Aap-noot-mies plate

“Aap, noot, mies, wim, zus, jet, teun, vuur, gijs, lam, kees, bok, weide, does, hok, duif, schapen.” About fifteen years ago, these seventeen Dutch words could often be heard at our dining table, uttered in a rhythmical tone by my brother and I. Our inspiration? The plates we were eating from. Developed as a teaching method for children, the iconography soon entered the commercial market and came to feature on tableware. My grandmother told me that I was not the only one learning Dutch while eating: the ladies with a Polish husband in the neighborhood would marvel about the “aap-noot-mies” products: “My husband is often tired after a day of hard work,” one would tell my grandmother, “but practicing a few Dutch words while eating is a minor commitment for him.” Another would proudly share: “We started out with just one word a day and now he nearly knows the meaning and pronunciation of all seventeen!” It proves how such a mundane object as a plate can have meaning and significance, in this case both to me and to the Polish immigrants in our neighborhood!

Year: 1950

– Monique Kil

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