Posts Tagged ‘Herrings’

Herrings

January 7, 2020

IMG_0377 Herrings from Scandinavia

Please consider during these difficult times of  smoke and fire, brimstones and calamitous weather conditions, the eating of a simple herring. I know that lots of people’s lives have been upset and thrown about because of those raging fires and acrid smoke. Things are now quiet again and in some parts of Australia even a few drops of water have been recorded; time to repose and regain our momentum for the ongoing battle we might call ‘life’.

This is where the herring comes onto its own giving us the sustenance and tools to struggle on. Of course, coming from Holland I was practically brought up on a bicycle and fed daily herrings. My father told me when I was still very young (and during a stormy night) that I was born a week or two before my mother was due to eject me. It was, he told conspiratorially, that a fish bone stuck in my mother’s throat that brought on a coughing fit, et voila, there I was born of my mother’s gluttonous herring eating and I already screaming  for one myself. The doctor smacked my mother instead of me.

There are some interesting facts about herrings. Herrings generally spawn in shallows and coastal waters where they lay in levels on top of each other, millions of them. The female herring lays up to 70 000 eggs. So, herring experts inform us, which if it wasn’t for humans to catch and eat the herring and left to breed uninterrupted, they would within a short time and according to Buffon’s  calculations, produce a volume of fish twenty times the size of the earth. It would be easy to understand that that sort of volume would also mean the end of the herring mating and cavorting in the shallows. They would suffer their own demise by those tumultuous watery sexual congress without humans eating them.( post coitus)

Image result for The Dutch herring boats

Even so, in the past there have been such large shoals of herrings and so easily caught that entire fisheries were threatened by closure because of the sheer catastrophic glut of herrings. This is also why we should not forego eating herrings, especially now during stress and deep-seated gloom. A herring lightens the mood and give us the spring back in out steps. Try it, please.

The expert fishing trawlers and their skippers knew, born of legend and evening tavern talk, when the shoals of herrings were running.  They knew by the glow of their shimmering bodies and the fact they swim in strict wedge shaped formations with a pulsating glow skywards reflecting the sun falling at a certain angle. The fishermen, all peaked capped and storm coat wearing threw out their nets and lowered their sails.

Of course we don’t truly know what a herring feels. They communicate not like we do but no doubt been told that we eat them. Not a nice thing to contemplate when as young herring in puberty and growing, looking forward to an honest mating in the shallows of the Dogger Bank…only to be eaten afterwards!  When life has fled, the herring begins to glow and that’s also a reason why people buy them. They hold a fascination that other fish, like the mackerel or flat-head species don’t have.

Image result for The Dutch herring boats

Queuing for herrings in The Netherlands.

A pity that one cannot buy a fresh herring here in the southern hemisphere. The bottled or vacuum packet ones are  not the same but I intend to go to Holland (The Netherlands now, sorry)soon to catch up.

You just wait and see!

Some of this information came from ‘The rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald.

 

Reffos and Tulips.

October 2, 2018

IMG_0126 Tulips.JPG

A carpet of Tulips in Bowral.

The film ‘The Ladies in Black’, left enough of an impression for me to urge people to see it. The film deals in some parts about the influx of reffos into Australia during the fifties. That’s the period this Australian film is set in. The ‘reffo’ was a shortened term for refugees. Our family came to Australia in 1956. We were not reffos in the strictest term. Europe in Australia during the fifties was seen as a war-ravaged stain on a map. Geographical and political differences between Hungary or Holland were beyond interest or hardly known. The issues in this magnificent movie really hit home. The differences (and similarities) in cultures are what this film, in a kind and humorous way, points out. The poignancy for H and I was overwhelming. One is always pleased when things we experienced about the past, agrees and coincides with others. When pointed out in a major film, it is double pleasing.

https://theaimn.com/nostalgia-and-sunshine-bruce-beresfords-ladies-in-black/

The ambiguity of migrating to another part of the world will probably stay with me till the very end. Was the pain of leaving own country and friends worth it?  The mental dehydration suffered in foreign and strange suburbs! Those differences experienced between the locals and the Reffos during the fifties, the lack of herrings, garlic ,olives, and real coffee. The blight of the determined curmudgeon.

