Tuesday, July 15, 2008

N is for Neut

The dictionary definition of neut [pronounced - (vaguely) note] is a small glass with strong drink. This is according to Fred. It's usually with jenever, which is a Dutch gin that isn't really like gin at all - if your thoughts of gin run along the lines of the gin found in the US. It's still got that juniper berry component, but it doesn't have such a strong bit.

Jenever [pronounced - yuh nay fer] is usually served ice cold and in small shots. This is a shot of scotch, which I promptly poured right back in the bottle. Something about the smell of whiskey in the morning that grosses me out.

There's not a lot of 'strong drink' served at the parties I've been to here. It's either that it's a wine and beer kind of place, or that we run in a wine and beer sort of crowd. Of course it's available in bars and stores, but that's the norm in my world. The book that I just consulted, Dutch Delights, says that the younger set considers jenever an old man's drink and prefers mixed drinks and cocktails. Again, I've just seen the beer and the wine. I guess I'm somewhere in between the younger set and 'old man.' (How long can I hold onto that position?)

One of the best things about cocktail hour here (the hour or two before a dinner party where we all sit around and chat and sip our beverage of choice) is the snacks. They have some great ones here. Peanuts that have been coated in a crust and then rolled in some sort of salty concoction are a standard, and a new favorite are these little wafer and cheese delights that our friend, Monique, kept referring to as "dominoes" possibly because of their shape: rectangular and layered, but with no dots. Fred's favorite is spicy, crusty peanuts that have a bite. A lot of these things are available in the US, but they are so available here.

My other choices for N were neus (nose) and then a couple of words that I won't mention. (If you speak Dutch, you probably know which words I'm talking about.) Interestingly, we were talking to some friends the other day and one said the word "neger." It's pronounced nay-ger, but sounds very similar to the N-word. It always makes me jump a bit. They saw me bristle and said, "No. It's a very normal word. It just means negro, a Black person." Granted, but I won't be adding it to my lexicon of Dutch words. I'll just pass on that one and use alternate words.

Drinking here is very different from anything I grew up with. My parents wouldn't have run in these crowds. And they're certainly not wild crowds at all. They just didn't drink. And people who did drink were questionable folks.

Bottoms up.

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