“Waar is de Meisje” (Where is the girl?) is currently causing all sorts of controversy throughout Flanders and The Netherlands due to its Dutch-teacher infuriating use of the word ‘de’ (the, masculine) instead of het (the, feminine/neutral).

This is hip-hop for echt denken!

Your move, Kanye.

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Dutch lesson of the day:
Nederlandse meisje: “Wow! Super! Die (pronounced dee) is dik, man!”
Young Dutch Girl: “Wow! Great! That is really fat, man!”

All these years of Dutch classes are finally paying off.

Tonight may have been the first time I’ve made it all the way through the news until I reached the sports report. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a sign my integration isn’t going as quickly as it should be. In any case, tonight I discovered Catherine Van Eylen, Flanders’ favourite sports reporter.

I’ve never really been able to decide whether she is as cute as a cucumber, creepy, or both. As I was going to make the post to ask you all the question, I checked my daily feeds and found Huug had only yesterday posted about Catherine’s ability to reignite his fire for Star Wars by dressing in second charity curtains.

Instead of posting my 30 second video of Catherine introducing the Flemish cyclists of the week, try your hand at translating this article by Huug!

So! Hot or not? Regardless of Huug’s insistence of star wars curtain mash up, I’m still very happy for her to read me the bicycle news of the day.

I vote “hot”, but Maybe not quite enough to get through another sports report…

Bicky Burger, finally in chip form!

In October I was blown away that Australia had decided Vegemite made a sensible decision for a chip flavor.

Lo behold my return to Belgium, and the stores are now lined with limited edition ‘Bicky Burger’ chips, commemorating one of the more unattractive members of the Belgian food chain.

A ‘Bicky’, marketed here as a burger, is in fact a sugary bun holding a deep-fried round blob of meet extracts, usually covered in ketchup and mayonnaise, and always served with a grotte pakje friet (large packet of fries). It is a staple food group for many teenagers in Belgium, though despite many attempts to stomach one, I’ve never been able to get past a single serving of fries. These deep fried burgers tickle my gag-reflex significantly more than my fancy.

Whilst I can’t condone the real deal Bicky, I didn’t even flinch at the idea of bringing home a packet of its namesake chip. They smell, taste, and look much like your typical ‘tomato’ flavoured variant, and leave a nicely unsatisfying film all around the inside of the mouth, fingers and nostrils – likely quite similar to the burger it is modeled after!

This evening I sat glued to the television hoping the best for my favourite Belgian singer Senne Guns (Yes! Guns!) to come home with the ‘Flemish song of the year’ at this years music industry awards (MIA), however was disappointed to find that the only winners were stage favourite Bart Peeters and “West Flanders’ own” Gotye.

I did however enjoy Gotye aka Wally De Baker try his hand at Flemish, nice to hear someone else sporting a bit of Aussie in their Vlaamse vocals!

Despite the awards, for some seriously good Flemish disposable pop, do yourself a favour and check out Senne Guns.

Senne is a true hero of mine and is one of the very, very few Flemish singers singing in his own language. So many local bands fall victim to the English-language bait, mumbling their way through ridiculous verse after chorus – however Senne stands up to all this as a voice not only for his generation, but also his country.

For you English speakers listening to Senne not only introduces a whole new type of cute pop but also a whole new language at the same time. What a guy!

Gotye, I’m aware the world loves you now – but take care, Senne is coming!

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Every December the Dutch Santa (Sinterklaas) bursts onto the under six scene, with his dear friends all named “Black Peter”.

Dutch Santa hails from Spain, where he and his Peters live in race-neutral harmony. Every December 6 they sail to the promised lands of Flanders and Netherlands to spread the joy of present opening and soot covered skin.

The Black Peters climb down chimneys (hence the soot darkening their skin) and open front doors allowing our beautifully dressed Dutch Santa to enter houses freely without having to suffer Black Peter’s sooty fate.

It’s such a crazy annual tradition that no doubt would not translate at all to other cultures. For a country still nursing a very recent hangover of atrocities performed in the Congo last century, I find it very strange that such little noise is raised over this annual tradition of white leader and his “black followers”.

Perhaps though this is just my over sensitive Australian eyes not spotting an innocent childish tradition over my own queasiness of racism. In any case I’m curious to speak with more Belgians to know their opinions on our Peters!

Smiths Vegemite chips

Back home in Australia for a few weeks, only to find the Australians have taken their love of Vegemite to the logical conclusion..

Good grief. Going to try my hand at Stoverij for the family tomorrow, having tracked down a couple of rather expensive Chimay Blau bottles, and discovering that cows in Australia do have the same types of meat as they do in Belgium.

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For reference, the restaurant selection at Brussels airport is so poor that a burger (allegedly intentionally) misshaped into a heart is actually the best option.

Came with a salad and a beer. Nice one Belgium.

Reading through my blog stats, I found that the majority of visitors aren’t coming to hear about which Belgian beer I fancy or where I want to get my next pizza. Rather, they’re coming from a google search for my son has a large penis, which brings unsuspecting surfers to one of my all time favourite Flemish television sketches: This is my son, and he has a very large penis!.

For reference, the dutch word for penis is penis, or Lid (literal translation ‘member’), as it is referred to in the sketch.

Just a few Mondays ago I threw all my undies in a bag, collected all the change from all the pockets and hit the road, stopping off in Lyon and Cote de A’zur before hitting the final destination: Italy’s (and possibly Europe’s) finest retreat: Piemonte.

Nestled up between Turino, Milano and Genova, the hills of Piemonte offers some of the best wine regions in the world, delightful restaurants and incredibly beautiful (and cheap!) B&B’s.

One of the best pieces of advice for any new region is to track down a local’s favourite restaurant. Be warned though asking a local about food may lead to a very long discussion (and almost certainly only in Italian) – so just learn to nod and agree and keep your most-likely-non-Italian-ear trained for Nouns. This is probably my next best piece of advice. Listen for street names, type of cheeses and wines. If you don’t speak the local tongue do your brain a favour and skip the pronouns, articles and verbs and stick straight to the important bits by listening for names of cheeses, wines, restaurants and any other useful noun. Adjectives might also prove useful just in case the person you’re talking to makes a clear distinction between “shit”  and “fantastic”.

Whilst staying in Villa Pallavicini (amazing people making amazing wine), we asked around for a good pizzeria. The general response was to head direct to Pizzeria da Pietrino, famous for their astounding menu of ‘crema’ based pizzas. Proprietor”Little Peter” has long moved on from the all too familiar pomodoro ‘n cheese, opting instead for brocolli, aubergine, truffle or even salmon as the foundation of his creations.

Check the menu out below,  set your taste buds to jealous, and then book your summer holiday ASAP – Piemonte is calling!