Posts Tagged ‘holland’

lamb, curry, cream; living and cooking in amsterdam

April 11, 2008

Our kitchen in our third-floor Amsterdam apartment looked out on a wide, flat roof under which the ambulances of the city were parked. The white-blue Chevy Van ambulances would hoot their jolly Dutch warning melody (a 4-6 chord c-a-f-a) into our living room whenever they roared and squeaked out of their cave. This experience belonged to the front of the house. The roof at the back was owned by the cats and usually relatively quiet. Cats have a mind of their own. They would howl at nights, chase the gulls, fall off balconies with astonished faces, but they refused to touch the rat while it was fresh, that had experienced a major roof-climbing mishap. (more…)


surviving the shop

March 28, 2008

This is not going to be about food at all, it is my weekly rant about elbows. We are back from the store. It is Friday afternoon, and even this time, we survived. This isn’t so easy as it sounds.

I’m born in Western Germany. One would think that this prepared me for most shopping styles of the world – however, a Friday in a Swedish store makes me wonder. But let’s go generalize nation for nation. (more…)

the benefits of cheese nationalism

January 30, 2008

A friend from Switzerland, about to introduce our party to Eating In Paris, was astonished when I told him that even Holland was famous for its cheese. It belongs to this story that I have to tell the French and Dutch readers at this point that Switzerland is famous for its cheese. Cheese nationalism is universal.

(As an aside, Sweden is not at all the same as Switzerland. Look at the map. The Swedish and The Swiss have different approaches to language as well. I keep repeating these things when abroad. The problem reminds somewhat of the old Boston joke “where do you come from?” “Iowa.” “In these parts it’s actually pronounced Ohio.” [sorry, folks from Idaho, there’s only one way to tell this joke at a time])

Sweden, I wanted to tell, has no specific international cheese reputation. That doesn’t mean that some Swedish cheese isn’t good. Well, okay, some isn’t. Whatever the case, even in Sweden, one tends to become a bit vague when it comes to understanding other nation’s cheeses. (more…)

train travel tactics

December 1, 2007

[The following strategy does not work in countries where wine consumption in a public train is seen as offensive.]

We’re in Holland, the year is 1990. Every other Saturday, I travel from Hengelo, Overijssel, to the Conservatory in the Hague for maintenance of their harpsichords. The train trip takes 2 1/2 hours, the work day lasts from about 10 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. After that, I have seen seven harpsichords and three spinets, replaced a bunch of broken plectra, resolved one or two action dramas (harpsichord action, that is) and regulated one of the instruments more thoroughly. A substantial change of focus is now overdue, while a boring flat-country train trip on a Saturday afternoon is not a great prospect at all.

One wants to have a nice time, one wants to save money (no restaurant…) and one wants to spend the trip in a pleasant way. Here’s how:

I walk to the central station, ten minutes. I enter the shopping center with the guilt-inducing name Winkelcentrum Babylon. I buy:

1 piece of quiche lorraine
1 croissant
1 piece of aged Brie
1 piece of Morbier cheese
2 small pieces of different kinds of paté
1 half bottle of petit chablis or other pleasant no-nonsense dry wine

(I have thought of bringing a cork screw, a paper plate, a glass and a bunch of Belgian comic books. The train leaves 15 minutes later.)

End of story. I just mean to say, there’s no real reason to go for a chewy section of yesterday’s baguette with a squorched tomato wedge on top of a wilted lettuce leaf on top of a sad slice of dead smoked animal, a small can of Heineken for the price of three, and “coffee” in a paper mug.