Imagine my surprise when the mascot at Albert Heijn (one of the local grocery stores) was staring at me creepily while I was choosing which sparkling water to purchase. I don’t know; maybe it was the wide open eyes staring back at me? Also slightly creepy is the very realistic pink nose with wrinkles..
But that will never top the satirical video that made fun of stockpiling (YouTube) last March at the height of the corona craziness. It used images from a movie, with the Albert Heijn jingle slowed down and creepy sounding on top of it. Twitch.
Dutch lesson: 2e gratis = second (item) free.
2 = twee, second = tweede, which frequently gets abbreviated to 2e.
Happy Friday, everyone!
Covid quick tests for home use have been available at Dutch supermarkets for the last month or two. Today I noticed a pile of tests by the self-checkout. I am sure they have always been there and that I just hadn’t noticed them.
The government has a page (in Dutch) listing which quick tests are officially recognized in the Netherlands.
In other news: five new islands have been added to the Netherlands in a 78 million euro project. The Dutch are known for reclaiming land from the sea, as you probably know. This dutchnews.nl article says the islands have been reclaimed for use in nature.
Also: Golden Carriage arrives at Amsterdam Museum after restoration from dutchnews.nl. The golden carriage needed to be maneuvered into position with a crane, as the carriage was placed in the (inner) courtyard. The museum used to be an orphanage and orphans had helped design the carriage back in 1898, hence why it is going on display there after a five year renovation.
It is almost time for the European football championship 2020 (Wikipedia). No – you are not going back in time; it’s the European football championship that was supposed to be held last year but was delayed by corona.
This of course means the streets are turning orange all over the country. Here is a look at the Marktweg (denhaagfm.nl). Apparently this is a completely crazy street because here is another article about the Marktweg from omroepwest.nl, also in Dutch. Or here is a tweet with a photo of the Markstraat.
Companies are of course also cashing in. Here is an m&m’s display at a local Albert Heijn:
Read more about Oranjegekte (Orange fever) over at English Wikipedia. Or see this commercial for a “cheer cape” from another Dutch grocery store over at YouTube.
Last week Marco picked up some pancake mix from the local grocery store, Albert Heijn. The brand was Pondan, an Indonesian company.
I was slightly confused when I looked at the back of packaging to see what extra ingredients were needed (top left with the red arrow):
What? I need 100ml air? How does that work?
And then my brain kicked in and my eyes started working. Air in Indonesian is water in English. How confusing!
But I must admit I love the fact that most packaging is not just in Dutch. Usually you see Dutch and French, because the two main languages in Belgium are Dutch and French. My contact solution bottle has 10+ languages on it. It’s so different from packaging in the United States. For logical reasons of course, but it still is something that makes me pause sometimes.
King’s Day is next Tuesday which means a lovely day off. That’s about the only advantage these days, since the usual King’s Night parties (the evening before) and the King’s Day market can’t take place this year due to the pandemic. But who am I kidding? I probably haven’t gone to a King’s Night party in the last 5 years (back when it used to be Queen’s Night, before she abdicated and gave the throne to her son).
It also means you see a lot of toxic orange baked goods at the grocery stores.
On the left in the back you have soesjes (profiterole according to the English Wikipedia). Those are pastries filled with cream. In the middle you have tompouce, which is just called tompouce over at the English Wikipedia because it is a Dutch/Belgium pastry. My sweet tooth doesn’t usually show itself so I don’t eat this kind of stuff that often anymore. The best tompouce I ever had was from Hema with a lime flavor, putting it a bit more on the sour spectrum than the sweet spectrum. But tompouces are tricky to eat, more like overstuffed hamburgers. If you bite wrong the cream in the middle squirts out in the back.
On the right you have a schnitte. I had no idea what this was. I told Marco and Roger this and they looked at me a bit incredulously. Apparently its a two or three layer cake with whipped cream between the layers, or sometimes jam. Marco said that Viennetta ice cream (English Wikipedia) could also be an example of an ice cream schnitte.
Viennetta was actually a possibility last week for celebrating my birthday, but we went for cheesecake instead. I will always consider Viennetta a luxury, since that is how I viewed it as a kid. With the commercial where the group would enjoy the ice cream in clear, tall glasses (obligatory YouTube link)…
On Monday I wrote about a cheese hack that was disrupting deliveries of cheese to the Albert Heijn grocery stores. The hack was resolved and deliveries could resume again. Most of the cheeses had been replaced, although there are still some gaps here and there. But I had to laugh when I saw this pile of shredded cheese:
Note: this was actually the overflow area for the extra shredded cheese they had in stock. They put it in the “weekly sale area”. The normal place for shredded cheese was also overflowing with bags and bags… and bags. It looks like two or three deliveries worth.
