Before we moved to live in the Netherlands, people warned us that as vegetarians, we wouldn’t have much luck with (or get much joy out of) Dutch food. Whilst it is certainly no vegetarian paradise, we didn’t find it all that bad. Certainly, there were even some Dutch foods (mainly of the sweet variety, such as appeltaart and stroopwafels) of which we became huge fans during our time living in Holland.
Moving to the Netherlands equipped with only limited Dutch language skills meant our trips to the supermarket in the first few months were quite challenging and made for some interesting exchanges as we navigated the payment system at the checkout, as well as navigating the aisles (such as when I eagerly utilised my fledgling Dutch language skills and asked a supermarket staff member “How are the eggs?” rather than “Where are the eggs?”). Being foreign in a country suddenly adds a level of challenge to daily tasks and interactions such as going to the supermarket which you’d otherwise take the ease of doing for granted. As a tourist, it can be fun, but when you are trying to integrate into a different society for an extended period of time, it can be tiring and frustrating. Read more
The nice thing about being back home is having our own kitchen around us, with a good amount of space (the kitchens in the Netherlands leave a little to be desired, in many cases!). And the great thing about the timing of our return is that asparagus season is in full swing. To celebrate, I cooked an old favourite. I prepared this amazing asparagus to have on the side.
Ever tried the dish called raclette? I hadn’t, before our recent trip to Zurich, but when I heard the following about it, I was excited to get into it:
1. It’s cheesy; 2. It’s potato-y; 3. It’s Swiss. By virtue of this point no.3, I knew the aforementioned ingredient at no. 1 would be super, super delicious (Swiss cheese really is amazing).
From the above, you’re probably thinking, “wow, she must really like cheese and potatoes!”, and you’d be right. Two of my favourite food groups right there, so I felt we couldn’t go wrong with raclette. Even better, we were lucky enough to be shown the authentic way on this most typical of Swiss dishes (after fondue, I guess), by our Swiss friends in their home.
Above you can see the spread of various ingredients prior to cooking (plus delicious side salad and unusual – to us anyway – accompaniments, such as preserved fruits and pickles). Read more
Recently I was reading an article about the bogus quest for authentic food. This really struck a chord with me, because food changes all the time. New ingredients become available, new flavour combinations become possible. Globalisation has meant that, now, perhaps more than ever, ingredients, ideas and exposure to new food occurs very quickly. This is not exactly a new thing, try to imagine Polish or Irish cuisine without the potato; Italian food without tomatoes; Indian food without chillies. Authenticity is always debatable anyway – Australians can even make the best south German style beer…
Still, one thing that CIA and I both absolutely love is burritos. It’s probably something to do with food you can pick up and eat (no cutlery to wash!). This is more true than ever as we are without a dishwasher (or a child, who can be made to wash dishes*). So anyway, delicious, vegetarian burritos that will always hit the spot can be found right here. They may not really be authentic (but then again, maybe they are? who adjudicates this sort of thing anyway?).
What you need…
An onion; some garlic; 1 tsp dried chilli; 1 tsp dried paprika; 2 tsp ground cumin; olive oil; 400g tin tomato puree; 400g tin chickpeas; 400g tin corn; fresh coriander; tortillas; lettuce; cheese; fresh tomatoes
Sometimes you go to the cupboard and look to make something, and you’re left with an assortment of vegetables and dry food, and no idea what to make. This happens to us every now and again for one reason or another (maybe we went shopping all day, maybe we got caught up watching our latest television infatuation). Whatever the reason, when you’re left with some somewhat random, if delicious, vegetables, and have some couscous and condiments handy, you can still throw together something reasonably healthy and very tasty.
I give you, Couscous with Balsamic Vegetables.
Couscous; a zucchini; a capsicum; spring onions; an onion; some garlic; vegetable stock; balsamic vinegar; oregano; basil.
Then, you do this:
Although we’ve posted only pasta so far, we really do like to draw on cuisine from all over the world. Hopefully you will start to see that over time. So, the weather has been really warm here – 29 celcius in Leiden today – and so a dinner that is fast, light, and not too hot was necessary. The Indonesian meal Gado Gado totally hits the spot on a day like today (better still eaten in our magnificent garden). CIA’s Mum made this for us about a year ago and we’ve tried to meet her excellent standard.
What you will need:
Mung beans; cabbage; potatoes; eggs (hardboiled); tofu; green beans; satay sauce; kroepoek (or casava chips); rice
And here’s how to construct it: