I had an amusing language incident at a cafe near the Pieterkerk while with three visitors to Leiden, Betsy, Rob and Caitlin... We were looking for the local timely dish that commemorates the 3rd of October in Leiden, hutspot. It is made of mashed carrots, onions and potatoes.
The cafe looked nice and simple. We went inside. I approached the waitress at the bar.
Me: Pardon, heeft je hutspot?
Waitress: What? What did you say?
Me: I said, do you have hutspot?
Waitress: Oh, yes. Yes we do.
Me: Ok! We'd like some. Should I just order some now?
Me: Excuse me? We'd like to order some please.
Waitress: Hutspot? You must use the secret password.
Me: Secret password? Are you serious? What is it?
Waitress: It's Papengracht.
Me: Ok, Papengracht. Like father canal? Papengracht. Can we order some hutspot now?
Waitress: You have to go online, choose the cafe and type in Papengracht.
Me: Are you teasing me? We'd like some hutspot.
Waitress: No. It's okay. You can sit down. Here- (she writes the word papengracht on a sheet of paper for me)
Me: Umm. Thanks. We'll sit over here?
Waitress: Yes. Anywhere you like.
(We sit down. We wait. We are ignored. 5 minutes pass, then another 5 minutes. The waitress and bartender are standing around gossiping at the bar. We debate the issue, is it normal bad dutch service? Or is something the matter? I get back up and approach the bar.)
Me: Excuse me. We want to order something to eat. Can you take the order now?
Me: Do you have a menu, with hutspot?
Waitress: We only had broodjes until 3 pm but we have some tostis now. (It is 3:05pm)
Me: We'd like to order the hutspot.
Waitress: What? Hutspot? We don't have hutspot.
Me: What? That's why we sat down. You said you had it.
Waitress: Hutspot? No! I said hotspot. For wireless.
Me: Hotspot? No! We want to eat hutspot! We've been sitting and waiting to order it. We don't want wireless internet. Hutspot! Hutspot.
Waitress: (Bursts out laughing) Oh! I'm sorry! We don't have hutspot.
Hutspot is so common and popular this weekend that shops have displays in the windows, baggies full of pre-chopped onions and carrots are for sale at the market and most restaurants have signs to advertise it.
A hair salon on the Breestraat: