Archive for the 'food' Category

Vruchten van de Zee

Today was market day in Leiden. It’s a 5 minute bike ride up Niewe Rijn from me. The lines of vegetable, cheese, and Lord knows what stalls are very crowded, but it’s fun. I finally had herring! In this case, haring broodje. It’s herring and onion in a bun. It was…interesting. Like sushi, but less tame. But it’s not bad. I could have it again, as long as I carry gum with me this time.

So let’s try this music thing again. I can’t promise that they song will always match the post. La Mer, the herring; the connection is pretty obvious. And the song is quite good. I’ve always been a fan of the Bobby Darin version, Beyond the Sea, but this one is pretty sweet.


Download: La Mer by Charles Trenet

Padma Parvati Lakshmi

So I decided to bring back the Mooi Vrouwen section. I might as well herald it’s return with a shout out to the brainy and stunning Padma Lakshmi. What’s more perversely cute than a stick thin supermodel who can cook? Answer: Nothing.

Although we may never know why she married Salman Rushdie (yeah, yeah, brilliant writer, yeah, yeah, knighthood, yeah, yeah) but we all make mistakes. I just can’t wait for a new season of Top Chef. You can also (occaisionally) see her on Globe Trekker on PBS.

I’m so excited! I’m so— scared.

I’ve been browsing for recipes to play with next year. So far, I’ve been on epicurious, the Whole Foods recipe section and the BBC’s Good Food website. I don’t know whether the stove in Kaarsenmakerstraat is gas or electric. Worse comes to worse, I’ll set a garbage can fire in the yard and roast a whole pig. Just kidding. It’ll probably be too cold over there for outdoor cooking.

I’ve been watching ton of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares lately. At first, I balked at the idea of watching a screaming chef, but after seeing a few episodes, I realized that he was screaming for reason: most of the people on the show have no clue.The kitchens are in all kinds of states, from unhygienic to crowded with useless appliances. The menus sometimes have hundreds of items for each course. There’s all kind of hazardous activity going on.

I guess all I can do is try to eat the right things, read the right books, and never stray 5 yards from a mirror. But even then, the fear won’t end.

It’s very scary to know that it’s possible to go through life that blindly. That possibility is on my list of new and cringe-worthy fears. Sometimes I worry that no matter how much I learn, no matter how much I try, I’ll miss something major. It’s sort of the intellectual equivalent of leaving the bathroom with part of your skirt sticking in your underwear.

Random anxiety aside, growing up is nice. I need to find a decent cookbook; preferably for quick, healthy meals on a student budget. Any suggestions? And does anyone know if they sell Vitamin Water in the Netherlands? I forgot.

Ze other punishment

Despite it’s place in the name of this blog I rarely write about “Amherst College”, where I’ve spent the last four years of my life and where I am graduating from in a matter of weeks. I wrote about Amsterdam while I was there and I write about the outside world now, but Amherst’s interest for me mostly lies in interpersonal relations. Besides, if I did make blanket statements about the college, I’d be dumping four years of mixed feelings and frustrations out onto you.

As I told one of my professors earlier this week, I didn’t choose Amherst with much enthusiasm. Conversely, Amherst didn’t really choose me: my name just happened to be pulled from the wait list. Had that not happened, this blog would have been called Wesleyandam. (Well, at least the name worked out.) Since I’ve gotten in, I’ve toyed with the idea of transferring out way more than I should have. If you know me, you probably know why. I love the academics, but I’m not crazy about a lot of the people. Another reason to leave comes to mind when I see articles like this.

Now, Amherst will probably hate me for saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway: the food at Amherst College is a nightmare when compared to other similarly ranked colleges. What we have at Valentine Dining Hall is not fresh, it alternates between overcooked and undercooked, and they have no concept of seasoning. No concept whatsoever. Yes, high school senior who happened to Google “Amherst College”, “dining hall” etc. while doing some post-acceptance research and found this page. It’s true: this food’s really nasty. You will be sick, very sick at least until the end of orientation. I lost eight pounds in my freshman year, and I won’t get all of them back until I leave. Unless, of course, I start drinking as heavily as too many people here do. Please take this into consideration when you choose. I wish I had.

Mmm…

Dutch Word of the Day
het hunkeren:
a craving
Ik hebt het sterke hunkeren naar salm en komkommer.
I have a strong craving for salmon and cucumbers.

