You look in through the ‘curtainless’ windows of a number of houses, each as empty as the next. The Dutch never miss dinner! Where the furnishings are they all?
IKEA! Yes, the Swedish furniture store. But they’re not there to replace that god-awful Pello armchair (that appears in nearly every Dutch home I’ve been in) with an equally aesthetically sore and generic ‘designer’ Poäng rocking-chair. Most Dutch families go there for the food!
However, they don’t buy the fish, the burgers, the cakes, or even the large meatball meals: they go for the highly sought-after €1.97 car-crash banquet!
Particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the IKEA ‘restaurant’ in Groningen is packed full of big giggling kids running around with hot dogs and meatballs.
My entire first year was spent in this restaurant, enjoying multiple meal-deals at once for less than a fiver. Whilst many were outraged and disgusted when the Ikea ‘restaurant’ closed following the horsemeat ‘scandal’, I mourned. To be honest, I was a little relieved: at that price, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was eating genuine meat from a real-life animal, and not just some ground-down composite of a fictional organism that actually is just some alien pink slime rolled into a ball by a dung beetle… oh wait…
The meal-deal comes with chips, a refill drink and an ice-cream cone that you fill up yourself. Yet, (as if these Dutch families couldn’t get any cheaper) once they get their ice cream, the children are careful not to eat the cone so that they can refill to their blood-sugar level’s content!
But they’re not the only ones: the adults, as shameless as they are when putting pink sprinkles on their sandwiches, go in for seconds too! Wherever you look, there’s a Dutch dad sitting at a tiny table holding an ice cream in one hand and a hot dog in the other. What a perfect metaphorical picture: holding his ‘manhood’ in one hand and putting it aside whilst he boyishly fills up another cone with cream!