Posts Tagged ‘croissants’

Repetition always results in ennui. ( Auto-biography)

August 6, 2015
Family living in Holland

Family living in Holland


It seems that repetition is always present no matter where or how we live. I find myself queuing at the supermarket almost daily. I still hold out hope for something to happen there. It never does. I scan other peoples shopping lists and so wish for some answers. I can see by shoppers’ eyes, they too want something more than the repetitiousness of life. A kind of unexpected surprise. The cashiers put a positive spin on things. They were told to ask for the well being of the shopper. “How are you?” And I answer, “great, thank you”. I encourage and nurture the repeating of a stupefying routine. We are all in cahoots. Yet, the sun is shining and the croissants are on special. Three for $1.99.

Was it therefore inevitable that the painting of clock dials would come to an end sooner than anticipated? Even the move to another farm to the East of Holland could only hold off the end of my clock painting career for just a while. My tolerance for routine I never mastered. Some people thrive on knowing exactly what to expect next day, next year, next decade and get nervous when they don’t. Of course, we all accept some routine. We shop and pay bills. We fill the car with petrol and stare at the bowser with keen intent. At the super market I play a silly game with Helvi and tell her the amount that our shopping will come to. I just scan all the goods on the conveyer belt and make a guess. I tell Helvi and the cashier the amount before the scanning takes place. Helvi rolls her eyes. When I get close, it makes my morning and I smile. It helps to pass the time! The cashier gives a smile too. They are all so brave.

One morning when I had set up the clock dials all in a row on the work-table, I could not get to paint another seagull. Helvi and I had done at least six months of clock faces at fifty a week. That is at least twelve hundred clock faces and at roughly four seagulls a piece, amounted to 4800 hundred seagulls, give and take a few. ( I had reduced seagulls of late. A clear sign that the end was nigh.) I packed the box of dials and drove back to the clock factory to give notice. I was jubilant and had put on the car radio. The manager understood. He too suffered the same lethargy and had a large family. He took satisfaction from being a good provider putting food on the table. He also used to go fishing in the week-ends. “It brings me peace,” he said smiling a bit. Lots of Dutch people go fishing and also like doing cross-word puzzles.  It helps and makes life bearable.

We are all so brave.

Vegemite or not

April 16, 2010

August 28, 2009


Vegemite or not… by Helvi Oosterman

Leaving your mother country, you’ll leave behind mother’s home cooking and most times also Speciality foods of your nation. In my case it was the flat Finnish rye bread, which I hadn’t encountered anywhere else on my travels. The Estonian black bread became a reasonable substitute in Australia.

Some countries of course have food to die for ; their recipes have crossed the borders and we all enjoy our spaghetti Bolognese , our Danish pastries, Russian beef stroganoff and Swedish meatballs. That’s the easy bit, but what happens when visiting or moving into a foreign land, and you are offered those countries’ less known or some of their more peculiar tid bits.

First trip to Amsterdam and you are given your first raw herring with raw onions. How’s that for a new culinary experience. Not as good as roll mops out of the jar, but not bad either ; I could learn to love this. Greek olives or dolmades are easy to like, but what about the funny drink Ouzo, that could be problematic. Sweet and sour pork, Mongolian lamb don’t need getting used to but please, don’t ask me to tackle bird’s nest soup or hundred year old eggs, ever, never..

English roast dinner even with the peculiar Yorkshire pudding goes down well, but a pea soup with a pie floating in it, a floater, they call it…good for piglets at pigs Arms maybe..?  Haggis, now that’s something that only the starving amongst us dares to touch.

season's first herring. Dutch herring eater. 

New Zealanders wrap their fish in banana leaves and bury it in sand over hot coals to cook and this of course can taste fantastic, depending on type of fish and the cooking time. Kiwi friends of ours did this once; they buried their catch in the Balmain back yard…sadly the Snapper tasted like compost and smelled like burning rubber.

Getting used to Aussie food was not so hard; it was a matter of learning to like bland or plain food; the chops and the three veg. Sometimes the greens came out of tin, especially if you were eating in a road side milk bar, on your way to Brisbane. Sister in law, having been a waitress, had had her share of difficult customers, therefore she in her turn turned ‘difficile’ when dining out. Are the mushrooms fresh, she queried. Straight out of the tin, was the Taree cafe owner’s answer.

Husband had been in Australia many a year before I came, but he had never managed to even taste Vegemite. For me it was love at first sight , I have to have it at least twice a week.Our kids couldn’t be without it either; when living in Holland, we had to do with Marmite…no match to Vegemite. The jars were cute though, ideal for my dried herbs.