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Dutch Language Lesson 101

Posted by on 9 June 2009

I bought a carton of vanille vla (pronounced as ‘fla’) in Amsterdam, thinking it was vanilla-flavoured milk. So when I opened the carton and poured the vla into my cup, I was shocked to see a thick yellowish substance pour out slowly.

“Has the milk gone bad?” I wondered.

I took a whiff of the stuff and I was puzzled because it smelled wonderful. Very vanilla-y. So I took a small sip (if you can sip a substance slightly thicker than yogurt). It tasted all right. That’s when I knew vla is not milk.

vanille vla

Photo from

I found out later on that vla is custard :P

The photo here is from (that’s Frisian Flag in English) and would have helped me somewhat because of the bowl illustration. But the particular brand that I bought only had a cow, I think. So it could have been milk, if I were to depend on the packaging design.

So the next time I wanted to buy milk, I carefully looked at the label to check if it was vla or melk. The bottle said karne melk, 0% vet. Okay, some progress here. Melk = milk. 0% vet = 0% fat. Right?

karne melk

Wrong! Karne melk turned out to be this thin, slightly sourish milk drink. It’s said to be the milk that’s left behind after all the butter’s been churned out. It tasted a bit like plain lassi (yogurt drink) and was quite pleasant. But it still wasn’t milk.

Dutch language learned the hard way. But you can be sure I’ll never forget melk, karne melk and vla ever again!

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