Nieuws - 7 juli 2011

Crazy about sprinkles


I remember it as it were yesterday: my mother giving me a lecture because she caught me eating the sweets we usually use for birthday cake decoration. I was 8 years old and those colorful dyed mini-balls and small sticks were an irresistible temptation for any kid. 'It is just for decoration!' she used to say. And that is how all Chileans grew up with this firm belief.

Twenty five years later, great was my surprise when during a PhD course a considerable group of grownup Dutch PhD candidates were eating cake decoration sprinkles for breakfast. 'Perhaps this is something different', I thought, but when I tried some I realized that they were exactly the same thing. In the Netherlands sprinkles are called hagelslag and they are very popular for breakfast among children and adults alike. The sprinkles are eaten on toasted bread with butter.
But this is not the end of the story! A few weeks later, I got an invitation from my Department to a "baby birth celebration". I did not have a clue what this was about. It was not just the fact that a newborn baby was in its stroller saying hello to everybody that impressed me, but the fact that the cake decoration sprinkles were there once again!  But they were different from the ones eaten for breakfast. Even more colourful, these sprinkles are made of aniseed and are called muisjes (little mice). Then I learned a new Dutch tradition: when babies are born they are introduced to society in this birth celebration and parents offer beschuit met muisjes to all the guests! I could not imagine myself doing something like this at my workplace in Chile. This is definitely something typical Dutch. 
Roberto Chávez. Chilean PhD student, Laboratory for Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing