At least in terms of food, the Netherlands have beat Germany. And here's how we know.
With the onset of the real winter, I decided to get a monthly bus ticket. It costs almost 50 euros per month, but not only allows me free trips to and from work, but on evenings and weekends Sara can ride with me. Since we were spending over 30 euros per month just getting to and from church, we thought this not a terrible deal and went for it. On the first free weekend of the valid period of my ticket, we took a trip to Vaals, the border town just 15 minutes away (by bus) from where we live. And there we saw:
These are just some of the foods that we can find in Vaals that we can't find (or that are ridiculously expensive) in Germany: canned black beans (that aren't canned in some hideous chili sauce), large jars of peanut butter, and CHEDDAR cheese! Not only do they have all of these things, but they're much cheaper than we would have expected. It must have been quite a sight for anyone watching Sara and me walk through the store, mouths gaping wide as we saw all of these treasures that we thought were gone for some years yet. We have the makings of Mexican food once again! Sauce for orzo! Cheese for macaroni! All the things that make us happy.
As if that weren't enough, we found one thing that thrust our happiness through the roof. Behold, Speculoos Pasta:
We had tasted this spread (as one of the many spreads that these Germans are serious about) with Franz and Doro in Munich. It's something like Nutella, but instead of chocolate providing the primary flavor, it tastes like cinnamon-gingerbread cookies. Yes, indeed, it is spreadable cookies for breakfast. Can breakfast get any better? I submit that it cannot. (Unless, of course, you include the actual speculaas cookies, from which the paste is made. I bought some of those cookies and made a speculoos/speculaas Oreo-like cookie sandwich. Best. Thing. Ever.)
Since that first and fateful trip to Vaals, I've been back once by myself and I'm heading back again tomorrow. It's really so much cheaper than the food in Germany, so we (or, if it's not a weekend or an evening, I) go to stock up other cheap things, like Kettle Chips, green beans, peanuts, and stroop waffeln. Sara and I are both feeling more confident in our culinary survival time on the continent. Thank you, Netherlands.