Posts Tagged ‘Scotsman’

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

The revenge of the Scottish Lawnmower Man

February 2, 2011


Where we live gardens are of the most importance. Even the name of ‘Southern-Highlands’ seems to evoke gardens. Possibly gardens from Scotland. Indeed, there is a yearly event here whereby the ruddy Scots and their descendents celebrate a festival. Many then wear kilts and play bagpipes. There are also shops that sell stuff related to far away Highlands.

There are items reminiscing of all things England as well. Lots of those interior shops with knots of lavender flowers, lavender sachets, lavender soap, lavender curtains, lavender make up, posies of Queen Anne lace with Babies Breath. All artificial of course but looking real enough for me to touch them, just to make sure. There are endless wreaths which makes me wonder if wreaths serve other celebrations apart from funerals? Some of those are made from twigs cleverly intertwined and very bleached looking. I believe people hang those at the back of bedroom doors. Perhaps a reminder that the party doesn’t go on forever! “Stop mucking around and go to sleep,” the wreath seems to be saying late at night, just when hubby might get a late twinge.

As always there are exceptions to those lush gardens. I noticed an exception on my twice daily walk around the block with Milo. There is one 1950’s free standing solid brick house with just a lawn. Just a lawn and nothing else, no trees, do shrubs, but not a blade of grass out of place, and at dusk the house in totally darkness from the outside. Not even light escaping underneath the front door nor a shimmer through the blinds and curtains. The whole aura of that house is one of ‘spick and span.’

Yet, I know it is occupied. The lawn gets mowed every few days. A solid ruddy looking man in short shorts and with a sloppy hat pushes a lawnmower. He pushes as if his very life depends on it. He greets me with a nod, so there is an ongoing form of communication and I am hoping I’ll pass him just when the mower has run out of petrol or when he is just finished to try and get a bit of his story. I have also noticed in my much earlier Revesby days, that there are gardens that are well kept but the ‘well kept of it’ is just the lawn.  There were no trees, no shrubs, no flowers, just a beaten down lawn.

It’s not just the well kept lawn but also the well kept concrete footpaths. The grass is cut to the path with some tool called an edger that cuts through the grass, roots and all and give the edges an almost crew-cut appearance, the concrete path being the ears whereby the grass has been trimmed around.

I can understand an overgrown garden with neglect clearly the culprit. What I find harder to reconcile is that some go through extremes to not have anything growing but also to beat down the growing grass so relentlessly. Is it some kind of revenge? Is it a revenge of the Scot?