Posts Tagged ‘Dutchman’

Curly Kale and glorious Geranium

December 30, 2014
The geranium

The geranium

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.

Boerenkool met worst Curly Kale and sausage

Boerenkool met worst
Curly Kale and sausage

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

A life of Lentils and Beef Eye fillets.

May 16, 2013


We have never lived the life of the miser nor of the squanderer. We followed the example set by our parents. Their main philosophy on how to survive the financial peccadilloes of a life was; don’t ever buy anything unless you have saved for it, even then, resist the temptation for buying things that are not essential. It might be a boring philosophy but it does help in the long run. Start off with living of nourishing lentils and you will feast on beef eye fillets or caviar later on

Waste not want not with a penny saved is a penny gained (gotten) are the sayings supposedly having originated in Yorkshire. In fact, the Yorkshire-men claim that it is two pennies saved. The first penny from not spending it and the second penny saved in case you would have spent it but did not. The logic escapes me a bit but as a Dutchman I might not be as fast on the penny uptake.

The Dutch have similar sayings and habits of parsimony. One famous saying “Sparen is Garen”.  Roughly translated it means, “Sparing is Gaining”. For the Latin lovers there is also; “Magnum vectical est Parsimonia,” followed with a lovely and succinct, “Acquirit qui Tuetur.” I don’t know Latin but it sound lovely and musical, at least to my ears.

Alas, the frugality that parents installed in us seems to have got lost on the younger generation. How on earth can kids spend so much time on their Iphones? Forget about mobile phones. They would not be seen dead with a normal phone as a phone, it got to be 4 G stuff with internet and hundreds of Apps stuff probabilities and has to include global surfing and 3D-printing with lots of ‘stuff like that’ or(boys) include ‘shit like that,’ girls mainly ‘stuff like that’.

I just walked past a school, a high school with, I think, mixed sexes. It’s hard to tell now-a-days. They all seem to revel in mobs of unruly hair that they keep shaking around making sure it hides their distant horizontal vision and so enables them to continually look down better at their G4 Iphone and stuff in case of a missed bullying opportunity.

Apart from most school kids walking home with their heads down intent on gadget peeking, there was also a flourishing trade going on in a mixed shop opposite the school. A steady stream of school uniform attired kids were coming and going from the creaky swinging fly-screen door.

It was one of those ancient lollie shops that used to always be opposite any school but have mainly vanished through the rapacious tactics of the big super markets. They often, but not always, had fly-blown metallic and slanting show- cases with stale custard-tarts sprinkled with dodgy looking cinnamon, meat pies from last Tuesday or the week earlier and traditionally would leave trails of stomach complaints from school kids not able to resist their hunger pangs and wait till home cooking (and stuff like that). The lamb chops with mashies and gravy has been overtaken by the take away or micro waved instant meal consumed while standing up while bowed over the 4G and stuff.

Of course, the kids would hydrate themselves with 2 liter Coke. Perhaps not a bad thing in alleviating or killing the bugs in the custard tart or dodgy meat-pie. Alas, the history of those shops catering for the school kids has just about vanished together with parsimonious penny saving.

It’s a pity because, thanks to our parents example we are now able to ditch the lentils and feast on the Angus beef eye fillet and Kipfler potato with crispy green salad. (And stuff like that)



Coffee Grinder and Washing Machine

September 23, 2010

Coffee Grinder and Washing MachinePosted on September 23, 2010 by gerard oosterman

My mum’s only consession to modernity prior to our arrival here in 1956 was a coffee bean grinder and one of the earliest washing machines imaginable. The coffee grinder was bolted onto the wall and was operated by turning a small handle. The ground coffee ended up in square glass container which needed to be pulled away from the grinder when full. Instant coffee was unheard off. Even if it had been available, no normal Dutchman would be seen dead drinking it. Forty three beans per cup! Yuk

The washing machine was far more complicated. It had a large electric motor which would drive the propeller inside the wooden oak barrel which was the heart of the machine. Backwards and forwards it would grunt and rumble, for hours on end in Revesby. My parents had shipped the washing machine over! A good move, most people were still using boilers and mangles. The barrel was made of oak slats and held together with steel bands. Very much like the wine barrels. Above this oak barrel was the wringer. It was also operated electrically and belt driven. You still had to feed in the items but the rollers would do the rolling and wringing. A release mechanism  was on top in case your tie would get picked up by the wringer strangling you to death. The water could only be put into this machine by bucket and emptying was in the same manner. 

All the above reminiscing after yet  another trip to Aldi. They have a never-ending stream of electric gadgets, week in week out. The sort of gadgets that are not hand-held but in need of bench space and electrical power points. Where do people find the space for; mixers, water coolers, food processors, milk shakers, pop-corn poppers, toasters, chainsaw sharpeners,waffle irons,electric knives, pancake makers,salami slicers, yoghurt makers, bread makers?

It is a far cry from just a coffee grinder.