How to be Orange

How to be Orange

How to be Orange, offers an insightful look at Dutch culture by social commentator and comedian, Greg Shapiro. Shapiro's extensive knowledge of Dutch culture and politics has been accrued over twenty years of living and working in the Netherlands. His cultural immersion has involved marriage to a Dutch woman and parenting first generation Dutch children, while living in Amsterdam and forging a durable career within the local art scene. In the Netherlands, Shapiro is the immigrant people laugh at. He happily accepts this fate, not just because it is how he makes his living, but because it indicates that his efforts at inburgering have been a success. Shapiro is an American, obvious in many ways including numerous comparisons of the Netherlands to the US throughout the book. His birth culture is the basis for what formulates his views about his adopted land. An example is chapter 22 on Dutch service, renowned for being non-existent if you are lucky, and terrible if your luck is running short. Shapiro rates service in North America as sitting on the other end of the hospitality scale - something akin to being downright annoying due to desire of earnest staff to increase their tips by attentive servitude. Stage show The book is the offspring of the author's stage show, and hence the material has been tried and tested in terms of relevance to the audience/reader experience. Newcomers to the Netherlands will identify with topics like dealing with government bureaucracies that don't make sense acquiring a cheap, used bike from unscrupulous sources feeling insulted by Dutch honesty and the irrational love of Zwarte Piet in a land that is otherwise unable to gracefully accept racial differences into its mix. Difficult topics are tackled with facts, sharp insights and often hilarious, personal anecdotes. Presented in two parts, part one contains 24 short chapters interspersed with caricature illustrations of Shapiro by Floor de Goede, and photos of Dutch things that become laughable in translation. Exam Part Two is the Assimilation Exam, a list of questions and answers used in the National Inburgering Test, a test of Dutch cultural understanding for foreigners. This second part emphasizes the idiosyncrasies of Dutch culture that are difficult to understood even for the Dutch, yet can be found in the examination questions for newcomers. Again, Shapiro addresses the odd image the Dutch have of themselves, compared to how the world sees the Dutch. A good example is the multiple choice question about where Dutch people go on holidays (p235). The answer that is officially correct is: A) The Netherlands, yet Shapiro states that the true answer is actually: B) In France and Spain. Most Dutch people, and camping ground staff in France and Spain, would agree with Shapiro. How to be Orange is not an official guide book to Dutch culture, yet the inclusion of this book on the essential reading lists of cultural assimilation courses would save newcomers unnecessary frustration in understanding their host country. For the rest of us, the book is a compendium of humorous subjects presented with respect, wit and sarcasm by an American with a strong attachment to the people and culture of his adopted homeland. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >



Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam restaurant reviews, seasonal recipe suggestions and all the latest culinary news from a local foodie. More >


Invading Holland

Invading Holland

The adventures of an accident-prone English man who arrived in the Netherlands in 2001 for a six month stay. More >




I love Noord

I love Noord

North Amsterdam is described as the Brooklyn of the Dutch capital. If you want to know why, read this blog. More >


Holland Cycling

Holland Cycling

Explore the Netherlands the Dutch way - by bicycle. Includes where to go, planning your trip, tips and info. More >



24 Oranges

24 Oranges

Dutch things pressed for your pleasure: oddball Dutch news and photographs. More >



Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

I try to create a relationship with this mysterious city. I love it and can’t get enough of it. More >


Kristen in Clogland

Kristen in Clogland

'Kristen in Clogland' is a blog about an Aussie discovering the Netherlands and adjusting to life in another country More >


A Wanderlust For Life

A Wanderlust For Life

An American expat blogging about life in Amsterdam while traveling around the country and throughout Europe. More >


