

How many times have you heard people talking Dutch to each other, without having any idea what they are talking about? Probably one of the reasons why you didn’t understand anything is because the Dutch use a lot of words which don’t exist in English. After reading this article, you will know the meaning of 6 Dutch words which people use a lot in everyday conversations.

Gezellig

Although gezellig literally means cosy, for the Dutch this word represents way more than that. Dutchies use this word when they are having a fun, amicable and exciting time with friends or family.

Hè hè

This is a short exhalation that people mostly use when they want to express comfort, satisfaction or relief, for example after completing a busy day at work or a good work out at the gym.

Lekker

Tasty food is commonly called lekker, but Dutchies use this adjective also when they see attractive people or well-made clothing. Even when they had a good night of sleep, they say ‘ik heb lekker geslapen.’

Borrel

In English you would say borrel means aperitif, but it’s actually a word used for informal gatherings at bars (which could take place before or after dinner). On Fridays, many employers organize after work drinks at their offices known as vrijmibo (vrijdagmiddagborrel).

Uitbuiken

After the Dutch ate a delicious, filling meal they go ‘uitbuiken’. This literally means ‘outbellying’ in English, but Dutchies use this verb to express they need time to relax after eating a filling meal.

Op Die Fiets

This idiom barely makes any sense, because it literally means ‘on that bike’. But the Dutch use it in a way to say ‘Oh, now I understand how that happened’.

Which Dutch word appears the most strange to you? Let us know in the comment section below!

And the cheapest supermarket in Utrecht is…

We all want to spend the least amount of money possible while we do our grocery shopping, right? But it is not always the easiest task. You are bounded by what are the closest supermarkets, prices change all the time, and just one supermarket might have some products that are cheaper and some that are more expensive, when compared to others. To complicate things further, since lots of times supermarkets are franchises (they use the main house name and follow some rules, but each store is run independently and can decide on some prices), the prices can vary across stores of the same chain; usually things will be more expensive outside of the city, where competition is less fierce. On top of this, sometimes the absolute cheapest things are of really terrible quality, so, if you are like me and want to have a good price-quality balance, it can really be puzzling.

Chain supermarkets, like Jumbo and Albert Heijn, are nice because you can buy all your food in one go, both the fresh food, like meat and vegetables, and the dried and canned food, like rice and tomato. You can also find the brands you are used to. So, while markets and Turkish shops are sometimes better and, oftentimes, cheaper options, we will compare some chain supermarkets so you can make an informed decision the next time you have to decide where to go!

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How can we compare supermarket prices?

When we compare prices across supermarkets, the easiest strategy is to compare branded products of the same size and type, for example how much a 33cl. can of Pepsi costs, and this can be a good indicator of how supermarkets fare against each other. However, there are a few caveats that we must look at. Firstly, most chains have the same big brand suppliers, and, since these are the products that are easiest to compare, they might cost the same across all stores where they are placed. Secondly, because not all chains, or even stores, sell the same branded products, it can get hard to compare them. For example, in one store you might find only Coke, and on another only Pepsi.

Finally, because these are usually the cheapest, the most interesting and difficult products to compare are house brands. This is hard for several reasons: since the producers and suppliers of house brands are usually different across chains, the quality and cost of production is different and how it translated into the final price is very unpredictable,  and it can also depend on how much the big brands are priced. For example, if there is a house branded rice and a rice of a big brand, even if the house brand is much cheaper for the supermarket, they cannot put their price much distinct from the big brand one, since people would either only buy the cheapest one because of that, or not buy it all because they would think it is of very bad quality. However, all chains face this problem and solve it in the same way, but my point is that it is very hard to assess the value of these sort of products.

Something that makes it extra hard to access how products from house brands compare between chains relates with what role these products play compared with big brand products, and there are three main roles. The first is to have one house brand and sensibly one alternative house product for each product, which is usually of medium quality, and is what happens, for example, at Jumbo (mostly) and Plus. You will find one Jumbo or Plus alternative to a specific type of rice, and by its side you will find the branded alternatives.