I’m really missing Sanday’s Bakery in Amsterdam something fierce. There really is nothing like it here. I love my prepackaged sandwiches. It was nothing like the ones at Subway or anything; they use regular bread instead of that fluffy French/Italian kind. Albert Heijn offered comparable knockoffs as well. Salmon and cucumber versions not only includes 2 out of 3 of my favorite foods (the 3rd is scrambled eggs), but they’re also pure and decadent perfection.
But loved getting the Sanday’s ones near Leidseplein before going to Vondelpark. It’s just wonderful. Someone needs to bring it stateside.

I can has automat?


Dutch Word of the Day
om te beweren: to pretend
Zij moeten ophouden bewerend te Febo zijn.
(Update: The correct sentence is “zij moeten ermee ophouden te doen alsof ze Febo zijn”. )
They must stop pretending to be Febo.

(By the way, could someone fire me a correct sentence? This can’t be right.)

So there’s a Febo-esque automat on Saint Mark’s Place called “BAMN!”. It looks like a cleaner, pink version of the one’s I saw in Amsterdam. It’s all coin operated, which is all well and good when you’re dealing with euros, but a little hassle with dollars. (Since single and 2 euros are all in coins, whereas we have single dollar bills and cumbersome numbers of quarters, dimes and nickels.) The funny thing is that they have “krokets” with the Dutch spelling. I’m tempted to buy one in order to dissect and compare it with the one I tried in Holland. (Note the singular.)

I can say this now without any bias: Antillean krokets are ten million times better than the Dutch ones. They’re more solid, taste better and won’t drip when you bite into them. The Dutch ones have this soupy pale filling that I can’t stand. The only good thing is their exterior. As for their New York counterparts? Stay tuned.

Dutch Word of the Day verjaardag:birthday Er was …


Dutch Word of the Day
verjaardag:birthday
Er was mijn verjaardag aan dinsdag!
It was my birthday on Tuesday!

Sorry for the vacation. I’ve been quite busy. It was my 21st birthday on Tuesday. Tons of fun a food. Speaking of which, American Burger Co. near Herald Square serves fries with mayo. It’s amazing. I missed that so much.

Breakfast Suite II:Molen Groen


Dutch Word of the Day
molen: mill, windmill
Er staan molens in mijn melk!
There are windmills in my milk!

It seems fitting to follow a cereal entry with a milk entry. I was delighted to see windmills on my soy milk carton; I love finding random Netherlandsness, in case you haven’t noticed. This is some kind of sweepstakes from Silk that involves an extra green incentive. Check it out if you want. I like trying to eat/live healthily. I’m going back to gym for the first time since Holland. FINALLY.

On a more windmill oriented note, I didn’t see a ton of old school ones when I was in Holland. And there weren’t many modern ones in the city, even on streets with the word “molen” in them. But there were many outside of the city. Not as cute as their kitschy older predecessors, but apparently very effective. They were originally there to keep to water pumped off the land. I wish we’d catch onto wind power a bit more over here.

Breakfast Suite: Kashi Cereal

Dutch Word of the day
ontbijt: breakfast
Ontbijt is een prachtig ding.
Breakfast is a wonderful thing.

While I was in Amsterdam, I actually dreamed about this cereal. It wasn’t sold in Amsterdam so I had to replace it with Cruesli which doesn’t even compare. I don’t like Kashi Go Lean plain, I definitely prefer Crunch. It’s amazing. I think this will have to replace Cracktella and the Ferraro empire for me… at least for the time being.

There are still different food I miss, particularly Komijn Kaas, which is this amazing cheese with cumin seeds. It’s very expensive here, but bearable over there. I miss that a lot. I had an amazing toaster that would make grilled ham and cheese. Too bad I had to leave it there. I need to find the American equivalent and drag it to Amherst in the fall. In addition too a pancakes and booze party revival, there will be a grilled cheese soirĂ©e. Be there.

In order to find new addictive things to eat, I’ll need to stay out of my comfort zone and eat my way through strange and foreign lands. I’ve been trying to figure out where I should go next, international adventure wise. But I don’t want to change the name of the blog if I do. Brazilherst? Japamherst? Amhartica? That ain’t cute.

