Amsterdam and Sprinkles Sandwiches

I first encountered schprinkles sandwiches in Indonesia in ’99. They were on a tray outside my hotel room for breakfast. I took the cover off and beheld before me ….. white slices of bread with colourful sprinkles dotted about on the butter! Sweet, I thought, what a funny thing. It turns out that this is a funny Dutch thing. I do believe that Holland has gained more culinary wise from Indonesia than Indonesia from Holland (cue plug for the Bumbu Pecel recipe). However, I do not knock sprinkles. They are not just for children -hurrah! (Why does all the cool stuff happen for children when you are no longer one? Such as going around a gallery with a special guide for children on a Nintendo! Although I suppose I was pretty happy with my sketch book.) They are known as hailstones or sprinkles “hagelslag” (which sounds like an insult in English, yoooo hagelslag yoooo!), and mice “muisjes” which usually refers to a blue or pink non-chocolate version often offered to guests after a child is born. They come in several forms: plain chocolate strand sprinkles, mini chocolate curl sprinkles, and colourful sugar strand sprinkles.

I recently went to Holland to visit the Dutch side of my family so had sprinkles for breakfast. I recommend heating a croissant, splitting it open, slathering a modest amount of butter in it and shaking sprinkles inside, then devouring. Mmmm! Back home I just use cake decoration sprinkles, they aren’t as good quality though as proper sandwich sprinkles. I love Holland. It is such a neat small country with so many great things in it: stroopwafels (caramel waffle biscuits), runways for bicycles (not half a metre’s width on a busy road full of vehicles as in London), Moooi (I think my favourite product/ furniture design company. I have now learnt the correct pronunciation. It is not “moo-ey” but “moy”), Droog (close behind Moooi for design. I have also learnt the correct pronunciation for this, not “Drooog” but “Drog” – so Amsterdam!),  furry seat covers for bicycles, beautiful bicycles, everyone speaks perfect English in really great accents too, bridges, canals, Rembrandt, blue and white ceramics, rabbits in parks, windmills, you get the picture. To give you an idea of just how small and neat it is, I flew there in 45 minutes, met a cousin at Schiphol airport, got on a train to Alkmaar (45 minutes), then grabbed two bicycles there and cycled to the beach in Bergen (40 mins mainly because of my pitstops for photos) to meet the other cousins and all before 3pm. Wonderful!!

I have a new favourite thing to add to my list of favourite things: my cousins’ uncle’s raft. He is not my uncle in case you think I’m being thick like hot chocolate. He is the brother of my aunt who is related to me through marriage (they are two of fourteen siblings, all the same mother, no twins, triplets or quads. Impressive!) So, during the trip my cousins had been saying that we should go on Uncle Adri’s raft one day. I thought “the raft” was a nickname for a boat. The day of the raft came and I went to the edge of one of the central canals, peered over to see a row of floating planks with a motor at one end. A raft! It really was a raft! It turns out that being on a raft is a lot more exciting than being in a boat. A boat with sides and seats and a steering wheel, how boring! So we spent the whole day motoring down the waterways, Uncle Adri kicking a football over the bridges and collecting it in the water on the other side, then kicking it to people on the banks and having them kick it back. Now I see what the fuss is about football, it really is fun! We collected friends, were told off for mooring at the sculling club (we did not ask in advance!), floated to the widest part of the Amstel and dived in. The water was brown and dull but quite warm and lovely. I also managed to master the art of changing twice on a raft with no one seeing anything to compromise my modesty at all. We made a pit stop to go to the supermarket for food and found a sofa on the street (in good condition, I hasten to add!) so that came with us and was plonked on the raft. We carried on until it became dark and we were stopped by the water police because we had no lights on. We had no lights at all so everyone who had an iPhone downloaded the flashlight app and held it up high. Neat! To finish we found a restaurant with a terrace by the water, moored, ordered hot chocolates and sat on the sofa drinking them. It really was a fabulous day and shall have to become a summer staple.

You can read about some of the Dutch design I saw and loved on my design blog here

The raft.

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