The second is to have more than one house brand for each product, of different quantities. This is what happens for example in Albert Heijn, where you find AH Basic products, normal AH products, and AH Excellent products. Although not all products have AH produce all three alternatives, many products will have at least two house options of different qualities, next to branded products. One example of a product that has all of them in AH is pizza. In Jumbo there are also some products that have two of them in Jumbo brand, and, looking at the difference in price, we assume that there are also two levels of quality, since it is not straightforward from the marketing.

The third is to have almost exclusively house products, like in Lidl, or unknown brands, like Aldi. These products tend to be a bit more expensive than medium quality house brands in other chains, because they are the only ones on sale, but also because of this they are usually of better quality.

This problem between chains is also very presents in fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, which might have different origins and there might be more than one option for each product.

There are particular ways in which you can get better prices from time to time: look at the promotions, which here are called “acties” or “aanbieding”. And in AH you can use your Bonus card to have those discounts.

This can be a good guideline for you if you wish to compare products and prices the next time you go shopping. We will give a small example to try to get an idea about which one, between Jumbo, Albert Heijn and Plus, is the best bet!

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Let’s compare prices!!

We will compare house and branded products from different chain stores that can be found around the center of Utrecht, but we will look at the online prices (these prices were consulted on 06/01/2018). Of course we can’t compare all of them in store, so this is just a taste, and prices can vary per store! We will keep in mind that, for the house brands, we will use the middle quality brand in the case of Albert Heijn, an in Jumbo as well when applicable. For the fresh vegetables, fruits and meat, we will always choose the cheapest one available. We will not compare Lidl and Alsi because their prices are not online.

Let’s look at the following shopping list:

  • 1L Coke
  • Spaghetti
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 1Kg Tomato
  • 1 Lettuce
  • 1 Loaf Brown Bread
  • Frozen 4 Cheese pizza
  • 1L Skimmed Milk (fridge)
  • 1kg Chicken Breast

For the spaghetti, we will look at the house brand and at “Grand’Itallia” as an example of a branded product. For the 4 Cheese pizza, we will do the same but use “Casa di Mama”.

The coke costs 1,56€ in Jumbo, and 1,62€ both in AH and Plus.

The house brand spaghetti costs 0,61€, 0,74€ and 0,7€ in Jumbo, AH and Plus, respectively. From “Grand’Itallia”, it costs 1,13 in the first, and 1,2€ in the last two.

Now for a fresh salad. The kilo of tomatoes costs 2,16€, 2,18€ and 2,38, in the same order. The lettuce costs 0,95€ in the first, and 0,99€ in the last two.

For your breakfast, the loaf of bruin bread costs 1,09€ in AH, and 1€ in the other two, and the liter of skimmed milk costs 1,04€ in Jumbo, 1,07€ in AH and 1,06€ in Plus.

If you like that quick frozen pizza, this is for you. In the house brand, it costs 1,99€ both in Jumbo and Plus, and 2,15 in AH, whereas for the one from “Casa di Mama” costs 2,72€ in Jumbo, and 2,89€ in the other two.

Finally, for you dinner with friends, the cheapest kilo of chicken costs 8,49€ in Jumbo, 7,76€ in AH and 7,5€ in Plus.

The total shopping list would have cost you 23,2€ in Jumbo, 23,54€ in AH, and 22,98€ in Plus.

So, what is the cheapest supermarket??

If you look at how the prices of the products compare individually, Jumbo did better in all fronts. Albert Heijn seems to be consistently the most expensive supermarket. Plus seems to fluctuate between both, being sometimes as cheap as Jumbo, and sometimes as expensive as AH, only beating both on the meat.

It is very interesting though that the cheapest in the final bill was Plus. The key is the price difference in the meat, so beware of how supermarkets compensate the lower prices in some products on other products!

