Going Dutch in Germany

Dutchies are notoriously prudent, to the extent that the English-speaking world turned this national characteristic into a good few proverbs and sayings. Dutch treats, Dutch dates, doing Dutch and going Dutch: all of these indicate that you better bring your wallet, as you’ll be expected to pay for yourself.

When going to a restaurant in the Netherlands in good Dutch fashion every bill is split among the attendees at the end of the night, not equally, but each paying exactly what he or she had ordered. Taking into account that uncle had three glasses of wine and a dessert and grand-mother only drank one orange juice, in this way we make sure that no one pays more than would be fair.

Abroad going Dutch usually raises an eyebrow or two. Foreigners have a hard time understanding why the calculators get out when the bill arrives, thinking perhaps that the pleasure of each others’ company outweighs the euro or two. They might not want to get into that hassle that is trying to determine what everyone ate and drank, or alternatively they take turns when paying. And although a good few Dutchies these days prefer to split equally, ‘going Dutch’ continues to be the case with many of restaurant visits in the Netherlands.

Now, the waiters and waitresses of the Dutch restaurants are usually not as much in favour of ‘going Dutch’ as their customers. When asking for the bill, don’t expect them to make much of an effort to help you split. You get one bill only and are expected to hand in all money at once, causing an eternal moving game with coins and notes. If you’re lucky you can pay separately at the counter, but a good few restaurants don’t accept splitting at all.

Having lived in Germany for some half a year now, I continue to be surprised about how the bill is handled in restaurants here. No fuss about splitting whatsoever. On the contrary, many restaurants expect you to pay separately and contrary to in the Netherlands, this is offered as a standard option each and every time. ‘Do you want to pay together or separately?’ is the first question any waiter asks here when bringing a bill. They bring a huge wallet with change and separately cash the payments each guest has to do. No irritated looks, no fuss, no deep sighs. Dutch restaurants: this is how it can be done too. Indeed, ‘going Dutch’ is much more conventional and acceptable in Germany than it is back home, the country that gave the name to the tradition!

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Photo credits: Lea Latumahina/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0


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