Navigating faith, love, and life in the Netherlands

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Talk About Potatoes

Many of the times that we decide to eat potatoes for dinner, my husband and I spend about five minutes arguing about clarifying terminology. (We do this with a smile, don't worry.)

Turns out I use very specific English words about food in general, and these words have misleading cognates in Dutch. (Cognates are words that sound almost the same and mean the same in more than one language.)

Fried potatoes - photo credit here
Example 1:
Me: "Let's have baked potatoes tonight."

My mental picture: Spuds in foil, thrown in the oven for an hour

His interpretation: "Zullen wij aardappels bakken?"

His mental picture: Peel and slice the potatoes, put in pan with some oil, wait till they're ready.

"gepofte" potatoes in oven - photo credit here

Example 2:
Me: "I'll cook the potatoes while you're on the way home"

My mental picture: Boiling potatoes in a pot

His interpretation: "Ik ga de aardappels koken..."

His mental picture is fortunately the same as my mental picture, which is confusing because I used to expect it to be different.  

Boiling potatoes - photo credit here
Example 3:
Me: "Let's fry potatoes for dinner tonight."

My mental picture: See first photo in this entry.

His interpretation: "Wij gaan aardappels frituren vanavond."

His mental picture: Use a deep fryer to drown the potatoes in oil till they are completely cooked.


"Frituurpan" - photo credit here
Dutch people love their potatoes - usually in fried form with some mayonnaise-like sauce (fritessaus). Sometimes they also come in the mashed form with vegetables mixed in - stamppot - but this is a very clear linguistic difference.

Don't mess with their spuds. 

Mr Potato Head from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 bronwyn quilliam, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio