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heel pittig food in holland
By Dennis Batchelder 20 March 1999

first the facts on the netherlands:

The people of the Netherlands speak Dutch. So do the Belgians. Belgians who speak Dutch are called Flemish. Most of the people of the Netherlands are called Hollanders. And the three countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg are referred to as "Benelux".

Benelux is the most populous area of Europe. Its density of population is about the same as the New York/New Jersey area. And the traffic rivals Washington's.

The Dutch language is very similar to Deutsch (German). At least, the words sound the same. But they're spelled differently - in Dutch, you use a lot of double letters like AA, OO, II. But many of the words are the same. Like, flower in German is "blumen", and in Dutch it's "bloemen".


Now the story (they all revolve around food - sorry, but it's either that or the show):

We had dinner with one of Ingmar's distributors - a nice guy named Remco. To me, that sounded like the name of his business. Ingmar, Mohan, and Regine were there as well. Anyway, we went to this local Dutch restaurant in Appledorn, a small town on the east side of the Netherlands.

I told Remco that my past experiences with Dutch food had been bad, and that I needed help in choosing a suitable dish. He asked me what I liked, and I said spicy food. So he suggested that I look on the menu for the word "pittig", which is the Dutch word for spicy.

No pittig on the menu. However, I found this soup called Zacht Kurreysoeppen - "mild curry soup". That sounded good - if they could do "pittig" instead of "zacht", I'd be very happy.

So I asked for "pittig kurreysouppen". And I received a blank look, followed by a long, long question that made absolutely no sense to me. Remco helped out - was i sure that I wanted the soup made pittig? Ja, I said. Yes, yes, yes.

So, outen comes the soeppen, and it was niet pittig. In fact, it was very mild. Since I don't taste spices very well (so why do I like them? i'm not sure), I asked Regine to taste my soup. She also said it was not spicy, and asked the waiter to take it back and make it pittig.

Everyone at the table is waiting for my soup - the Europeans are very polite this way. Nobody eats or drinks until everyone is served. So we waited, but the conversation was strained. When the waiter returned with the soup, everyone cheered up. The waiter and my tablemates watched me closely as I tasted the new bowl of soup...

...and cringed when I pronounced it "niet pittig". The waiter winced, and then suggested that he bring out the pepper directly to the table, so I could spice it myself.

Now he was talking. Ja, ja, ja - bring it right out, please! Everyone else was getting so hungry - they were all saying "ja, ja, ja", plus other Dutch words, to the waiter.

And we waited. Still no pepper. Finally, the waiter returns with this gigantic wooded pepper mill. And I mean GIGANTIC. This thing was at least 5 feet long, and a foot in diameter. The waiter lugged it out and onto the table, and held it over my bowl. "Say when".

Now the whole restaurant is watching. People are pointing at the pepper mill, smiling at the situation.

The waiter gives a single turn on the mill. The pepper flakes look like falling snow - or a blizzard. My soup turns black. I say "when", and the waiter hefts the pepper mill off the table, and it thuds on the floor.

I stir my soup. Everyone in the place is waiting with bated breath. I scoop up a spoonful, and taste it gingerly. Then I smile. "Heel pittig" I say. "Heel goed, too". Spicy, and good, too.

The room breaks out in applause. The waiter smiles. My tablemates pick up their own spoons and start eating. And I enjoy my soup.


heel pittig food in holland - holland