Australia in the fifties was a kinder and more tolerant place though. The governments of that period did not foment xenophobia nor detained refugees on hellish islands for years on end.

The present Prime Minister is a fervent Pentecostal believer. Yet on his desk he proudly shows a sign ‘We stopped the boats,’ referring callously to the detained refugees on those islands. Their punishment is used to warn and prevent refugees from trying to come to Australia. They are saying ‘if you try, and come here by boat we will lock you up on those islands for the rest of your life.’ In the fifties Australia did not try and demonise a single African group doing 1 % of crime and yet close their eyes to the other 99% of crime perpetrated by local born.

The tulips belong to a different class. Nothing scary here, dear readers. You can tell they are just there to give us pleaure.  This photo was taken this morning. There must be thousands of tulip photos being e-mailed around the world. The Tulip show in Bowral was magnificent. https://www.southern-highlands.com.au/tulip-time

It always brings me back to the time in Holland. I used to cycle to the tulip fields. Can you imagine seeing tulip fields as far as the eye can see? In different colours too. The tulips in Bowral are in cahoots with sun and clouds. I am sure they talk to each other.It dazzles and so many people taking selfies. In years to come grandchildren might find the tulip photos in drawers and wonder about the lives at earlier times.

Try and see ‘the Ladies in Black’, and the Tulips.

 

 

Woe those that save and live frugally

March 6, 2017

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There is always that pull to and fro of our past. Some say, don’t look back. But with age comes an oversupply of what has been and much less of what is yet to come. I am talking of time, not substance. It’s most unlikely that at the age of seventy-seven one contemplates joining the army or seek a career in investment banking. Sure, some go climb mount Everest or take up the piano, but most contemplate things and end up rummaging around in memories. I do.

One of the good things that was ingrained still occupies my train of thoughts. It was one my parents main input. ‘Live within your means. Save for what you want and don’t waste.’  This was also reinforced by the political system back in Holland. The era of consumerism never took The Netherlands in the same way it was embraced by Australia. Buying things on credit was unheard of. Today, this very different and the credit card is also embraced. Even so, some national habits are well ingrained. I believe even eating raw herrings is as much a pastime now as it was when I lived there. Saving is still held in high esteem.

This might well be the reason that of all the countries in the world, The Netherlands now hold the enviable record of 103 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth.  While much of that growth is contributed to cutting welfare and taxes and giving corporations greater freedom, Holland still enjoys a generous welfare system. Excluding costs of education, Holland spends 24.3 % of GDP (Gross Domestic Products) and comes in fairly high on the list of welfare spending. Australia spends 18% and  this is towards the lower end of world’s foremost economies. The US is the fourth lowest on welfare spending at 14.8%.

The Dutch pension gets paid irrespective of being poor or rich. Everyone who turns 65 gets it. It is a state insurance scheme whereby every one who works or has worked in the Netherlands gets a pension when turning 65. It is roughly 2% for every year that one has worked in Holland

http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Social-welfare-spending/%3E-%25-of-GDP/Excluding-education

This is all about our experience on how saving in Australia is being punished.  Since about two months ago the government changed tack on pensions. Those with savings above a certain limit would either get the old-age pension lowered or totally taken away. We lost our pension. It seems, that in Australia it is best to whoop it up and spend, spend. Burn your money, go gambling, load up your credit card, run up debts. You will ensure you get the pension.

https://www.svb.nl/int/en/aow/wat_is_de_aow/wie_krijgt_aow/

And by the way, the Dutch pension is about 70% 0f average wage instead of 40% in Australia. So, next time you hear Turnbull or Morrison going on how Australia is some kind of social paradise. It is NOT. We are pretty stingy when it comes to social welfare.