Passport renewals to stop in many cities


Unfortunately, the Dutch government will stop issuing passports in Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles.

The Dutch Embassy just announced that after October 1, 2015, passport and visa applications can only be submitted at the Dutch Consulates General in Miami, San Francisco and New York, and at the Netherlands Embassy in Washington, D.C.

This is bad news for many Dutch citizens in the United States since it means their travel time to renew passports will dramatically increase. As a reminder: it is important for Dutch people living abroad to renew their passports on time. Not having a passport while living abroad can mean that you lose your Dutch citizenship.

We wrote about this in 2013 though later it seemed as if the Consulate in Chicago might be spared.

Holland's Best to close after 68 years in San Jose, CA


Holland's Best, a Dutch grocery store and bakery in San Jose, California, will be closing its doors for good by the end of the 2014.

In a letter posted on the website owner Klaas Mensonides explains that the lease of the building will not be renewed and that the store has to be empty by mid-January.

For 28 years, I felt more like a steward for the bakery keeping to its tradition. I bake all our cookies and pastries from the old and frayed recipe cards handed down decades ago by the original owner. For this Holiday Season, come stroll down memory lane for a final time at the bakery to enjoy our delicious almond cookies and pastries.

We feel rather nostalgic looking back through the years we have been of service to you. For having made us a part of your experience, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts

The business started in the 1940's as the "Holland Pastry and Gift Shop".

1614 Dutch fort threatened by proposed oil plant


The remains of the historic Dutch fort near Albany, Fort Nassau, are threatened by a proposed new oil facility. Fort Nassau, which is named after the Dutch royal family, was built in 1614 and was the first Dutch settlement in America.

The proposed oil plant will be built in the general vicinity of the 400 year old fort and there is a great risk that the fort will be destroyed forever. However, there is hope that an archeologically sound compromise can be reached -- provided that the city of Albany steps in.

Queen Maxima at the United Nations in NYC


Queen Máxima is in New York City today for the formal opening of the renovated Delegates' Lounge at the United Nations.

The room was recently remodeled by a Dutch design team, lead by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. A website by the Dutch consulate in New York has more information about the redesign, which is part of an overall update to the 60-year old United Nations building.

Yesterday Queen Máxima presented a report on micro-financing to the secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon. She serves as the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.

Dutch Consulate in Chicago might close


The Dutch consulate in Chicago might close. The Dutch government is considering a package of austerity measures that includes closing five consulate world-wide, including the mission in Chicago.

The Michigan House and Senate approved resolutions urging the Kingdom of the Netherlands to reconsider the proposed closing of the Dutch Consulate General Office in Chicago and to retain a strong diplomatic presence in the Midwest region of the United States.

The Netherlands Club of Chicago also disagrees with the proposed closing. They point out that aside from providing consular services to Dutch services, the consulate is also important to maintain strong economic ties:

Closing the Chicago office would close doors politically for Dutch businesses that have settled in the Midwest, along with Dutch businesses that are looking for new opportunities in the region. Consider the economic importance of the Midwest: 25% of America's GNP is generated in the 14 states that it covers. Three of the states in the Midwest (Ohio, Michigan and Illinois) alone are responsible for 27% of all Dutch exports to the US and the region is a rapidly growing area overall. Thus, it is of strategic importance to maintain strong ties between our two countries geopolitically.

The Netherlands Club of Chicago has started a campaign to protest the planned closures. A decision by the Dutch government is expected soon. It is likely that the government will announce their austerity plans on Prinsjesdag, September 17.

Applying for a passport or DigiD now possible at Schiphol Airport


Dutch citizens living abroad can now apply for a new passport, identity card or DigiD at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. Minister Plasterk of Internal Affairs recently opened a special service desk.

The service desk will be available 7 days a week from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm local time. Note that an appointment is required for applying for new passport or identity card. No appointment is needed for a DigiD.

A DigiD is an electronic identity card that is used for filing Dutch taxes and applying for Dutch social security (AOW). Earlier, applying for a DigiD was not possible for citizens abroad since a Dutch home address was required. With this new service desk, applying for DigiD becomes possible during a trip to the Netherlands.

