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2005-08-12 14:29

Wat heb ik afgelopen zomer gedaan?

I ate stamppot Thursday, but I'm mostly better now
I ate stamppot Thursday, but I'm mostly better now
They warned me off of stamppot,
But I ate it anyhow.

"Stamppot Blues", Blind Spacefish Slim

Oh dear. Stamppot has left us, Varied Reader, a broken ruin of an Emperor. It is a dish that you would perhaps fancy if you had waded across an icy marsh carrying a couple of sheeps. Especially (by which we mostly mean only) if there wasn't anything else.

It isn't bad, exactly, but it is mashed vegetable and potato with jus in a hollow in the middle, and it is mostly served with yummy pig.

The main problem is the extent of it, which is more than somewhat extensive. We may never walk normally again. The Dutch have the word uitbuiken. It means the feeling that you wish to unzip your bursting stomach and let the intestines out to breathe, sort of. It is their word, and they're welcome to it, and stamppot is just the sort of thing that provokes it, and they're welcome to that too.

If, however, we had a choice between eating stamppot for breakfast, lunch and dinner or another samwidge with hagelslag, we would very likely go with the stamppot. Hagelslag are little chocolate (or otherwise, but mostly chocolate) somethings that you can sprinkle on buttered bread for samwidge purposes. Our advice, and it is more than somewhat heartfelt, is that you do under no circumstances any such thing. We lack, at the best of times, a sweet tooth, and there are few times less best, in our considered opinion, than hagelslag samwidges for breakfast.

Even if breakfasting, as we did today, at lunchtime; bars in Groningen open until they shut, and we have no idea when that is, and we're not sure they do either. We like Groningen. We haven't been up any towers, to speak of, but we have toured a canal or several with (take note, Umsterdum!) bier on the boat, and we have snooted more than somewhat haughtily at the random artfashion in the attractively buildinged Groningen museum.

But Groningen has a university and a bunch of Old Stuff and a nice caf culture and some wimmins who are still, we assure you, not as tall as they are widely claimed to be. We did chat about the cricket with an expat yesterday, but it was after all not in an Irish pub, so that's still (just about) acceptable. The weather is still rubbish, so we we've cancelled a trip to Schiermonnikoog to ride bicycles in the company of dour value-for-money-getting Germans, in favour of recovering (hopefully) from the stampot et al.

We still plan to be back at work on Monday, unless we can persuade KLM's caterers to join BA's in their no doubt righteous struggle for whatever it is they're (righteously) struggling for. We could easily spend an extra couple of years here, before our boss makes us take a ferry to Harwich (in which the Dutch insist on pronouncing the "w"; c.f., "iron" and "often". We haven't yet been reduced to showing random Dutchpersons in bars our Gloucestershire countycricketclub wallet and asking them to pronounce it, but we might yet. We have less shame than you might imagine, for sure.).

2005-08-10 20:49

It is a means of getting pelf for the provincial coterie

We suffer, Varied Reader - Oh how we suffer! - and not especially for our art.

We have eaten gehaktbalen; we have eaten Surinamese roti; we have pondered at length samwidges with slices of broot aligned with neither each other nor their contents, fastened with cocktail sticks; we have savoured the yumminess of raw haring; we have failed miserably to ponounce "Scheveningen" ("Schevenings") correctly; we have gereisd from 's Gravenhaag to Groningen on a collection of trains with not one biershop between them.

We have had, however, an excellent time in several respects: we have learned more than half of the Nederlands langwidge, especially the bits about bier - we prefer to insist on "vaasjes" down south, although we expect to switch to "Amsterdams" now that we are, as we are, Oop Noorth.

We like, in fact, the Netherlands a good deal, and we have restored it to its rightful place near the top of our list of places we would seek exile from Mr Blair's Blighty, even if we still have some work to do on our way with their many wimmins. (Which is after all not the first time": it is just as well we have our many battlefieldconquests with which to instead console ourself.)

We have also, since you ask or enquire, taken more than somewhat of a shine to the nice beachfront at Scheveningen, and we also rather prefer the Hague to the endless dirty smelly touristhippies of Umsterdum. (Scheveningen's hotels are exclusively used, so far as we can tell, by Germans, and the coffee served at breakfast certainly reflects the esteem in which they are famously held by their lowlandly-living neighboers. Apart, obviously, from that.) We have never seen the dirty grey seas and stroppy seagulls and intermittent seaside drizzle of home while actually abroad, and in our considered opinion it improves more than somewhat when contemplated from the shelter of a beachside bar's overdekterras (which is still technically outside, we'll have you know).

We have not, meanwhile, especially been in a position to blog, but you may already have noticed that. We may have more opportunities, and we may additionally feel inclined to take them, or it may be that it is otherwise; in any case Monday is a workday and we will be back in our office then at least.

Tot ziens!

2005-08-08 10:29

On Reize

We are on holiday in a land with no hills which is known, not unreasonably, as the Land of Lowness.

We wish it to be known that the Dutchpersons of our encounterage are not in fact so tall as it is rumoured, and that they English you in bars somewhat less than Swedishes when engaged in innocent requests for bier, and that the Dutch food fully deserves its international reputation.

Krockets (Sp?) are a Local Delicacy, related (at least etymologically)to "croquettes" which are tubes of stiff and dry, and especially dry, breadcrumbs wrapped around unidentifiable and gooey, and especially gooey, meat sludge. This are served, with Calvinistic austerity, with chips ("fries") and mayonnaise and a sort of enhanced coleslaw.

But while the bier is hardly Belgian, it is also far from Swedish, and it is not outrageously expensive. And there is much art, with a (this time welcome) Calvinistic lack of emphasis on Madonnas col Bambini, and there are also many canals. Tomorrow we will be moving on to Schevingen, which we can't pronounce properly, for the purpose of making raids on the Hague's art and possibly being rained on on the beach for a change. (The rain would not be the bit that was the change, of course.)

They have, and other countries will wish to take note, Engleesh bladets on the day of issue, here, and the Dutch (trash)bladet De Telegraaaaaf itself reported Eng-ger-lnd's stunning Ashes triumph. (The Dutch are, however, conspicuously less thrilled than we at this most exciting turn of events.)

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