Dutch Quirk #23: Perform the ‘lekker wave’ if something is delicious

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #23: Perform the 'lekker wave' if something is delicious

You’re seated in a tastefully decorated Dutch restaurant, where a linen tablecloth brushes your legs, a candle flickers gently on the table, and mouthwatering, artfully designed food is placed in front of you.

Your attractive Dutch date sits across from you. As they take their first sumptuous bite, their pupils dilate in approval. Then, chaos: their hand drops the fork on the plate, swings up to their ear, and frantically waves back and forth next to their head.

Are they choking? Are they experiencing a seizure?

Nah — they just think the food is really damn delicious.

What is the lekker wave?

Welcome all to the lekker wave, a simple motion performed in the Netherlands that says “Yum!”

The rules of the lekker wave are simple: if something is delicious, you bring your flat hand to your ear or cheek and give it a little wave. It looks a little like this:


As an optional add-on, you can simultaneously choose to say “lekkerrrrrr” to show your undying approval of the dish that you’re eating. 👋

Why do they do it?

Apart from being ridiculously handy when your waiter has the impeccable timing to ask, ‘How is your meal?’ directly after you’ve taken a ginormous bite, no one knows the true origin of the lekker wave.

Anne Baker, professor of General Linguistics and Dutch Sign Language at the University of Amsterdam, told Rijmond in 2014 that the famous gesture actually isn’t a gesture at all — it’s a gesticulation.

What’s the difference (apart from eight letters?) A gesticulation is a gesture that’s used in addition to spoken language. Does it change anything? Not really — because the origins are destined to remain a deep, Dutch secret. 🤫

Why is it quirky? 

The lekker wave is ridiculously Dutch — but Dutchies just don’t know it.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #30: Send people away when they’re about to have dinner

Many Dutchies over time have been caught out waving their hands next to their face only to be met by mystified international faces across the table. Some overly enthusiastic Dutchies abroad may have even been unluckily met by an unwanted Heimlich manoeuvre.

Should you join in? 

Absolutely! The amazing thing about this Dutch quirk is that almost anyone can do it, and it will be understood — as long as you’re in the Netherlands, of course. 😉 🇳🇱

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in November 2021 and was fully updated in September 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺https://gallivantations.com
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).


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