Monday, 23 December 2013

Mysteries of the Netherlands

Why oh why does icing sugar only come in small pots in the Netherlands, pots that I associate with sprinkling on pancakes? Why doesn't the texture match that of the big bags of icing sugar you can buy in England? Seriously, what is that about? The Dutch like to bake, in fact their sweet delicacies line bakeries across the land. So why is there such a lack of baking products in the supermarkets?

Photo Credit: Michal Zacharzewski
Like bicarbonate of soda. Expat forums are alight with questions about where you can buy bicarbonate of soda. Answers usually involve the cleaning section of specific supermarkets, eco shops or expat shops. Why? Why do I have to stock up on this in England in order to make gingerbread when I am back in the Netherlands? What do the Dutch use instead?

And why is lamb so rare and expensive here in the Netherlands but when you go to an English supermarket much of the lamb is imported from…wait for it….. yes, the Netherlands. Same with bacon. And parsnips. I have to scour the country at Christmas time for parsnips yet when I'm in the vegetable section in Tesco in Cornwall the parsnips there are imported from the land of the Dutch. What the hell is that about?

And don't get me started about garam masala.

And why can you only buy oven gloves in sets of one here. I have two hands. In England oven gloves come sewn together to cover both hands. One of my hands is not made of asbestos. Obviously the answer is buy two… but why don't they come as a package deal? What am I missing?

I'm not complaining…. I'm just wondering. Honest…….

What other absent items mystify you about the Netherlands?


  1. baking soda: try "bakpoeder" (even Lidl sells it), or use self raising flour.
    Nearly the same thing

    Parsnips: yes a definite lack here. I grow my own ;) (Albert Heijn usually has them)

    Icing sugar: Dutch people don't do icing (roll on) or buttercream on cakes, so we don't use much icing sugar.
    We do sprinkle it on our "oliebollen" so that's why it is packed the way it is.

    As for things we DO have that is nearly impossible to buy abroad: unsalted butter that is inexpensive, 'stroop' (golden syrup just isn't the same)

    But online buying does make life easier

  2. I so feel you!! but then sort of the other way around lol.. im a dutchie living in Spain and I have my family sending me stuff which are either impossible to get or crazy expensive in expat shops... the icing sugar annoys me as well .. same in spain, only small pots.. greets Jany