Stuff Dutch People Like

Based on the successful blog of the same name, Stuff Dutch People Like is a very funny look at 'all things orange'. Without the slightly sour taste of some books which poke fun at the Dutch, SDPL explores the world of white leggings, the way Dutch men (including the king) pick their noses in public and the strange world of fries and liquorice. Author Colleen Geske, a Canadian national, has lived in Europe since 2004. A communications and social media consultant by trade, Geske has a sharp eye for detail, a witty turn of phrase and an apparent warm affection for the country she has made her home. The blog has been a runaway success, particularly with the native Dutch, and some of their more bizarre and bemused comments are included in the book. Liberally illustrated, Stuff Dutch People Like is the ultimate book for smallest room in your Dutch house - alongside the birthday calendar (page 138), the sink with cold water (page 147) and underneath those impossibly steep stairs (page 128).   Buy this book  More >


Amsterdam, a metropolitan village

Amsterdam, a city with grit that embraces you, a city with the appeal of a metropolis and the flair of a Dutch village. This is a gorgeous photo book of Amsterdam. Buy this book  More >


Hieronymus

Marcel Ruijters is an award winning Dutch comic artist with a fascination for medieval art, which is obvious in his own artwork. As part of the 2016 programme of festivities commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch, Ruijters was commissioned by the Bosch 500 Foundation and Mondriaan Art Fund to produce a graphic book about the artist’s life. The result of this commission is the graphic novel Hieronymus (English) or Jheronimus (Dutch version), a hard-covered comic arranged in five chapters and filled with phantasmagorical images recognisable from Bosch’s own art. A history trip Rather than a comprehensive biography, the five chapters cover various significant periods in the author’s life. The drawings add the historical context to the narrative: the role of the Church; the public hatred of the Dominican Order for their participation in the Inquisition; the 1463 fire that destroyed a considerable section of Den Bosch’s inner city buildings; and a culture that incorporated both debauchery and chronic hardships. The story of Hieronymus is weaved through the illustrations, depicting him as the third son in a family of artists – who made a living producing artworks commissioned by the Church. As a young man he questioned his work and domestic situation, almost moving to Belgium before heeding the foreboding of a palm reader he encountered in a tavern. On his return to Den Bosch, he is confronted by serious family conflict that eventually results in his taking control of the business. Bizarre and amazing art Ruijters’ illustrations are difficult to describe. Often simultaneously gruesome and hilarious, especially the images of convicted criminals having their limbs chopped off and genitals mutilated in front of a jeering crowd, and under the supervision of a religious dignitary. Individual characters have unique features and expressions, an impressive feat considering the numerous crowd scenes. Background sketches of a Dutch city and surrounding countryside in the 1500s seem authentic, often including unsavory details like freak show employees and leper colonies hassling for coins. Who was Hieronymus? I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic ride but was left with some unanswered questions about the artist and his work. What is the actual story behind the surreal creatures in his famous triptych ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’? Was Hieronymus having fun or mentally ill as he painted these images? Hopefully, the flurry of activities being organised to commemorate 500 years since his death will answer them. Ana McGinley books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Colonel Baxter’s Dutch Safari

Cartoonist and artist Glen Baxter was first published in the Netherlands 40 years ago. Now he's back with a collection of absurdist drawings covering all things Dutch - from herring and tulips to Mondriaan and Rietveld chairs. Dutch funnyman Wim de Bie, who curates the Glen Baxter Museum, provides the introduction to this slim volume of full-colour drawings and wry comments. In particular, Baxter seems to have it in for Rietveld's famous chair - which is eaten by beavers, turned into a method of execution and a bidet. The humour is gentle and barbed at the same while the little Delft tiles sketched on opposing pages contain some hidden gems. Buy this book  More >


Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen

If the idea of authentic Dutch cuisine fills you with horror, then you're not alone. Even the authors of The New Kitchen admit that, 'Dutch cooking does not, to say the least, have a very good international reputation.' Amsterdam based writers Manon Sikkel and Michiel Klonhammer have penned numerous articles about their passion for traditional food and have enthusiastically updated some authentically rustic dishes in Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen. You could be forgiven for thinking that there is little appeal in modernizing recipes that include culinary gems like cheese soup or salsifies with sour cream, but there's lots about this cheery and self-deprecating little book that makes you want try them out, like the bizarre but surprisingly tasty, eel and asparagus soup or the hash, made from stewed steak (with herbs, onions and juniper berries). If you ate this kind of food every day then watch out! You might just find your left ventricle slamming shut. It's what you might call wholesome, stodgy fodder: very short on sophistication but full of flavour. Generations of Dutch peasants toiled the polders nourished on this kind of fuel and it certainly hasn't stunted the nation's growth, so what is there to criticise? Well quite a bit actually, such as the bacon pancakes with avocado mousse, which according to my husband, won't even tempt a famished fox. As well as nearly all of the vegetable dishes, and specifically the sprout puree which looks like it's passed through the digestive tract of a cat. But thankfully almost every pudding was scrumptious and my three-year-old thought the strawberry fool and apple pie were 'Lishus'. It was only the prunes and curd that let the side down and looked revolting despite whatever nutritional benefits it may have boasted in days of olde... Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen, has been lovingly produced in homage to old-fashioned Dutch cuisine and it successfully manages to inject some fun into a stale national pastime with this funky mix of traditional hearty fare. All the recipes are simple, cheap and easy to prepare which makes it an ideal cookery book for youngsters, or anyone who fancies trying out an eclectic menu on friends. But if you really are planning a 'Dutch' dinner party, and before you fill the trough, just make sure you choose the courses wisely, and more importantly, keep a defibrillator handy. Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Complete Dutch

If you can master a combination of some basic English, German and a guttural noise akin to clearing your throat, then you'Ž“ve taken your first steps to learning Dutch. With this in mind, you will also need some patient tuition, but in the absence of that, you could do a lot worse than Complete Dutch and the two accompanying CDs. It covers a range of topics that most people new to these shores will find useful and chapters are set out in an easy to read format that include a mixture of dialogue, grammar, vocabulary, short tests and useful information. It'Ž“s so reader friendly that you will find yourself getting the gist of the lingo quite quickly especially in the first section which is all about greeting people and introducing yourself. Later chapters include learning to speak in the past tense and discussing your emotional and physical state as well as making and receiving simple telephone calls. As you sit and read through the book you can listen to the CD of people acting out the dialogues, bringing the accent to life and providing perfect examples of how Dutch should sound. And herein lies the rub because although the language itself is not overly complicated, the pronunciation of any word with one or more Ž•gsŽ“ in it will have you sweating with vocal exhaustion - as anyone who haŽ“s ever tried to say Ž•Gefeliciteerd!Ž“ quickly, and for the first time, will know. Complete Dutch is supposedly for beginners with no previous language experience, but anyone who falls entirely into this bracket might find it intimidating as it romps along heartily from the beginning. Having said that, it's an excellent language guide and certainly worth investing in if you are serious about learning to conquer this gloriously throaty vernacular. Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


How to be Dutch

A familiar face to many expats in the Netherlands, Greg Shapiro is an American comedian, writer, television presenter, vlogger and collector of Dutch peculiarities. As a resident of the Netherlands for over two decades, Shapiro has had ample opportunities to expand his collection of cultural idiosyncrasies, considered ‘normal’ by the Dutch and ‘absurd’ by everyone else. It is these cultural oddities that form the foundation for Shapiro’s professional life. How to Be Dutch, The Quiz is Shapiro’s latest book. It follows his 2014 book: How to be Orange: an Alternative Dutch Assimilation Course which tied in with the live show Shapiro was performing around the country at the time. His new book is written as a quiz loosely based on the Dutch assimilation or inburgering exam. The quiz contains multiple-choice questions arranged under topics including Dutch fashion, cuisine, stereotypes, and health care. Selecting the correct answer is often difficult because all options can seem ridiculous yet totally plausible. A good example is: While biking, you see a group of tourists edging toward the bike path ahead of you. When should you ring your bell? Ring as early and as often as possible Dutch bikes don’t have bells Wait until you are almost on top of them (pg21) Edgy at times as questions touch on such sacred cows as Zwarte Piet, slavery and racism, Shapiro provides readers with the arguments and relevant history needed to gain insight into the Dutch culture. He doesn’t shy away from complaining, appearing foolish, or exposing the nonsensical. His comparisons are influenced by his own American background, a familiar standpoint for non-Americans thanks to decades of television and films. How to Be Dutch: The Quiz is not an anti-Dutch book. Instead it is an amusing look at the country and culture many migrants have chosen to be part of, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. Recommended for anyone looking for a fun, easy read or wanting to assess their own assimilation into the Dutch culture. Ana McGinley (The correct answer is C)  More >


