Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Fabulous things about the Dutch #2

Boy, can they make coffee.

When my sister Bev and I arrived in the small Dutch town of Naarden, after a very nasteh night flight on KLM (note to occasional travellers abroad: opting for the night flight doesn’t give you an extra day because you sleep during the flight; it gives you a day you can’t remember, because your brain goes into hysterical catatonia from exhaustion after having tried to sleep for 11 hours, but instead wriggled around vainly trying to find a place for your feet, knees, hips, shoulders and head – and isn’t it amazing how you only realise how heavy your head actually is when you’re required not to lay it down on fellow passengers while sleeping on a long-haul flight?), it was to a very, very small and very, very strong cup of coffee. 

‘I don’t drink strong coffee, usually,’ my sister said, but it was pressed upon her, so she did. (My sister also ‘didn’t drink’ neat whisky in the morning, but the last time we travelled together, 20 years ago to Scotland in the dead of winter, she quickly realised the medicinally warming benefits of a ‘nip’ in a pub at 10am.) 

I love coffee, so I did. And it was like dying and going to heaven. 

Goll-lee but the Dutch know coffee! There wasn’t a single place we went where we didn’t get a cup (usually miniature, sometimes of teacup proportions, and very occasionally about 200ml – but never, ever the giant crud that passes for restaurant/takeaway ‘coffee’ in South Africa) of the most astonishingly heady, fragrant, PERFECT brew. I mean, they gave us a cup of this astonishingly awesome coffee at the car-hire place while we waited to fill out forms! Seriously, if it weren’t for the boring landscape and the neverending rain and the teeny-tiny toilets and all the bloody stairs and the kamikaze cyclists and the eye-poppingly expensive cost of living and the bossy Dutch, I would move to Holland for the coffee. 

They always serve the coffee with speculaas, which is a thin, crispy cinnamon/ginger biscuit of which the Dutch are inordinately proud. I say ‘inordinately’ because it’s, you know, lovely, but after a while I wouldn’t have minded a Baker’s Lemon Cream. Call me a philistine. 

But niggles aside (and I’m assuming the Dutch won’t mind my criticism, because I’m kind of liking this ‘being straightforward’ thing), I have to give Holland a full, enthusiastic 10 points for their coffee. It was fabulous.

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