Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Dutch cyclists

Someone said that the Dutch people are the nicest people in the world until you set foot on their bicycle lanes!!! Then they go crazy!!! And that statement rings true!  Don't mind the pun.

image credit - Dennis Callan

I unwittingly stepped onto a brown lane when I got off a bus in Amsterdam and a gray-haired granny on a bicycle who almost bowled me over rang her bell furiously and yelled, "Kanker op tyfus toeriste (cancer on typhoid tourist) !" in my face.

I learned fast that those reddish-brown paths are bike paths, NOT sidewalks and the most important Dutch sound you need to know is TRING, a warning rung by Dutch cyclists. When you hear it, you should clear out of their paths … pronto!  A Dutchie on a bike doesn't stop!

Tring = "excuse me"

Tring Tring = "Seriously, I'm coming through"

 A bunch of Trings =  "F@#k you!" or "Cancer on typhoid tourist!"

Oh, I also learned that Dutch people often swear with diseases!

In a country where there are more bicycles than people or cars, Dutch cyclists rule and have the right of way in most situations. They yield to no one and have zero tolerance for pedestrians especially tourists. A friend who recently visited The Netherlands said she was almost run over by a lady cyclist with a wheelbarrow (bakfiets) full of kids!

Amsterdammers of all ages, income groups and descriptions go to work, to school, to the grocer's, to the bank, to a party, to a wedding, etc on their bicycles. And they don't wear helmets! It makes sense 'cos that would totally mess up your hair!

I saw a lady cycling with one kid behind her on the bike, one kid in front, grocery bags dangling from the handlebars and a dog in the front basket! And she was holding an umbrella!

Women in tight dresses and high heels, suited men on their cellphones, Dutchies texting and taking selfies, walking their dogs, carrying bulky objects (from large musical instruments to furniture!)...... Dutch cyclists have pretty fancy biking skills!

image credit - lowlandslinda

On the way to a wedding...
image source -
Who needs a van when you have a bakfiets!
image source - bakfiets en meer
image source -

Now, where did I park my bike!?

So stay away from their bike paths of death and listen carefully for those angry bicycle bells lest you be yelled at with different diseases!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Mussels In Brussels

Moules-frites or mussels and fries is a serious classic Belgian dish you can find in just about any café or brasserie in Brussels. Those steaming black pots of brimming mussels, served with a side of fries are Belgium's national pride.

When our tour guide announced that a Moules-frites lunch in Brussels was the highlight of our day trip to Belgium, I wasn't exactly thrilled. I have a mussel phobia and blame the aversion on a rogue mussel in my ramen many years ago. Mentioning this gives me stomach cramps.
Steamed mussels with a side of fries
Lunch At La Rosa Roja

When we were seated in the restaurant, I told the hubs no way was I going to eat those bottom-feeders. That was...... until steaming pots of mussels appeared on our tables and the mouthwatering aroma of butter, celery and leeks wafted through the room. Everyone was oohing and ahhing! My tour buddies heartily dug into the meal.

I relented...
Slurping the plump, juicy, flesh out of their shells and broth was a mussel experience like no other! The mussels and fries complemented each other perfectly and if you ask me, steamed mussels and fries go together as naturally as burgers and fries in the US and as fish and chips in the UK.

Moules-frites are a match made in food heaven! And it's no wonder Belgians are the world's biggest mussel eaters!

Moules-frites are a menu staple for all seasons but we were told the mussels are the freshest during the months that end with ‘er’ — from September until December.

While observing the locals eating their mussels, I realized we were doing it wrong!

Here's the Belgian way.

Step 1 - Sucking out the flesh from the first pair of shells.

Step 2 - Use the empty shells as tongs to pick out the flesh from the others.

No utensil required!

I think mussels are back in my life once again!

Musings Of A Tired Mummy