Typical Dutch dinner

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Many new international students say Dutch food is tasteless, cold, with super quick preparation time. Blogger Nadya Karimasari reminisces of her last Dutch dinner with her landlords, which confirmed that not all Dutch dishes are the same.

The Dutch might be good at cycling, but cooking is not their forte. Most of my international friends would confess that they are not a big fan of Dutch food. According to them, Dutch food is tasteless, cold, and prepared in short amounts of time. It was as if the Dutch eat without considering the need to entice their senses. Perhaps this is partly due to the Dutch philosophy of pragmatism, practicality, and frugality, in which the function of food is to fill their tummy and that’s about it. Forget about self-indulging nourishment, the Dutch are too busy and workaholic. Boiled eggs, hard sandwich, and cheese, consumed in a rush. That’s the typical Dutch lunch I observed in the university’s cafeteria. My Dutch friend was surprised that I ate warm food for lunch. ‘Is it normal for you to eat warm food for lunch?’ he asked. Well, what is so abnormal about it?

The day before I flew back to Indonesia for my long-term fieldwork, I had a Dutch dinner with my landlords. I must say it was a typical Dutch dinner, yet it was delicious at the same time. The fact that my landlords are farmers with their own sheep and chickens made their food very special, because the meat was very fresh and comes directly from their farm.

Without hesitation, I asked for seconds because, wow, what a sensational dinner.

We started at 17:00 in the living room, with a glass of iced Bacardi mixed with cola and a slice of lemon. This cocktail reminded them of the Caribbean where they were received with a glass of Cuba Libre. After drinking, we moved to the dining table with a typical Dutch dinner of roasted lamb with rhubarb compote, potatoes and salad. The lamb was only 6 months old, so the meat was very tender, fresh and juicy. Just a little bit of garlic and the perfect timing in the oven made this main course shine. Without hesitation, I asked for seconds because wow, what a sensational dinner.

We ended our dinner with another typical Dutch habit: cheese tasting. My landlords’ collection of cheese, especially old cheese, was put on a cracker, and we tasted each cheese one by one while exchanging funny and heart-warming stories. Every cheese was salty and full of flavour, and I went home with a happy heart and satisfied belly. It was a dinner to be remembered.

Now, whenever my international friends complain about tasteless Dutch food, I’ll silently put on my secretive smile and perhaps recommend they have dinner with my landlord to revise their stereotype.

As seen in Resource online

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Boekenmarkt

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During the Easter holiday, blogger Nadya Karimasari spent her day at the second-hand book bazaar in Wageningen Centrum.

Looking back, it seems weird that I’ve been anticipating the boekenmarkt since the very first time I had heard about it. What did I expect? I knew most books would be in Dutch, a language in which I have no vocabulary other than ‘ik begrijpt u niet’. I also knew that I wouldn’t be buying any, because the books would be most likely collectible antiques or English fiction paperback, which I would not read for the time being – I am staring at you, my beloved piles of research related books and articles.

It’s just the incomprehensible impulse to meet and be surrounded by books, no matter how foreign the written words are.

I marked the date on my calendar, set my alarm very early in the morning, quickly ate a bowl of blueberry yoghurt and granola – which I wouldn’t consider a proper breakfast on any normal occasion. I even skipped my regular ‘Skype Saturday’ morning with my husband in Indonesia so I wouldn’t miss this rare event in Wageningen. I usually have to travel to far-off Amsterdam just to find English second-hand books!

On that cloudy day, I felt a moment of bliss from looking at rows of second-hand book stalls. Where have they all been before? To my surprise, the first stall that I visited was remarkably suitable for my studies – and my wallet. It was a very small collection of an ecology student at Wageningen University, but it comprised the must-have anthropology textbooks. Every single book had to go through a long and thorough examination by me, as I had a difficult time to decide which one not to buy.

With such a high degree of book compatibility between me and the seller, I wondered for a split second what it would be like to see each other more often and having endless conversation about … books? Would it be like what people often said about the comfortable feeling of ‘meeting an old friend’ in a new person?

Like a snap, I was immediately brought back to reality by the sight of a beautiful sound story book that I eventually bought for my son.

more pics: here

Public Imagination

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Today is general election day in the Netherlands. Blogger Nadya Karimasari writes a commentary from her hometown in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

As a Dutch resident, I am more interested in the upcoming Dutch general election than the previous U.S. election, which ignited wide global attention. Both have quite an intense process leading up to the election, with figures such as Donald Trump and Geert Wilders occupying public discourse with controversial stances and questionable reasoning.

Today reminds me of how living in the Netherlands has taught me what ‘public’ means. Writing from my provincial hometown in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, with very limited manifestation of the ‘public’, I must say that the ‘public’ is not something to be taken for granted. Public parks, very safe public roads with bicycle lanes, public transport, public education for four-year-olds and above, public healthcare, and other public mechanisms are considered ’basics’ in the Netherlands. Hence, it is quite easy to forget that these are actually quite an awesome public achievement. Different individuals with public imagination have been demanding and working together to realise a better quality of life, not only for the benefit of each individual, but also for the greater good of the general public.

But what constitutes the ‘public’ in the dynamic situation of contemporary Dutch? This is where the matter gets a bit more complicated. The public system in the Netherlands taught me that no matter where I come from, no matter what my religion is, no matter how long I have been living in the Netherlands, as long as I pay taxes, I am part of the Dutch public. It is clear, sensible, and reasonable. But it implies that in order to pay taxes, one must have an income, a job. It means that better job provision for people in the working age should be the next agenda point of the public fight.

We will see whether the Dutch opt to have someone like me join and be part of that fight or not. Would they be strategic and adaptive, as the Dutch are famously known to be, will they embrace and take advantage of the current situation in which the Dutch public is becoming merrier, more diverse and colourful? Or will it be the opposite?

picture source: wikimedia