It is this time of the year that anyone with even a smidgeon of Dutch blood lusts after Curly kale in mashed potatoes with smoked sausages. Here the weather for this extraordinary dish has been perfect. Morning temperatures have been steadfast at 13c. Both heaters are switched on because it is now summer. I mean winter instead of summer. In Holland, fifty thousand people are expected to take a dip in the North Sea on New Year’s day. The sea water at present near the Dutch coast is a balmy 8c. Normally it is around 6c. As an incentive, curly kale with mashed potatoes and sausages are promised after the swim. Who can resist that? And it is all ‘free.’
At last year’s event a few gate crashers had invaded the event. Organisers became suspicious when the same people kept on claiming this delicious kale dish over and over again. They spoke in a funny Dutch accent. Some said they were Scottish, others thought they were Yorkshire men! In any case, who would deny Curly Kale to the hungry? This very Dutch dish is the pride of the nation, almost an institute. It used to be obligatory like National Service but was disbanded in 1982 when, with many migrants from Morocco and Algeria, the influx of foreign dishes became so great, the law on the obligatory Curly Kale was relaxed and abandoned. Curly Kale is now under threat from Tahini and Humus. The tradition of Dutch Curly Kale eating is probably more maintained in migration countries such as Australia and Canada than in Holland itself which has probably evolved dietary habits well beyond Curly Kale eating. If you see a lonely man in a shopping mall eating by himself and sobbing a bit, it could well be a home-sick Dutchman with his Curly Kale.
It is curious that even in language the period of past migration often expresses itself through dishes and words in use at the time of peak migration. My Dutch is now seen as rather ‘funny’. I use words popular in the fifties with even complete expressions having been usurped by change in language usage. What hope have we got that meaning of words are not set in concrete? The very meaning can change. Kids use the expression of ‘that is really cool’, meaning very acceptable and nice, and has nothing to do with temperature.
It is just as well I have Helvi’s sense of beauty and steadfastness around. With her I can stay sane and focussed. Just look at that Geranium that she spotted outside a garden-nursery. What beauty and giver of peace and serenity. Just look at it!
Can it get any better?
A Happy New Year to all from
Gerard and Helvi