To apply for the DigiD at Schiphol a Dutch passport and a working cellphone are required. The security verification requires a phone number that can receive SMS text messages. More information can be found through the DigiD help desk: or +31 70 383 70 30 (business days until 4.00 pm EST).

Dutch-American community welcomes King Willem-Alexander


Today is the investiture of King Willem-Alexander, the new monarch of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Queen Beatrix will abdicate after reigning the Netherlands for 33 years.

Queen Beatrix on Dutch-American relations

Queen Beatrix visited the United States in 1982, and this is what she said during the state dinner with President Reagan on Dutch-American relations:

"Whatever our differences, there is infinitely more that binds our peoples together. We have become partners of our own free will. Above all, let us not underestimate the strength that can emanate from a union that succeeds in safeguarding both external and internal freedom.

In view of this, I'm confident that relations between your country, Mr. President, and my own will be even closer in the future than they have been in the last 200 years."

Celebrations in the USA: "history being written"

This is the last year that Queen's Day will be celebrated, a popular party for Dutch-Americans, and it is celebrated larger than ever. The organizer of the big celebration in New York City, Sander "'t BorrelMenneke" says that the event would easily sell out its 900+ tickets.

In Washington, D.C. the Royal Embassy in collaboration with the DC Dutch is organizing a big event also, with more than 500 guests. According to spokesperson Shanti de Jongh: "The event sold out quickly, and we have a huge waiting list. People clearly feel that this is a very special event and that history is being written. Dutch people feel a strong desire to celebrate this together, in the Embassy".

There are events throughout the United States (many took place last weekend). Our event calendar has a good overview.

King Willem-Alexander

Prince Willem-Alexander and his popular wife, Máxima Zorreguieta, are frequent visitors to the US. The crown-prince participated in the New York marathon in 1992 and the royal couple paid an official visit in 2009 for the Hudson Year celebrations.

Form I-94 will go paperless


The paper version of Form I-94, the arrival and departure record for people on a non-immigrant visa, will be replaced by an automated system. Starting next week filling in the white I-94 Form will no longer be required, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Form I-94 is the official Arrival-Departure Record for people on an non-immigrant visa. For visitors, there used to be a green I-94W form which was replaced in 2010 with the ESTA system; something similar is now happening for people on a non-immigrant visa such as an H-1B, a F-1 or a J-1.

Effective April 26, 2013, non-immigrants traveling to the United States by air or sea will no longer need to fill out a paper Form I-94; CBP will automate Form I-94 using traveler information already transmitted through electronic means and CBP will create an electronic Form I-94 based on the information in its databases.

Paper copy still required in some cases

In response to this announcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that other government agencies will continue to use the paper Form I-94. Notably, USCIS and the State Department of Motor Vehicles will continue to require a paper copy of Form I-94 as evidence of their legal status in the United States. A paper copy of Form I-94 will also still be an acceptable List A document that a work-authorized non-immigrant may present to his/her employer during employment eligibility verification.

Travelers requiring a hard copy of the Form I-94 or other evidence of lawful admission to the United States will be directed to to print a copy of the Form I-94 based on the electronically submitted data. People who go through secondary inspection, such as asylum seekers, refugees, and parolees, will be provided a paper copy of Form I-94 by a CBP officer.

Queen Beatrix announces her abdication


Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands today announced her abdication. In a broadcast that was recorded earlier today, she stated that she will step down as Queen on April 30th this year and her son Willem-Alexander will become King of the Netherlands.

In her short but powerful speech the monarch referred to the fact that she will be 75 soon and that this year the Netherlands will be a monarchy for 200 years. She said: "I am not resigning because my duties are becoming too burdensome but I believe that the responsibility for our country should now be in the hands of a new generation."

The Queen made a specific mention of the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom and said that "she has always felt warmly welcome there".

I am not resigning because my duties are becoming too burdensome but I believe that the responsibility for our country should now be in the hands of a new generation. It is with the greatest confidence that on April 30 I will transfer my powers to my son, the Prince of Orange.