So, now you have some objective comparisons between these supermarkets. If I am being honest, this matches my own experience with these supermarkets, and I still believe that Jumbo is a good choice, but mixing them if you can is of course the best.

If you want other tips to save money during your stay, check out Robin’s article.

What do you find to be the best supermarket in Utrecht? Do you agree that Jumbo is the overall cheapest supermarket? Do you have other tips to compare prices between supermarkets? Share your thoughts in the comments!

2018 bucket list for your stay in the Netherlands

First of all, the JoCo wishes you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Let’s make this year awesome!

Each year we say that we will start doing this or stop doing that. But let’s be honest, most of the time our big plans get dashed throughout the middle of January. That is why we came up with a bucket list for 2018, you really want to stick to!

Go to the Efteling

The Efteling is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. It is a fantasy themed park that features over 30 attractions spread throughout four different fantastical realms: Fairy, Adventure, Travel, and Alternative. Definitely worth a visit! 

See 8 windmills at one glance

The Zaanse Schans is famous worldwide for its eight historic windmills, which were built in the mid-to-late 16th century, and its 35 historical houses. You will even find the very first Albert Heijn among them! The attraction is easy to reach via public transport and free of entrance.

zaanse schans
ESN day trip to the Zaanse Schans in 2017

Explore Utrecht’s neighborhoods

Who says you have to go far to travel? Utrecht has way more to offer than the Oudegracht or the dom tower. So, take your camera and take a stroll through the different areas of Utrecht. You will find great cafes, restaurants, parks, street art and architecture all throughout the city! In the ESN Abroad magazine we are providing you with inside tips for each neighborhood. So check it out!

Go to an ESN cantus

Participating at a cantus is a Dutch student tradition you really don’t want to miss!  During this amazing night you will dressed up according to the theme, sing your favourite songs and drink like the Dutchies do! Afterwards you are going to have a great party at Poema! Sounds amazing right? Keep an eye on the dates on our ESN Utrecht Facebook page!
P.S. If you’re lucky, there might still be tickets available for next week’s Jungle Cantus!

ESN-cantus
Singing Lady Gaga at the ESN Halloween Cantus

Take a stroll through tulip fields

The Netherlands is famous for its tulip fields, especially those of the Keukenhof, which is the world’s second largest flower garden with approximately 7 million flower bulbs. It’s an incredible experience to walk through seemingly never ending flower fields and to discover all the different shaped and coloured tulips. The park is open each year from mid-March to mid-May.

Go ice skating

You probably already noticed that the Dutchies are crazy about their ice skating! They even have an event that is all about ice skating: De Elfstedentocht. With the help of ESN Utrecht you could tick of this point off your bucket list in no time! On the 10th of January, we will go to the indoor ice skating hall in Utrecht to have an amazing time on the ice. The best thing? The event is FOR FREE! So, head over to our FB page and hit that ‘going button’!

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Go to a music festival

The Netherlands is known for its vivid music scene. There are many cool festivals, especially during the summer months, that belong on everyone’s bucket list. It doesn’t matter if you’re into house, techno, pop, rock, hip hop or indie – the perfect festival is out there! So, head over to this page to find your ideal match!

Celebrate King’s Day

On the 27th of April, the whole Netherlands is celebrating the birthday of King Willem Alexander’s birthday! During the day, people are allowed to sell things on the street without requiring a permit. Flea (‘free’) markets are held in parks and streets, with many people offering their unwanted possessions, music or other entertainment for sale. In Utrecht, the flea markets even start the night before King’s Day. So, put on some orange clothes and experience the Netherlands like never before!

Ever ask yourself where to take someone on a first date? Or how to impress your Dutch friends/crush with a funny saying?
The JoCo knows the answers!  So, keep an eye on our blog for more!

10 Dutch sayings that don’t mean anything to you, but help you impress your Dutch friends!

Gezegde engels nederlands

Whenever you’re in a new country, it is nice to fit in with the locals. We the Dutch appreciate any effort internationals make when internationals they try to fit in. But sometimes that can be hard and you don’t know where to begin. Don’t worry! I am here to help!

The Dutch have a love/hate relationship when it comes to our own language. The grammar is a pain in the ass.  But there are certain elements we love! For instance: our sayings! Sometimes it feels just amazing when you can add a nice little saying within a conversation to emphasise, exaggerate, or just say it for the fun of it.

Now we know our language is hard. I struggle daily with some sentences, but I can’t imagine how weird and hard it must be to learn them as a foreigner. Well…We can’t make it less hard, but we can make it weirder! In this article I will translate 10 Dutch sayings in English and explain what they mean. Now keep in mind that this won’t make any sense to you, I am translating them word for word as we say it in Dutch. But if you can remember them and you tell them to a Dutchie. He or she will absolutely love you!

Here we go!

  1. “Not normal. What a Closet of a house!!”

(Out of the ordinary. What a huge house!)

  1. “Make that the cat wise!”

(I don’t believe you. Try and convince the cat!”)

  1. Congratulations, but don’t walk beside your shoes!”

(Good job, but don’t feel better then you are!”

  1. He had there clean enough from. So he gave him the wind from the front.”

(He was sick and tired, so he yelled at him)

  1. “Unfortunately peanutbutter, dude!”

(Too bad for you, dude)

  1. “Now the monkey comes out of the sleeve!”

(Now the secret has come out!”)

  1. “He laughs like a farmer with toothpain.”

(He laughs, but he is not amused at all.”)

  1. “I’ll drink you under the table!”

(I will outdrink you till you’re under the table)

  1. “Now we have the dolls on the dancing!”

(Now we are in big trouble!”)

  1. “It walks out of the claws”

(It’s getting out of hands)

Here you go! Try and memorize these gems of sayings and you will impress every Dutchie with your insane cultural knowledge!

*If you want to learn more dutch sayings, follow “Make that the cat wise” on facebook!

New Year’s Eve in Utrecht!

It’s definitely holiday time now! Most students have at least two weeks off, we’ve been hearing Christmas songs on the radio for weeks and we even had some snow! While Christmas and New Year’s Eve are coming closer, some internationals are traveling back home to celebrate these days with their families. But for those who decided to spend the Christmas break here in Utrecht, we’ll make sure you won’t be bored. We already wrote about what to do during Christmas in Utrecht and now we’ll make sure you know where to party on New Year’s Eve!

Vliegend het nieuwe jaar in!
In Bar Walden you can ‘catch a flight to 2018’. The dancing starts at 23:00 and won’t end before early in the first morning of 2018. The entrance fee is €12,50, which is not expensive for a Dutch NYE party. In addition, you can win prizes with your ‘boarding pass’.

Huisfeest NYE
Another place to celebrate the start of 2018 is the Poema. You probably know this place from the many ESN Student Nights you’ve spent there already, but it’s also famous because of the themed Huisfeesten. Huisfeest is Dutch for ‘house party’ and it’s named like this because you don’t have to pay for every drink separately. Just pay for your ticket and you can drink beer, wine and soda without searching your pockets for change the whole night. The theme of this year’s party is ‘Masquerade ball’ so make sure you’ll wear your finest mask!

House parties
Speaking of ‘house parties’, you don’t have to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a club or a bar if you don’t feel like it. In the Netherlands, a lot of people also like to throw (real) house parties to start the new year as festive as possible. It might be a bit different than a big party, but it’s much more cosy. So, contact that friend who’s throwing a house party on NYE, buy a bottle of sparkles, and celebrate!

TIKTAK NYE
TIKTAK NYE is an event that takes place in several cities. The Utrecht edition will be held in Central Studios, a very big party venue. The party starts at 22:00 and during the night, there will be several Dutch artists to entertain you. So if you can’t get enough from Dutch rappers like Broederliefde, you should definitely buy a ticket!

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