If you’ve already read, “How does the Aussie cross a Dutch Road?” you can probably understand the world of pain I go though every day just to get to the supermarket. It sucks. It takes me forever and I personally feel prangs of anxiety just opening my front door…. But, have you ever thought about what happens when I’m inside an actual Dutch supermarket?
I do consider the supermarket that I live directly across the street from the ‘pantry of dreams’ but, it’s also one step away from Hannibal Lecter’s terror of nightmares.
As I enter though the shiny chrome gates of the supermarket, there’s always one guy petting the apples in the fruit and veg section that looks like he’s going to say “Hello, Tara,” scoop me up and murder me out by the loading dock. Check out exhibit A:
See what I mean? Yep. It’s totally creepy… but that’s not the worst thing that can happen. Oh no…
What I’m about to explain is what happens to me quite often at the supermarket. Ya see, I find some sort of food packaging that catches my eye. It’s usually some sort of tasty Mexican meal on the side a box. I flip it over for closer inspection to read what it actually contains and that’s when I realise that there’s one slight problem: I CAN’T READ FRICKIN DUTCH. Nope. Sometimes, I get lucky and I find German and French on the back of the box, but the Dutch totally say a big fat nope to the English speaking people like me when it comes to finding out what’s inside this box of tasty mysteries.
This does happen to me on a number of occasions because I mostly forget where in the world I am at any given time. I know a lot of you are saying… “Tara, this is the digital age! You have technology at your finger tips!” Oh, you are so totally right! Google Translate is amazing. It’s so totally incredible for situations like this.. until, you FORGET YOUR FRICKIN PHONE!
You’re probably saying to me under your breath, “Oh Tara.. just go back to the house and get it.” My answer to you is, “Oh HELLLLLLL no!” I will refer you back to the last article. It takes me 14 minutes 23 seconds risking life and limb with Dutchies on foot, Dutchies on bikes, Dutchies in cars, then Dutchies on bikes and Dutchies on foot again.. and the occasional guy in the fruit and veg section staring at me like a creepy mo fo.
This is where I put the box back on the shelf and go for a wander.
From the corner of my right eye, I see all the different kinds of Dutch cheese in the refrigerator. Guess what. They’re all the same colour and shape. Absolutely no cheese creativity. Upon past inspection, they mostly taste the same, too.
Then, in the other refrigerator, I find something that looks remotely like vomit in a small cup with a sliced egg on top. The first time I tried it, it tasted like chunky raw hotdogs mixed with litres upon litres of mayonnaise. The second time I tried it (in the same actual sitting) it actually tasted like that one time I vomited in a casino change bucket out the window of my mate’s car whilst driving on the New Jersey Turn Pike coming back from a night of playing blackjack in Atlantic City. Yes, I won 500 bucks that night and no, my friends out of sheer jealousy (we were only 21) weren’t going to stop and hold my hair on the side of the road. People from New Jersey just don’t do those type of things.
I, then, found something in the Dutch supermarket that resembled meatballs. At this very moment, it felt like the gates of heaven opened up and the food Gods were upon me. Little angels with golden trumpets were dancing around the meatballs and were now glittery in all their glory. But, it wasn’t the angles announcing my arrival that made me excited – you know what it was? These weren’t just any meatballs, these were SWEDISH MEATBALLS. I picked them up and upon closer inspection, they were sitting in loads of frozen sauce goodness because sauce makes everything taste better.
I was giddy as a school girl, hugged my Swedish meatballs close to my chest, clicked my heels three times whilst I repeated, “There’s nothing like Swedish Meatballs” and navigated though the Dutchie working the checkout. This person didn’t speak English either… that’s cool, man. I get it.
After spending the afternoon crossing the Dutch road, “hanger,” a cross between hunger and anger, had set in but not all hope was lost because I was going to have Swedish Meatballs for dinner!
When I entered my kitchen, I turn on the gas, grabbed the pot from the drawer, open the meatballs, put them into the pot, and waited. This wasn’t any kind of wait. To me, I was incredibly excited for a meal that was about to make me less hungry and more happy! I gave the pot a mix. It’s still wasn’t ready, but I knew that it would be worth it in the end when when I would finally take my first bite.
I give the pot one final mix. Yep. The time was NOW. These tasty meatballs were steaming HOT and ready to go. I grab a bowl and one by one I gently placed the meatballs inside. I carried the bowl over to the table, grab a knife and fork and with a loud but excited sigh, I sat down.
Finally, the moment had come. I have put so much effort into today’s meal. I crossed the Dutch street twice and survived, avoided eye contact with the Dutch Hannibal Lecter, didn’t get angry at all the ‘different’ Dutch cheese that looks the same and safely avoided the edible vomit of my much younger years.
I took my fork, stabbed the perfectly round little meatball of dreams and put it in my mouth and WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THIS. I didn’t even chew this thing. The meatball fell out of my mouth, hit the side of the bowl and fell onto the table. You could have fed me anything else but this little round sauced ball of terror: THIS IS NOT A SWEDISH MEATBALL.
I was scraping my tongue on my teeth to get rid of the taste that I was overtaking my mouth. The sauce was piling up on my teeth and the smell was lingering. I got up… went straight to the trash bin and started to have the dry heaves. Jesus Christ. What the fuck just tried to kill me? I kept spitting into the bin. I ran over to the bowl and with anger and disgust threw the entire thing out – bowl, fork and some alien life-form that tasted like peanut butter disguised as a meatball.
I was filthy with anger and brushed my teeth with fury. I was so filthy with rage that I REFUSED to cross the 50 meter Dutch street again to get some other weird and uneatable Dutch food for dinner. It just wasn’t worth the anger and brush with death crossing the road for the next 30 minutes, eye contact with Dutch Hannibal and trying some other weird undeniably disgusting Dutch food.
I have since accidentally bought peach juice disguised as orange, cilantro that was actually basil, there was once a dramatic incident with a banana and also an ‘experience’ with different flavours of cheese that all look and taste the same.
At this very time, I must say that the only edible things in all of the Netherlands is Stroopwafel. Trust me, it’s actually safe.
A girl gone walkabout in the great big world!