Dutch people tend to have dinner early. Actually, they have several different dinner times depending on whether they are eating at home or elsewhere. But whatever the planned time, they definitely don’t want to be late for it.
Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
In Indonesia, people usually eat their dinner when the sky is getting dark. When I first arrived in Wageningen, it was summer and the sun set late. So my Indonesian friends on the corridor and I prepared dinner together around 11:00 pm. My Dutch friend came into the kitchen to get some water and she was very surprised that we were cooking and eating that late.
A couple of months later, I asked my Dutch friend to join me for a game of badminton in De Bongerd. We had just played three short games when she said she wanted to go home. I thought she was already tired, but I was wrong. She rushed off just because she realized it was almost dinner time and she didn’t want to miss it.
Another time, a German friend and I hitchhiked from Leiden to Wageningen for a conference. A very kind Dutch man drove us back. He looked at his watch and told us happily, ‘You’re lucky! You won’t be late for dinner!’ It ended with everyone in the car laughing out loud.
It is interesting how the Dutch are really disciplined about dinner time. I guess that’s probably related to consideration for the people who serve them the meal. And I assume it also has to do with taking care of themselves by sticking to a healthy lifestyle.
Rio Alfajri, an MSc student of International Development Studies, from Indonesia
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