I moved here to the Netherlands in August, and everything has been new (aka overwhelming). I sadly only speak about three words* in Dutch so far, but I LOVE living here! So, I’ve been trying my best to fit in, but I’m short (by Dutch Standards anyway), I am not a natural born flower arranger, I do not like mayo on my french fries OR frites, and I do not eat cheese with dry bread twice a day. But I do like mustard, and don’t get me started on bitterballen!
My father grew up here, but honestly that doesn’t help; I can’t pronounce anything. So the struggle has been real folks, and my potential Dutch-ness is not fooling anyone, but I’m TRYING…
A few weeks ago at HEMA, I found a really exciting product – Stroopwafel self-heating face mask. Full disclosure: stroopwafels are one of the reasons I moved to this country. If you haven’t had them, you are missing out. They are delicious little wafer-waffle cookies filled with caramel. Stroop means syrup (1st Dutch word!) And I’m a sucker for random at home face masks, usually to celebrate something, but a boring Sunday afternoon is also an entirely appropriate occasion in my book.
It was a rainy dreary grey-skied day, and I had been locked inside all day marking math exams and writing student reports. The last problem I needed to grade was an Induction Proof, and I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. My brain hurt. My fingers cramped up. There was no joy left in my life. I couldn’t even get comfortable on my couch. And then I decided I just needed a tiny reward for my perseverance on a weekend. And then, as if a higher power heard my pleas for intervention, in my fidgeting, I got poked by the corner of the mask packaging that had gotten lost in my couch cushions.
It has directions in English, but I wouldn’t call them actual instructions, and I don’t actually know what it’s supposed to do beyond “Warming and Cleansing.” The mask smells like Mary Jane candy. You know that hard nougatty, yellow-wrapped candy that my grandma and I (and, amazingly, Christine) both loved and everyone else hated.
After slopping the stroop onto my face, there is immediate warming. I don’t know how it works, but it feels alright. Not burning, just warm and tingly, like a warm stroopwafel, fresh at the market on a cold Saturday morning. And sticky (also like a fresh stroopwafel). Analyzing most of my senses, the experience is almost exactly what I would expect from rubbing candy on my face. Also, I’m hungry now.
There is no recommended time on the package, but after about 8 minutes it’s stinging enough that I’m running through the house, up the stairs to wash it off. My skin feels pretty good now, and the slight stinging was more invigorating than painful. I’m definitely going to try this again, perhaps the next random Sunday afternoon that I’m bored.
I definitely feel more Dutch now that I have smeared the best food they have in this country all over my face. Don’t worry, this does not mean that I will stop trying to pronounce the G’s. I do think that I will be drawing the line here though, I don’t feel the need for herring or bitterballen face masks.
*The events depicted here actually took place in October, and it’s now January. I have learned several more words, and my favorite Dutch phrase, “Ik heb een stevige borrel nodig,” which translates to “I need a stiff drink!”
ETA – For those of you who were concerned, I did in fact finish grading those exams, proofs and all.