Tuesday, February 20, 2018


The boss is heading to the Netherlands for a week. No, I have not advised him or his wife on what to do, eat, see, or experience. He already knows about Hajenius (the world's best cigar store), and I'm fairly certain that neither books at Atheneum nor coffee served by apathetic waitstaff at the Cafe Luxembourg are anywhere on his bucket list.

He'll probably go to a museum or two, and walk around Amsterdam enjoying the quaintness. And have a drink in a cafe of an evening.

I am curious what his impressions of a country where I spent sixteen years (age two till eighteen) will be.

The food may startle him.

Fried objects of uncertain provenance. Semi-raw fish, heavily smoked fish. Cheese. Fries with peanut sauce. Frikandel with the works (mayo, ketchup, sambal, onions). Pastries. Indonesian food.

Some of the Indonesian food is rather spicy (like 'rendang', for instance, if properly made), some of it is richly sauced (kalio and korma), and a lot of it combines a textural excitement with medium spiciness and an undertone of savoury-sour-sweet. It reflects three plus centuries of the Dutch colonial enterprise on Java, and barely a century in Bali, on the Borneo coast, and slaughtering friends and allies in Sumatra.
There are consequently more influences from places like Semarang and Surabaya than anywhere else. Palm sugar, peanuts, fish paste, and tamarind, plus a wealth of sambals, of all different kinds.
Filtered through Dutch sensitivities.

Nothing says "party!" like shrimp chips. Because it tells you that someone has a deep-fryer. Which, in the Netherlands, makes them almost a god.

Peanut sauce can be used on absolutely everything.

When in doubt, add sambal.

And wash everything down with coffee or gin.

It's probably a jolly good thing that I have not advised them. Better that they discover peculiarities and interesting things there on their own, rather than feeling like they had to do something, secondhandedly re-living my trips, and thinking that I must have been a blinkered weirdo as a youngster.

It's the vacation of a life time.

Have fun.

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rbp said...

Oh, tell him to bring 1kg or so of GLP Westminster for me! We needn't meet, I can set up a shady drop point - the full Amsterdam experience ;)

The back of the hill said...

It would be hard to convince him to do that, and there is not enough Westminster available locally even if he were to do it.

I know of only one store that carries GLPease products, and they're sold out of Westminster.

Besides, after last year's puritanical tax increase on tobacco, California prices are outrageous.

I'm very sorry.

rbp said...

Ouch, really? Than I am sorry as well :(

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