In other news… did you hear about the world’s first fish doorbell in Utrecht? It has been pressed 32,000 times so far in the first two weeks (nltimes.nl in English). Utrecht had a problem. At this time of year there is less boat traffic in the canals so fish would frequently find themselves stuck at a locked gate without any way to get to the other side. To solve this, viewers can watch a special webcam at visdeurbel.nl to see if they see fish in view. If you do spot one, you press the red doorbell on the right. If enough people press the doorbell, a human will manually check and if needed open the gate. Note that when you first access the page you might need to refresh it see the webcam properly.
The camera also takes a screenshot and shares the photo with you. Since there are limited moments when you might see fish (the best time of day is in the early evening or evening), the website also has a page with the best photos taken by viewers. Note that the webcam is temporary as it is only needed during the fish migration season.
Earlier this morning I was walking through the Albert Heijn when I noticed a sign near the cheese section, apologizing for the less than spectacular stock. Indeed, there were a lot of gaps and not much cheese to speak of. I didn’t think much of it since cheese wasn’t on my grocery list today.
A few hours later I read an article on NOS in Dutch: ‘Kaas-hack’ opgelost, ging om gijzelsoftware. I found an article in English at dutchnews.nl: Supermarkets cheesed off after dairy supplier is hacked. The hack occurred in the night between 4 and 5 April, about a week ago. Since then the company has mostly been working with pen and paper to get all of the orders fulfilled. The supplier refused to say whether they paid to have the ransomware lifted (but my guess is yes).
In public transportation news: Amsterdam’s metro lines 50, 51, 52, 53 and 54 have been stopped since about 17:30 today due to a technical failure in one of their new systems (nos.nl in Dutch). The issue is in the new traffic control system that they only started using yesterday.
In corona news: Ministers ‘consider coronavirus vaccine rethink’ after AstraZeneca chaos from dutchnews.nl. There is a lot of controversy around AstraZeneca right now in the Netherlands (and Europe in general). First it was not allowed to be given to 65+, then there were rare cases of rare blood clots mostly see in women under the age of 60 across Europe, and now the vaccine can’t be given to anyone under 60 but can be given to anyone older than that. The same national health council who said “don’t give it to people under 60” last week is now considering advising the government that people under 60 should be allowed to choose whether they want AstraZeneca or not.
Oh, and just to show you how weird the weather has been lately: we had more snow and hail this morning. It started coming down right just as I ducked inside Albert Heijn, but unfortunately I was not met with blue skies and white clouds when I left 15 minutes later. Boo. Who expects weather like this in mid-April?
I took this photo for a certain someone I know who works at a grocery store (we were just talking last week about things being dumped in the wrong grocery store aisle):
While looking for some potato chips I spotted a sad looking bag of bread rolls and a chocolate bar. The bread can’t be resold (it’s a bag a customer puts together themselves) so it will need to be thrown out. The bread section is also near the beginning of the store, and this is at the end. Of course.
Oh, and I went for the bag of Albert Heijn black pepper and sea salt chips, by the way. That’s the gray bag to the left.
You know it is Spring when the sunscreen is on display at the local Albert Heijn. In this case it was on display at the self-service registers, which might make you think that the coming temperatures will be blazing hot, like 36C/100F. Nope. We are looking at around 22C/72 F for today and tomorrow before the temperature drops again. Don’t get me wrong – sunscreen is still needed at those temperatures if you spend enough time outside. I just always find it funny when I see sunscreen on display in the Netherlands.
I also wanted to complain about how expensive sun screen was here in comparison to America, but after quickly checking Walgreens I realized that it is pretty much expensive in both places. Who knew. I don’t go through sunscreen that quickly, that’s for sure!
The Hague has replaced the “keep to the right” stickers on the Grote Markt with spray painted versions. Well, the old stickers are still there but most of them are half torn off or trampled. So “replaced” is probably not the most accurate description.
The photo above was taken at the Grote Markt, just before Bijenkorf (so just before this photo which I posted over the weekend).
In other news…
Groninger Museum to celebrate stolen Van Gogh painting a year after the theft from nltimes.nl. The special website (with facts and background information about the painting) will launch tomorrow.
Ever Given sets course for Rotterdam after six-day Suez blockade ends from dutchnews.nl. 400 meter ship gets stuck in the Suez canal at a part that was only 300 meter wide. 6 day blockade occurs. Opps? Interesting fact: most of the ships that were stuck behind this one were also destined for the Rotterdam port, meaning there are three delays: waiting for the ship to get unstuck, waiting to get through the Suez canal, and waiting to get unloaded at the port in Rotterdam.
No more free plastic bags in fresh produce section of Albert Heijn from nltimes.nl. That makes sense. I am only surprised it took so long. I already have a reusable bag for fruits and vegetables – Albert Heijn has sold them along side the free plastic bags for a few years now – but sometimes it is easier to use a plastic bag (especially when you get two types of things that both need to be weighed).