Posts Tagged ‘wine and cheese’

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.

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cutting the cheese

November 20, 2007

This is a post about fairness and cheese. When I lived in a single room someplace north of Haarlem (Holland), one day a French fellow student called me asking whether he could come by with a few Friends who wanted to see my harpsichord. I had been to Paris and gone to see people’s harpsichords myself, so I was familiar with the true objective of these visits: wine, bread and cheese consumption. I told my friend to come, went out in a hurry and stocked up on goods. It was a close call at that: Dutch supermarket baguette at that time was pretty embarrassing, the cheeses I found in the delicatessen shop were great, but too cold, and the wine shop was just about to close when I arrived.

Eventually, two carloads of people arrived, and soon my place was overflowing with assiduously discussing and munching musicians, who did not mind me and my slow French too much, but seemed to enjoy the cheese and wine reasonably well. Unlike Bilbo, who had to run about (more…)