In English the expressions: on a happy note or on a happier note…. imply a positive and optimistic turn or end of events. This expression also exists in Dutch, but there is a great double meaning to the word note that doesn’t exist in English. Noot can mean both note and nut in Dutch. Therefore you can have a happy note and a happy nut. My favourite Nut stand at the Leiden market in the Netherlands is called “The Vrolijke Noot”. With my beginners Dutch I always assumed that the musical notes, which are part of the stand’s logo were meant to imply a happy or singing nut. Clueless to the double meaning I thought to myself “eating nuts certainly make me happy”. Then a Dutch classmate pointed out the double meaning of the word Noot. Now that I know the full meaning it makes shopping there even more fun. I always buy the weekend mixzonder zout(unsalted).
The Vrolijke Noot may have the best name of all the nut stands at the Leiden market, but there are also some other really great places. A friend of mine who always goes to the Saturday market in Leiden frequents a Turkish stand that among many other things sells nuts. In addition to the raw nut mix she buys to snack on between classes or when she’s feeling drowsy in the afternoon, she often also buys dried fruits: like dates, apricots, cranberries and figs. This same stand also sells Turkish and Lebanese bread, tapenades, hummus, baba ganoush and tantalizing olives stuffed with garlic, almonds, feta or chilies.
Just across the way from this stand there is yet another place selling raw, roasted, mixed, salted seasoned or caramelized nuts. From this stand I usually buy walnuts and almonds. I also love dates, cranberries and figs. I’ll eat both the fruit and nuts on my cereal in the morning or as a sweet treat after a meal.
Nuts have so many health benefits. Beside giving us vegetarians a little boost of protein they are packed full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Although we all know that nuts are incredibly fatty, studies have shown that eating them may actually improve your waistline. Check out their individual properties and some great ways to use them in recipes. Like I said I love them with cereal, but they are also good just as a snack or on top of a salad. Pair them with dried fruit and you’ve got a sweet alternative to eating red meat. Dried apricots are full or iron! So to end on a Happy Noot give nuts a try and be creative there are so many choices besides peanut butter or salted cashews. You may not find the beautiful displays of nuts and dried fruits in every North American public market that you do in the Netherlands, but I know that a lot of neighbourhood grocery stores have great selections in their bulk food departments.