Photoset Maastricht: Daytime, Nighttime Nov 2013
Some of these aren’t edited yet…
Reading about airports, realizing I have not visited any airports in the past 1.5 years… the longest duration without air travel since I turned 16…– I miss plane food
Facebook you have over-developed your artificial fusiform face area, congratulations
It’s raining and the temp dropped to a single digit so I’m just going to hide under my blanket, read and let my rice cooker cook my congee and humidify the room
I’m a cat person. a dog-loving cat person.
Dutch “ui” is often a parallel of German’s “äu/eu” (pronounced “oi”), but pronounced more like saying “ai” in Indonesian BUT with your lips rounded like saying “e-o”. Of course my automatic brain always reads it as “ui” like “sweeeeet”. WRRRRONG– Good job on agreeing to use Latin letters, TOO BAD they forgot to make an universal agreement on how to pronounce the vowels. -.-” my brain breaks apart.
Thank you, little Charlie! :)
Monday sucks less already Charlie thank you
So today I submitted my paper and went to the big, fancy grocery store in the nearby mall. I am visiting my dad’s relative who lives in Utrecht tomorrow, so I’m buying fruits and chocolate to take as a gift.
And boy did I spend such a long time looking at products. I LOVE LOOKING AT FOOD PRODUCTS. I don’t speak dutch and packaging very rarely provide an English version, but most of the time I can tell what the description means by repeating the keywords in my head several times and guessing the similar German/English word. Grocery shopping is fun when you don’t speak the language, it’s like a detective game.
Here’s what I observer so far: if grocery stores in Germany are stocked with chocolate and Gebäck (spritz cookies and the like), in the Netherlands bon-bons, toffees, licorice, and especially wine gums are pretty big deal. Haribo does not quite dominate the market here, instead there’s a brand called Red Band that has about 20 varieties of wine gums displayed in one aisle, and some other varieties from smaller brands around it.
(The yellow bag at the bottom row is called Roomboterwafels, waffel-shaped hard candy with butter flavor. Made with REAL BUTTER. I bought it because #YOLOIM (you only live once in Maastricht) and hey, it actually tastes pretty good.)
Some of the snacks the Dutch are so fond of, based on my superficial observation after 2 months living here, include:
1) wafels (the sweet sugar waffles, the belgian chocolate-covered waffles, the stroopwafels)
2) wine gums
3) salty, spicy licorice (I tried it once because #YOLO, hated it, NEVER AGAIN.) They even had wine gums that are half-licorice. WHY would you do that. It’s like honey and poison served on the same spoon.
4) Fries with mayonnaise, Dutch mayonnaise to be specific, and “fries sauce”
5) all kinds of deep fried croquettes
6) Chocolate letters? This one I didn’t quite get.
(what you see in all candy stores/chocolate aisles.)
I first saw smaller letters and thought, oh, nice that they can put chocolate initials on a cake. But no, these chocolates come in bigger sizes too. Nibbling on 150 grams of chocolate seems much more enjoyable when it is shaped like your initials. These look like the wooden letter/number you put on your front gate to mark your house number in Indonesia at least. I imagine myself chewing on my house number.
So apparently if you leave carrots for the raindeer in your shoes the night before, Sinterklaas leaves chocolate letters in your shoes a day after Christmas. (What a trade-off. I give you healthy produce, you give me junk food??). Well at least sell the chocolates in special stores. Imagine a kid asking, “Mommy, why do we have to wait for Sinterklaas if we can just get chocolate letters from the supermarket?”
Also since my initial is L, I assume that I would get less chocolate than my sister, whose initial is M :(
I thought the US was crazy enough to display Christmas stuff right after Halloween, and Valentine stuff right after Christmas, and Easter stuff right after Valentine, but here they have also stocked all kinds of Sinterklaas chocolates. In October. What’s crazier, there’s Zwarte Piet.
I grew up knowing who/what Zwarte Piet is, because the Dutch culture got inter-mixed with the Indonesian culture (in ways that are also interesting to observe here in the Netherlands). There was a picture of 2-year old me being held by a Zwarte Piet. They help Santa distribute gifts and punish the bad kids by putting them in the sack, if I remember it correctly. I was nice and cute so the Zwarte Piet did not put me in the sack *cough*.