The Queen concluded her speech:

"I feel strengthened by the thought that making place for my successor won't be mean I have to say goodbye to you. I look forward to often still meeting many of you. I am deeply grateful for the trust you have placed in me over the many beautiful years where I've been allowed to be your queen."

King's Day on April 27

The annual celebration that until now was known as Queen's Day will be renamed to King's Day (Koningsdag) and it will be celebrated on April 27th, the birthday of Prince Willem-Alexander.

Childhood pleasures: Dutch children in the seventeenth century


In the seventeenth century, Dutch merchants and traders conquered the world seas, and the lasting legacy of this period can be found in paintings, writings, and historic cities throughout the Netherlands. This wonderful new book by Donna R. Barnes and Peter G. Rose explores a fun but lesser known aspect of seventeenth-century Holland: what was it like to be a child in the Dutch Golden Age?

The book is structured around 54 paintings, prints and drawings of children's activities. After introductions by the two authors - whose backgrounds as a professor of education and as a food historian complement each other well - the paintings are discussed in eight groups: Infancy; Saint Nicholas; Celebrations and Music; Toys and Games; Animals as Pets and Companions; Inventing Fun, Games, and Mischief; Shopping for Food Treats and Winter Activities: Outdoors. The book concludes with a short biography of the painters and artists whose works were used, and finally includes several recipes. Those are explicitly chosen to be suitable for cooking with children.

We received a review copy of the book, and spoke with Mrs. Rose. She explains: "My colleague Donna Barnes has always been very interested in how children were raised in the Netherlands in the 17th century. It is clear that a lot of attention was given to child rearing. When Donna approached me for this book, I was immediately excited. I greatly enjoyed looking at these paintings and drawings, and figuring out what they were cooking or eating ".

The sheer joy of eating a crunchy, sweet carrot.

This book is full of interesting facts and pieces of history, and the illustrations are beautiful. The authors are well-known in their fields, and their research is impeccable -- so this is a very entertaining book. The joy the authors had in writing it is apparent on every page. Mrs. Rose: "My favorite drawing is that of a young boy at the farmer's market. On his face you can see the sheer joy of eating a crunchy, sweet carrot".

The book has background stories for each of the illustrations. For example, in the Saint Nicholas section there is a short history of the speculaas cookie, which also provides a possible explanation for the name speculaas. For modern-day parents, it is fun to see the baby-walker on wheels (loopwagen) and the play chair (speelstoel), from which the baby had the freedom to "rule" his or her siblings.

The painting The Newborn Baby by Matthijs Naiveu is used to explore childbirth and rituals around it. Dutch readers will see that the contemporary "beschuit with muisjes" tradition traces back to the 17th century, when sugar-covered anise seeds were served after the birth.

The other illustrations in the book explore games and toys such as kites, marbles, dolls and doll houses, as well as outdoor activities such as horseback riding and ice skating. Dutch cooks will love the recipe for the "Doornick Apple Tart", from a 1667 cookbook -- it is very similar to modern Dutch apple pie recipes, and provides a culinary bridge to the feasts of four centuries ago.

About the authors

Donna R. Barnes is professor of education at Hofstra University. She has lectured on Dutch art and daily life at the Amsterdam Museum, the Rembrandt House Museum, and the Center for the Study of the Golden Age at the University of Amsterdam. She has curated seven exhibits of seventeenth-century art in the US and the Netherlands. Food historian Peter G. Rose is the author of The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World and six other books. In 2002 Barnes and Rose collaborated Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and Life.

This book makes an excellent gift for new parents or grandparents, Dutch immigrants, and anyone interested in the ways of the Dutch. The background stories for the illustrations make it a book you'll reach for again and again, and the practical and fun recipes in the back allow for fun parent-and-child cooking adventures. It is a must-have for those interested in Dutch life in the 17th century.

Childhood pleasures: Dutch children in the seventeenth century
Donna R. Barnes and Peter G. Rose
Paperback, 184 pages, $29.95
ISBN 978-0-8156-1002-1


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