A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Have you been showing off your new-found knowledge at the supermarket after reading part 1? Here’s part 2 to help you look even more like a pro!
Oh Albert Heijn! You sound like you should be a lovely old grandpa, who will tell me stories about your youth and smell of tobacco smoke. Instead, you are a bright blue supermarket, whose mascot is a cartoon hamster.
Here’s a fun game: ask your Dutch classmates where they shop. If they don’t live directly next to Hoogvliet, then I guarantee they will be an AH devotee. Ask them why they go there, and the answer will be something sentimental like “My parents go there, so when I moved to uni…I kept shopping there too”, or something about how super awesome AH is “Well, you know, it is the best supermarket (in the world ever)” Students can be very dedicated to AH, despite the fact that it is probably the most expensive supermarket chain.
OK, enough with the teasing. In fact, AH is generally a very, very good place to do your shopping. It has that aura of excellence (as far as supermarkets go), and I can tell you from experience that it’s shelves are filled with the things that you really need, but Hoogvliet doesn’t ever have. It is so famous that even non-Dutch comedians have had a laugh at its expense (starts around 0:45):
(Disclaimer: I think you might have to be Dutch to find this very funny. As far as I can see the laugh comes from him saying “zakje!” (little bag), but honestly, Dutch friends find this hilarious…)
Douwe Egberts is the coffee of the Netherlands. It is served at cafes and restaurants, is advertised everywhere and seems to sponsor everything! The next time you are at Schiphol to pick up a visiting friend, keep an eye out for the huge Douwe Egberts banners that welcome you to the Netherlands.
Ah, at last we come to beer! And to what might well be the most famous brand to come out of the Netherlands. Heineken is everywhere, from the watered down drink you get in plastic cups at student society parties, to the beverage you are given in a bar when you have stared at the extensive beer menu for too long and end up just asking for “een biertje.” Did you know that Heineken sponsors the student society Minerva?
Heineken seems to have a massive advertising budget, and its TV adverts have become really famous. I’m sure most of you will have seen this one online:
Here’s a question to all you Dutch readers out there. In the UK, Heineken is often marketed in bars as a kind of “fancy” beer, because, you know, it’s “European.” Do you think Heineken represents Dutch beer?
And finally, I can’t mention only Heineken without pointing towards at least one of its Dutch rivals. Grolsch is the alternative to Heineken, and bars will generally have either one or the other. Personally, I like this one better than Heineken, plus, the beugel tops (that you have to pop open with your thumbs) are super fun. At bars in the UK I got away with asking for a “Grolsh” or maybe even “Grolch,” but let me just warn you that this is actually nowhere near how it should be pronounced. Best get some Dutch lessons in quickly before heading out to the bar…