The Mobile Life

The Mobile Life - a new approach to moving anywhere by veteran global citizen Diane Lemieux and Anne Parker targets individuals embarking on their first expatriate experience. Knowledgeable about the topic from both a professional and personal basis, the authors have tackled the subject with an extremely detailed interpretation of what is required to conscientiously make the decision to uproot and resettle in an unfamiliar country. REVIEW: On a university curriculum The Mobile Life would find its place on an introductory psychology course, possibly: Expat 101. The contents are broad-ranging and offer something to every potential expat moving to any part of the world. Covering all aspects of making an international move from a psychological perspective, familiar concepts like Maslow'Ž“s Hierarchy of Needs (p108) and Hall'Ž“s Analogy of Culture (p126) are included with more recently introduced terminology such as emotional intelligence (p66), moral quotient (p139) and body quotient (p144). Business Guide Adopting the phrase 'Ž•team leader'Ž“ to refer to parents supports the notion that family members work as a team. Continuing with this model, information is reminiscent of company team building days spent in closed rooms with paper and whiteboard space - where roles and responsibilities are brainstormed, documented, analyzed, and discussed to the point of consensus within the family team. History Guide Choosing the analogy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 1914 Antarctic expedition to explain the challenges of a global move, and the essential attributes of a good leader to ensure the survival of accompanying family members is perhaps too loose a connection in the book. Reading about Shackleton is an enjoyable distraction, yet comparing a sea captain, who travelled with his crew and became trapped for months in Antarctica before returning home to his family, with an English family being sent on their maiden expat posting in Abu Dhabi or SingaporeŽ is an obtuse comparison. Overall, the authors undoubtedly know their subject matter. The book will benefit individuals wanting to delve into the why and how questions that arise from a decision to move to a new country. The book is based on the psychology of making the transition -Ž admittedly a step many expats do not consider in their excitement at becoming global citizens. Buy this book  More >


A Millenium of Amsterdam

Author Fred Feddes threads together 40 stories about the original landscape of present-day Amsterdam, its reclamation, the changing relationship between water and land, and the continuing history of the city's growth, rebuilding and urban planning. With its starting point at Dam Square, the book fans out through the city and surrounding region, and through time from the year 1000 until the present day. Filled with archival photographs, illustrations and maps, the book imparts a comprehensive and fascinating spatial history of this complex Dutch city. Buy this book  More >


NLXL – possibly the biggest book about the Netherlands you have ever seen

The Netherlands might like to consider itself a small country - a kleine kikkerlandje, as the Dutch are so fond of saying - but this is one mighty big book. Karel Tomei's NLXL weighs in at a whopping 3.5 kilos but is such a joy to look at that you will forget the weight on your knees. The book draws on the tradition of birds eye view paintings in which the world is captured from the skies: the intricate patterns of reclaimed land crisscrossed by ditches, the contrast between bulb fields and a golf course, great swathes of sand with a city in the distance, a drone's view of a busy cafe terrace, the intricate carvings on the roof of a cathedral. But it's the landscape that really rules NLXL - the Netherlands might be oh so very flat, but it still has amazing variation in its countryside - from the seaside dunes to the southern heaths, from the the seals sunning themselves on a sandbank to intricate cityscapes. NLXL will make a stunning, if heavy, present for anyone who loves the Netherlands in all its variations. You can buy NLXL at all good bookshops and online from Xpat Media   More >