Time flies and I have been already 1,5 months in Breda. The autumn has finally started here also, but luckily it has been beautiful weather most of the time. I actually like the fresh autumn air, and darker evenings. Feels like a fresh start after the long summer. I wrote some first impressions from the life in Breda few weeks a go in the Postcard from Netherlands -post, and today I am writing a second card. Last time I wrote about amazing things (and few less amazing), but today I am sharing more little things, which have catch my attention lately. And actually most of the things I am sharing with you today, are somehow food related. But as I am a foodie, it is a topic I give a lot attention in my life and see the differences easily.
NO FAST FOOD. I have realized that it is surprisingly hard to just to grab example lunch fast from the nice places. And with nice place I am now referring to everything else than McDonald. There are so many nice places offering for lunch toasts, soup and salads, but it is almost impossible to find a place where they offer take away also, or have fresh sandwiches ready, so you just choose one and continue. I generally think that people should eat more slowly, spend more time together and make lunch also a nice moment, and for these the system here works perfectly. But you know, sometimes you just want to grab something fast and not spend few hours for lunch.
BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. So ok, I don`t know if it is the genes or what is going on here, but EVERYONE looks just perfect. Tall, thin and so stylish! I feel like I am in the land of perfect looking people, and I should go for a full makeover. Hahah! We have been laughing with my friends how the families look like they have run out from TV-commercial, as they are so beautiful! I admire how everyone looks so stylish, healthy and happy. And I think I can count with one hand fingers all the overweight people I have seen the past weeks. Believe or not, people here looks super healthy! Maybe it is the biking, maybe it is something else, but it is working!
YEAST. I love baking, and when I am cooking I try to do everything from a scratch if possible. And for me this means making example pizza dough, bread every now and then and some pastry. Because of this, I use fresh yeast a lot, and it is something I can buy in Finland from every supermarket with less than 0.50€. So imagine the moment when I go to the supermarket and they think I am some kind of crazy lady, because I am asking fresh yeast. Yeas, the +50 years old lady working in the supermarket told me she had never used it, nor did she know where to buy it. She simply could not understand why someone would need it. Same happened with one granny I was talking about this in the supermarket, but also with my local friends. Luckily in the end I did find one supermarket in Breda selling fresh yeast, so it is not a problem anymore for me, just strange!
SERVICE. I did comment a little already last time how polite and nice people here are. But I want to talk about service little more. I have never in my life got so good service than I have got here. And now I am not speaking about good service as being polite, but to taking it to totally next level. It is not once or twice I have not find something I was looking for from the shop, and the staff has instructed me to go to some other shop. They don`t see it as a competition if I go somewhere else (like they do in Finland), but they are genuinely helping you out. Even in the restaurants this has happened, as example once we could not find anything suitable for my friend with strict diet, so the owner told us where to go instead. And I could tell you so many other examples, but then you would be reading this till end of next year, haha!
ORGANIC EGGS. So let`s talk about eggs little. I use eggs a lot, like really a lot. And I have been using organic eggs now for some years. In Finland, the organic eggs (if you buy them form supermarket) look perfect and identical. And I never actually thought about this, until I came here. Here you buy organic eggs from a supermarket and they are all different. Little different in size, and definitely not identical. This might be a stupid notion for most, but I started to think the eggs a lot after this. Because eggs should not be perfectly same, especially in my opinion when they are organic. So what is it that is different in Finland and here in the egg production, just wondering!
OPENING HOURS. Everything is open so differently here than in Finland. And I feel I am still not totally getting the system. Sundays example many supermarkets are closed, or they are open only for a short time. But then most of the other shops are open all day, and there is a lot people shopping in small shops in the center. However when it is Monday, many smaller shops are not open, or open later in the afternoon, but supermarkets are open from morning to evening. And then there is Thursday, which is some kind of official shopping and going out day in Breda. Most of the shops are open even till 21.00 and the city is full of people. Bars are open till 4am or later, and last people go home when others wake up for work. And if we start to talk about cafe places and restaurants, the system gets even more messed up, as example Saturdays many nice cafe places close already at 17.00. Why? Yeah, and then there is the bakeries. In Finland bakeries open super early, and you can get fresh things easily before 7am. Here I have been out before 8am and hoping to get something fresh from a bakery on my way, but no no. They are mostly opening 9am or so..again asking why?
DUTCH LUNCH. In Finland we mainly eat two hot meals a day. The schools and lunch places offer hot meals, and it is less common to eat example only bread for lunch. Here it is totally opposite. I feel it is extremely hard to find decent hot meal for lunch here, and people mainly eat toasts, bread or something small like that. Salad and soups you can find, but I feel the soups are super small, and salad not that fulfilling as they are in Finland. I struggle with this especially in long school days, as I just cant survive all day with bread or small soup. A lot snack carrying happening every day, girl gotta eat right?
FRENCH FRIES. There is somethings totally strange going on with Dutch people and french fries. Or am I supposed to call them Dutch fries? Whatever you call them, they are everywhere! There are a lot places you can buy only fries, and many times in the restaurant people order extra fries. And now I don`t mean extra portion, but you example order meat with side dish, and then as a extra also fries. I went to eat on a nice restaurant, and got fries as a extra side dish, which made no sense when I think what I was eating. The only good thing is, that many times the fries are hand made, and taste better than any other fries you have had in your life.
WHOLE FAMILY. Just like in Italy, also in Netherlands the whole family goes out together. It is totally normal to see people sitting in a terrace, or restaurant with their dog. This so rarely happens in Finland, especially inside the restaurants. I actually like this a lot as he/she is part of the family, and after staying home alone long day (while people are working) you don`t want to leave again for some hours your family member alone. And when it comes to children, there is no problem taking them with you, when you go for a drink with your friends. I saw just yesterday two couples in a bar/restaurant, and both had a baby under one years old with them. Tey all took a glass of beer/wine together with their snacks and had a nice conversation. Nothing strange, just a normal Sunday. I know in Finland this is totally appropriate, but I think it has more to do with the alcohol culture.
STREET ART. I have fallen in love with street art already in Italy many years a go. It is something I am missing in Finland, as I feel it is nice way to give little something extra to the city. I never thought Breda would be so full of street art as it is, and full of so good art! There are so many AMAZING works around the city, and more is coming all the time. Last week we met group of Finnish artists in Breda doing new murals, what a funny coincidence. I will be writing about this more later, stay tuned!
ENGLISH. I have admired how so many people here is talking good English. Even the old lady, same age as my grandmother, in the supermatker was speaking so good English, we ended u having a full conversation with her. But then if we start to talk about written English the story is totally different. Me and lady A visited example Breda city museum, and no single word was written in English. And that is not only place I have experienced this. I can understand if example restaurant does not have English menu, but places where also other than locals and domestic tourists visit, it would be highly important to have English signs also. This also is case when it comes to ingredient list in food. It takes surprisingly long time to do your groceries when no single word is written in English. Thank god for translators!
HAVE A MINT. Most of the restaurants give you mint pastil, or small candy together with your check. First I was not sure what to think about this, but after eating something with a strong flavor it is actually nice to have that small mint. However you should know there is a huge difference between the restaurants. We once got super strange sugar candy kind of things (really don`t know how to describe them), and sometimes you get actually nice and fresh pastil. This is something I think in Finland would be seen only as a extra cost, but here I kind of appreciate it.
Remember to keep your eyes open every day, as we tend to become little passive in our every day environment. I have got a lot positive feedback from locals, as I have somehow managed to show “new” details from Breda to them in my blog. So next time you step out, try a new street, new cafe place or visit that attraction you see every now and then, but never seem to have time to visit.