Since I Packed the Dictionary Away: PartIII

Things I’ll Miss:
Biking
Walk to Wok
Hearing Dutch everywhere
Pannekoeken aan elke hoek!
Evil Dutch Professor (for real. he’s hilarious!)

Things I Won’t Miss:
The Euro
Bad Internet
Lack of a campus feeling
Drug/Anne Frank tourists (the only thing they have in common? the nuisance they cause)

Damn, it feels good to be Wil Graanstra

Dutch Word of the Day
frites: the Dutch take on french fries
Mag ik de kliene frites met mayonaisse hebben, alstublief?
May I have the small fries with mayo, please?

That’s one sentence I’ll miss saying. The mayo they have here is not like the one we have in the states, and it tastes amazing on fries. The best frites I’ve had so far have been from Wil Graanstra’s stand near the Westermarkt. They aren’t too think, like some of the Moaz one’s can be, and the sauce is alright, unlike the kind Dutch McDonalds sells. That and the dude who sells them is hilarious. The stand closes at 6:00. I guess got there at 6:05, cause:

Me: Could I have the small frites with mayo please?
WG: Nope.
Me: Why not???
WG: The day’s over. I’m going home. Goodbye!
Me: (looking sad)
WG: Sorry. (shrugs) Or you could preorder them, pay now, and I’ll have them for you tomorrow if you want.
Me: It’s OK. I’ll be back.
WG (“Arh-nold” Schwarzenegger voice):I’ll be back!

See what I put up with? Dutch people can be sarcastic in two languages. It’s kind of scary. But of course, I did come back.

He’s in a great location, right by the Anne Frank Huis and the Westermarkt. The guy’s probably making bank everyday. (Or just sick of giving confused tourists directions to the Anne Frank Huis. “It’s right around the corner. You’re not far at all.”) If I was here for a year rather than a semester, my frites purchases alone could send his kids to college. Not even affordable euro- college. I’m talking over priced American college.

If I need to be rolled back to America, blame him.

More like "Heineken BOO-ery!"


Dutch Word of the Day
druk: busy, crowded
De Heineken Brouwerij was veel druk.
The Heineken Brewery was very busy.

Sorry it took me so long to back to this. I don’t know why, cause I’ve been meaning to hate on this place all week.

So my brother Martin (aka Martlock, cause he’s a lawyer now) came to visit me this past weekend. It was Pentecost and everything was closed so it made it difficult to get around, but we managed. We went to to Pancake Bakery first, which was amazing as usual despite some sloooooow service. Then we decided to go to Heineken Brewery.

I thought the Anne Frank line was serious. Nope, the Brewery was even more special. But with the 11 euro entry you get three beers and a free gift (which you, thankfully, won’t get at the Anne Frank Huis). So we waited and eventually got in. It’s a very Disney looking place, all things considered. There were brightly colored displays and exhibits, and something that looked like a scene from the Haunted Castle, except involving the scientist who helped develop some kind of yeast. Basically, it’s for beer nerds.

Things were going great until we got sucked into this inexplicably long line. It was supposed to be a quick five room walk through showing the different elements that go into beer, but it was packed. We stood on it for what felt like a half hour. Turns out that there were two lines: One for the rest of the exhibit, and the other for a “ride.” Since we stayed on the line for long enough, someone (Martin) suggested that we might as well go on the ride.

OK. So this ride was supposed to mimic what it feels like to be a bottle of beer in the factory. We had to stand in a small movie theater looking room, hold some bars for safety and watch a screen, while the thing we were standing on rocked, simulating the movement of a bottle on the conveyor belts.

I was angry within seconds of getting on this “ride.” This was embarrassingly bad. This terrible music was playing in the background and none of the shots were even trying to be continuous. My brother and I just laughed the entire time. It ends with you, the “bottle”, getting put into a box and shipped somewhere. That box is then opened in a bar, and the tune “Celebrate Good Times” by Kool and the Gang plays. That’s when we really lost it.

At least we got beers at the end. But honestly, if they wanted to make us feel like bottles of beer, they should have filled us with alcohol first.

Law & Order: Leidseplein

Dutch Word of the Day
rechter: justice
Nederlandse rechter is altijd bloedig.
Dutch justice is always bloody.*

My room is on the sunnier side of the building, so it turns into a greenhouse during the day. I took a nap this evening and left the window open. Even then, it was still hot when I woke up and I didn’t have anything in the fridge to drink. And Albert Heijn was closed. So I biked to Leidseplein to see if anything was open there, and lo and behold, I found Big Bananas Nightshop.

Now, BBN is kind of like a Manhattan bodega, but with a ritzy euro feel. And a huge security guard.

Some fool tried to shoplift some Amstel Lights and totally got roughed up. I mean, seriously roughed up. Like, grabbed by the neck, pulled backwards till he screamed and dragged out of the store by his ear. Then punched a couple of times. Made Stabler look like pattycake. There was a lot of yelling in Dutch from both sides. Then the cops rolled by to sort things out.

I mean, all of this over Amstel Light? It’s Amsterdam, buddy! You can get Amstel Light anywhere for a euro or two. It’s just not worth the risk.

Apparently Dutch jails (with the exceptions of the ones for asylum seekers) are very cushy. Maybe that’s why security guards go the extra mile with the beatings. It helps even things out.

*Unless you’re really into Law & Order: SVU or you are Martin, you can’t appreciate this sentence.

FINALLY


Dutch Word of the Day
pindakaas: peanut butter, but literally translated is “peanut cheese”. ew.
Het is pindakaas gelei tijd!!!
It’s peanut butter jelly time!!!

No, not really. But it was high time that I finally got the bike. So here’s the realization in three stages:

1. Nice weather: I mentioned going to the parks yesterday, but I didn’t mention that it took me forever and day to get there. In the time it takes me to walk up Prinsengracht, past Leidse and Museumpleins, then turn into Vondelpark, a bike would’ve gotten me there and back. Besides, there aren’t any ice storms to brave at the moment.

2. Little kids on bikes: They’re just appearing from out of nowhere. They’re usually accompanied by a vigiliant adult. It’s bad enough that the dogs know more Dutch that I do, but little kids having a more effective mode of transportation is more than I can bear.

3. Evil Dutch Professor: He’s not really evil, just kind of loveably snarky. So we’re having a guest speaker talking about city planning. He asks how many of us have bikes. Everyone but me raises their hands. Then he goes, “Well, who doesn’t have a bike? Anybody? Nobody’s without a bike?” Silence. Then Evil Dutch Professor goes, in a rather smug tone: “Lenore? Did you get a bike yet? Muahahaha.” You know it’s bad when real adults make fun of you. Gr.

Despite my horrible experience with the CIEE bike earlier and the fact that all the bikes are too long to fit my legs, I found a very nice one for a decent price (and size) at Waterlooplein. I can recognize it easily because it’s usually the shortest bike in the rack. And I’ve got three locks on it: the big chain on the front wheel and frame, the built-in back wheel lock, and an extra back wheel lock I attached just for kicks. My dorm has a bike shelter in the basement so the chances of it being swiped by junkies in the night is slim.

In a way, it’s better that I get in later on in the game. It takes about a month to learn to walk in Amsterdam, let alone ride a bike. This is going to be a lot of fun.

Saccahrine Amsterdam

Dutch Word of the Day
zuiker: sugar

Te veel zuiker is slecht voor je.
Too much sugar is bad for you.


But foreign candy’s so very good. And Holland has really, really good candy. I’m currently on the kinder bueno/ cracktella patch, but I still like a good Bounty bar now and then. It’s basically a Mounds bar called by a different name. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if it was the same company. Balisto’s really good and has some muesli in it, so you can
trick yourself into thinking it’s doing you some good.
The beverages here are a bit different as well. The Fanta’s amazing. It tastes like thick orange syrup at home, but here it’s yellow, thinner and just really good. The only sports drink I like at home is Propel water. Gatorade always tasted like plastic to me, so I guess I won’t be trying Aquarius anytime soon. I have no idea what Fernandes’ green punch and cherry bouquet are like, but I’ll get around to it.

The downer is that that most of the vending machines in the school buildings have converted to using Chipknip cards, which is this European Union credit card. You fill it up at ATMs with Euros, and use it everywhere. I think the only way you can get a real Chipknip card is if you have an EU bank account, which isn’t practical for me. I can get a prepaid one but it’s a pain to recharge. Why anyone would want to use a credit card to get a can of soda is beyond me, but that’s just the way it is around here. I can only print at one university building because all the other require this card. I wonder if they get a cut of the profits or something…


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