Dutch in the snackbar

‘Is Dutch a difficult language to learn?’ That is a key question and the answer depends on many factors. If you speak German, Dutch is not very difficult because the two languages are very similar. Young people learn foreign languages more easily than older people. But what is young and what is old? Another important factor is interest in the language and a strong desire to learn it. Let this not prevent you from trying to speak Dutch when you are in Amsterdam.

                   Patatje oorlog – a culinary delight       (photo credit Takeaway)

Dutch language

Many foreigners in the Netherlands have a hard time practicing their Dutch on the locals. Most Dutch speak reasonably good English and the moment they hear a foreigner struggle with the Dutch language, they switch over to English. This seems kind, but in fact it isn’t. The aspiring foreigner never gets an opportunity to practice his or her Dutch.

If you go to one of the Febo snack bars in Amsterdam you may overhear the following conversation of a British tourist ordering chips in Dutch.

Tourist: ‘een patat.’

Snack bar attendant: ‘met?’

The tourist jogs his memory and squeaks: ‘with?’ (The tourist is right ‘met’ is ‘with’ in English)

The snack bar attendant taps his fingers on the counter and snaps: ‘patatje met, patatje oorlog, patatje ziekenhuis, of patatje orientaal?’

‘Chips, please,’ the tourist says in a small voice.

Now understanding the order the attendant smiles, reaches behind him, grabs a bag of crisps and says: ‘alsjeblieft.’

‘Bedankt,’ says the boy and sneaks off.


  • patat
    chips (British English, french fries (US English)
  • met
  • chips
    crisp (British English)
  • patatje oorlog
    chips with spicy peanut sauce and mayonnaise.
  • patatje ziekenhuis
    chips with garlic sauce and chili sauce
  • patatje orientaal
    chips with bean sprouts and spicy peanut sauce
  • patatje met
    chips with mayonnaise.
  • oorlog
  • ziekenhuis