Student - 23 maart 2017

The true meaning of napkins

Even though they are highly educated, Dutch people do not have the best manners. They do not wash their hands after using the toilet, pour the water used to clean the toilet down the kitchen sink and eat food that’s been dropped on the floor. However, their weird unhygienic behaviour is especially noticeable at the table. It was really funny for me to discover that they do not know the true meaning of napkins.

For me, a Latino person, a napkin is an essential item during lunches and dinners. I live with some Dutch students in my corridor and once I had lunch with my neighbour/friend and I asked her why Dutch people do not use napkins. She exclaimed indignantly: ‘Because we are not pigs!’ That answer kept me thinking about my ‘impertinent’ question and for a few seconds I regretted asking it. Until, one minute later, she proved herself wrong: she had a bit of hummus on her mouth and she wiped her mouth with her hand.

A few days later I asked my other roommates the same question, because I wanted a more satisfactory answer. I did indeed get a more serious reply: ‘Napkins are an accessory at the table, for example at Christmas. Then we buy them in different designs and colours. They are more of a decorative item.’

So my conclusion is: Dutch people look clean on the outside, but deep down they are a little pig-like.

Fabián Gálvez, Master's student of Plant Sciences, from Ecuador

Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience of going Dutch? Send it in! Describe an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefly. 300 words max. Send it to resource@wur.nl and earn twenty-five euro and Dutch candy.

NL: Servetten

Nederlanders mogen hoogopgeleid zijn, manieren hebben ze niet, zegt Fabián Gálvez uit Ecuador. Het sop waarmee ze de plee hebben gepoetst, gooien ze weg in de keukengootsteen en voedsel dat op de vloer is gevallen, eten ze gewoon op. Bovendien gebruiken ze geen servetten bij de maaltijd. Toen Fabián aan een huisgenoot vroeg waarom niet, antwoordde die dat Nederlanders servetten vooral decoratief gebruiken, bijvoorbeeld ter verfraaiing van de kerstdis. De Ecuadoriaan concludeerde dat Nederlanders diep van binnen een beetje op varkens lijken.