What is typically Dutch?
When visiting another country, it’s good to know one or two things about the local customs. We have listed some typical Dutch things below.
Dutch people are very straightforward
In the Netherlands, people learn to look each other in the eye when having a conversation from a very young age on. It is even considered impolite if you don’t. Dutch people also like to make very clear agreements, so it’s best for you to be very straightforward about what you’re thinking or feeling. But if you’re not used to this, then Dutch manners can seem a bit rude.
There’s a typical Dutch saying to express this attitude: ‘met de deur in huis vallen’. Literally, this refers to entering someone’s home without knocking on the door first. The English equivalent is ‘to get straight to the point’.
Crazy about ‘bitterballen’
In the Netherlands you can find food from every corner of the earth. Rotterdam, too, is home to a huge variety of restaurants. But at parties you are likely to be presented with a very Dutch, savoury kind of fingerfood called ‘bitterbal’. This translates as ‘bitter ball’, and it is round but not bitter. It is traditionally filled with a kind of meat stew, but today it comes in all sorts of (vegetarian) variants. Most cafés still serve the traditional bitterbal. In Rotterdam there’s even a newly opened Bitterballenbar nearby the main branch of Rotterdam Public Library. Here you can taste both the traditional bitterbal and more contemporary variants.
People from abroad are often taken aback by how Dutch people celebrate birthdays. The birthday party is usually held at home, and when you arrive you’ll find everyone sitting in a circle, and besides congratulating the birthday person you’re also supposed to go around and not only shake every guest’s hand, but to congratulate them too!