Voor spek en bonen

to count for nothing, to sit there for show, to be purely decorative Iconspeaker_3
[Dutch phrase of the week]
[voor spek en bo-nen]

Bonen When you are participating in or joining an activity and your participation has no significant impact or you don’t care about the outcome, then you can say you are in it “voor spek en bonen” (literally ‘for the bacon and the beans’). This phrase is typically used in conjunction with the verb “meedoen”: to participate.

Spek I heard this phrase yesterday when I was watching the popular Dutch reality show “Boer zoekt vrouw” (‘Farmer wants a wife’). Farmer Richard was supposed to choose from three women after spending some time with them on the farm. However, he had secretly met with one of them before their stay, thereby sealing the deal beforehand. The other women then complained that they had been part of the show “voor spek en bonen” only!

You also frequently here “voor de show” (‘just for show’).

– “We gaan zo poker spelen, doe je mee?” – “Nou vooruit, maar alleen voor spek en bonen.” 
(“We are about to play poker, will you join?” – “Hm. Ok! But I’m not playing for real…”)

– “Ga je me nu vertellen dat ik al die tijd voor spek en bonen meedoe? Daar ben ik mooi klaar mee!” 
(“Are you telling me that all this time my participation has count for nothing? A fine state of affairs, … not!”)

– “Mag ik met jullie mee voetballen?” – “Ok, je bent wel veel te klein, maar goed, dan doe je voor spek en bonen mee.” 
(“Can I play football/soccer with you guys?” – “Alright, you are in fact way too short, but ok, then you play just for show.”)

– “Ik waardeer het dat jullie me hebben uitgenodigd voor de vergadering, maar als ik niets mag zeggen, zit ik er dus gewoon voor spek en bonen bij! Dat lijkt me niet de bedoeling, of wel soms?!” 
(“I appreciate it that you have invited me for the meeting, but when I’m not allowed to say anything I’m basically here for decoration only! I don’t think that’s the way it is supposed to be, is it now?!”)

– “Voor de show”: just for show.

Related words:
Spek: pork, bacon [noun] [het spek].
Boon: bean [noun] [de boon, de bonen].
– Show: show [noun] [de show, de shows].

5 thoughts on “Voor spek en bonen

  1. Goede middag, Sander! I finally got the chance to listen to the radio broadcast from a few weeks ago. Heel leuk! Bedankte for making the time to do this. It is obviously a passion for you and the Gurus and this follower loves DWOTD! As a first generation Canadian of Dutch parents, my spoken and listening to Dutch is much better than my reading and writing. I have a Nederlands/Engels AND an Engels/Nederlands dictionary by my computer so I can spell the words I know how to say!
    Am coming to Den Haag in March! tot ziens van heel koud Ontario!

  2. Thank you for the wonderful website to learn Dutch by an interesting way.I just a beginner in Dutch learning.For a Chinese , Dutch is zo moeilijk >< especially I live in Friesland where people speak Fries in life.I learn a lot from your website.Dank je wel.

  3. @Annette – thanks for the positive feedback, I hope by reading the DWOTD it will help you remember how to write Dutch 🙂
    Veel plezier in maart in Den Haag!

  4. @Martha – I guess Chinese will be at least equally difficult for us 🙂
    Frysian is a language on its own so that is double the work for you!
    Veel succes!

  5. You might also want to tell something about the origin of this phrase.
    In the 19th century the skate races for the serious skaters were often followed by races for the poor and handicapped, where they could win food prices. Read more about it on:

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