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On New Year’s Eve we were talking with a friend about our upcoming departure from Italy. She is a Dutch woman, so she was preparing R. for all the linguistic and cultural challenges that he would have to face.

“Among the difficult and extremely long words, among the bikes, the hard consonants and the canals, there is one challenge you will have to face”, she said “Eating a herring“.

Two years back, we spent a week in Leiden. It was the first time R. came to the Netherlands. We were walking on the street, it was probably a Wednesday or a Saturday because there was the usual market. A small crowd walked through the streets buying clothes, bread, fruit.. All of a sudden I saw R. stopping in the middle of the street, looking at a man with disgust in his face. The man had just bought a raw fish topped with a lot of onion and was now taking it by its tail and eating it all! R. looked at me with revulsion in his eyes. I started laughing, because I was used to see people eating herring since I was little, and even I a really dislike it, I didn’t find it strange.

I explained what it was, how you eat it, where you can buy it etc. He said he never ever would have tried that thing (even if he really likes to try all the typical dishes of the countries he visits).

Well, at New Year’s Eve, our friend told him about the herring again. Firstly, he said he really really didn’t want to try it, then, slowly, after she said that he wouldn’t become a “real Dutch” if he wouldn’t try it he agreed.

This long story to tell you that yesterday we walked to the Centraal Station and bought a “Broodje Haring” (Bread with herring) and to make it even more “real” he also added the onion. He sniffed it, touched it, looked at it and then.. he took a huuuge bite. He looked disgusted for a second and then said “mmh..it’s good”. He ate the whole thing and smelt for a couple of hours, but he finally had his Baptism of the Herring.

The first thing he did was telling our friend he had eaten it. She said “aaahh met brood is het voor watjes (herring with bread is for losers)”. Moral of the story: he will have to eat another herring, this time without bread, to show he’s not a watje.

PS: I am already proud of him because he tried it (I never tried it using the excuse I’m vegetarian ^^).