As I walk through a particularly busy part of Amsterdam on my lunch break I notice two girls across the street. I’d seen them there several times before, every day in fact. They were always standing outside the shop where they work, both wearing aprons and holding a plate of free samples which they would offer to passers-by.
At this particular moment on this particular day they had attracted the curiosity of a short middle age couple who were walking towards them. One of the girls notices this, holds her plate a little lower and asks if they would like a free sample. The man who seems the most interested picks up one of the free samples and sniffs it cautiously.
Between them the two girls start to happily explain what it is and that their shop sells a lot more of them inside when suddenly he does something that (it seems) neither of them were expecting; he takes a great big bite.
There is a sudden look of horror on the girls’ faces. The man simply looks confused. The two girls suddenly start talking very fast, trying to stop him from doing it again. They are too late. As if in hope that the taste might get better with a second try he takes another bite.
But the taste does not get any better because these two girls are not giving out free samples of cake or sweets or anything else tasty or edible for that matter. No. They are giving out free samples of soap.
The man slowly starts to chew.
Suddenly realizing that he is a tourist who does not speak any Dutch or English, the two girls resort to sign language. One of them starts to frantically mime bathing with an imaginary bar of soap while the other repeats the word ‘soap’ over and over again in a desperate attempt to stop him swallowing.
This only results in the tourist looking even more confused as he tries to work out what on earth these two very strange girls are doing and why they would have given him such terrible tasting candy.
Eventually he decides that he has tried enough. He spits the mouthful back into his hand and shakes his head apologetically at the two girls as if to say sorry but in his opinion their baking is not very good. He walks off, talking to his wife in a foreign language (probably about the strange eating habits of other countries) and throws the sample in a nearby bin.
The girls, looking slightly stressed, breathe a sigh of relief.
I carry on walking down the street, chuckling to myself.
A few days later I returned to pick up my own sample for this photo. The first thing one of the girls said to me was, “Do you speak English? Don’t eat this. It’s not food.” It seems they are not keen to repeat the incident with the soap snacking tourist.