News - February 7, 2013

Croquettes from the 'Dutch Toko'

Suzanne Overbeek

Who? Elise Mennes, MSc Nutritional Physiology & Health Status
What? Research on the effect of aging on fat metabolism
Where? University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

'Canada is vast. To go home for Christmas, students have to fly several hours. Or their parents have to drive for 20 hours to come and visit them. That made me realize how little we Dutch take advantage of the fact that there are so many beautiful countries and cities less than a day's drive away from us.
I wanted to go to an English-speaking country and I thought Canadians were probably nice. And they were. They are incredibly polite. If two Canadians bump into each other, they both say sorry. In the Netherlands, the standard response is, 'Watch where you are walking'.  My friend and I were known as 'the European girls'. A Russian friend of mine though we had more sense of style than the Canadians, who in her view all wear joggers, hoodies and Uggs. She did have a point.
The students at the lab have a very informal relationship with their supervisors. They crack jokes and chat like equals. I had to get used to that, as I am used to a much more formal relationship with my supervisor. And in Canada it doesn't matter what time you arrive or what time you leave, as long as you do what you are supposed to do. There isn't a nine-to-five mentality. It is much less structured, there are fewer rules and no one wears a lab coat.
The Canadian accent too some getting used to. They say 'aboot' instead of 'about' and 'oot' instead of 'out'. It sounds strange at first. And they'll put all kinds of things in the toaster. From potato cakes to a raspberry and cream cheese toaster strudel. I tried out all sorts of strange products that were for sale in the supermarket. Great fun. And if I was tired of trying out news things and wanted some typical Dutch food, I could go to a deli in Guelph called the Dutch Toko. They even had croquettes there, although they were meant for the oven because they have never heard of a deep fryer in Canada. That was a bit of a disappointment. The first thing I ate when I got back to the Netherlands was a real, deep-fried croquette. Delicious.'