Interestingly, this year there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the figure of the Zwarte Piet because, OF COURSE, it is racist.
(some of the chocolate figures I observed).
The UN has condemned the tradition of the “black Pete”, claiming it dates back to the old days of slavery and colonialism and will only perpetuate prejudice. Tradition has it that Pete helps Sinterklaas, because Sinterklaas freed them from slavery. So it’s an anti-slavery symbol, which is a good thing, right? Not reeeeeally, it just means “lucky black people who were free because a mythical white nice savior freed them”, and not because people should never be slaves in the first place (especially when, you know, you’re one of the last countries to give up slavery *cough*).
Later on the tradition was “softened” by the claim that he is “black” because he slid down the chimney to deliver gifts and got covered in ashes. But why does he always have a black afro and a Surinamese accent? Or, why did he have time to change his clothes, but no time to wash his face? Clean water shortage? Come on, you know it, he’s African.
Some Dutch people support the abolishment of this tradition, but some others who are pro-“heritage preservation” argued that Zwarte Piet is not a bad character, so this representation is harmless. As Christmas comes near, it would be interesting to follow where this argument is going.
I personally do think the tradition is racist, it doesn’t help that instead of celebrating “multiculturalism”/inclusion of black people in society or whatever they claimed it to be, it’s again the Dutch white people who put on “blackface” and act “African”, something the Americans and the British have abandoned many, many years ago. Offensive and tasteless. And no, you can’t say it’s “harmless” if you’re white and don’t ever experience prejudice.
Apparently festival organizers have experimented with “piets” painted in colors of the rainbow instead of black, and the kids, being innocent kids, do not mind. The adults, however, think it’s “not tradition”. They cling to their childhood memories. “I grew up with this tradition! Think about the kids who have to live without this tradition!” Seriously? They should just change Piets to white guys or elves with some smears of ashes on his cheeks, how hard could it be really? IMHO, having colorful Piets actually would make your tradition unique. Original. Harmless.
I have never seen a country so divided on a Christmas tradition before, and even on Tumblr you will see a 50-50 split of alternating “racism”/”not racism” opinions. If the Netherlands really want to call themselves “the most tolerant country in the world”, they should be more open to change and consider other point of views. Do you even still have chimneys? WHY DIDN’T YOU KEEP CHIMNEYS THEN, IT’S TRADITION. Just because it is tradition doesn’t mean it could not progress into something better. The whole world is looking at you.
and a longer, more comprehensive one on Slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/holidays/2011/12/zwarte_piet_holland_s_favorite_racist_christmas_tradition_.html
Anyways, to conclude this post, I knew it was time to go home when I saw this, and decide I’ve looked at too many products:
(Of course they would have chocolate letters with Zwarte Piet on it.)
This is what I meant by “final exam in the convention hall with hundreds of other students.”
Quite a new experience.
I haven’t been in a place so crowded yet so silent, as hundreds of brains are being “squeezed” for stored knowledge in psychology, law, and economics at the same time.
Just submitted my final paper, which means I’m DONE with the first period. (out of 6.) and with 2/7 of my grad courses. YAAAARRRR.– NOW EAT EAT EAT
#Maastricht inner city library, October 2013 (at Maastricht University Inner City Library)
The Faces of Waffles The Corgi:
- Happy Yawn
- Squishy Face
What a versatile pet.
Via OCD: Obsessive Corgi Disorder
As I enter the biannual/triannual “if you need to know absolutely everything about a subject for a week make sure it is THIS week” Finals week in Maastricht, I spend a lot more time in my room.
Messy. A bit. But I think it’s very cozy. While students here wait in front of the library before opening hours and rushed in to get a table before the exam week, I think I’m OK with staying in my room and studying in my jammies.
Here’s an assignment I did for the cognitive psychology class: Mind Map summary of theories/experiments we learned in the past 2 months.
The exams will be on 2 consecutive days, where we have to go to the convention center across the river and sit in this HUGE hall with hundreds of other students from different faculties and courses. Starts at 9 AM. Can’t be one minute late— they will fail you, and make you retake the test next year.
That’s it for this week. Wish me luck!
Roasted brussels sprouts, seasoned with olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, a bit of oyster sauce and minced garlic and rockets. So good.
I’m swimming in vitamin K.