Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Turn, turn, turn"


The seasons they are a-changing. I'm a bit late to this party, actually--autumn started back in August this year, but for me, fall really begins when my boyfriend makes stamppot.

Stamppot is a bit too gross to photograph, even with the prettifying effects of shooting through good glass and a sexy camera. It's a dish of potatoes with stuff mashed into it. And "stuff" is about as specific as it gets. Favorites of the Dutch include kale (boerenkool0; Romaine lettuce boiled to death, purgatory, hell, and back again(andiven); a mix of carrots and onions for hutspot; saurkraut (zuurkool) and bacon bits (spek). It is traditionally served alongside an enormous worst, with lots of gravy, mustard, and pickles and zilveruitjes (little pearl onions) in case that wasn't enough salt already. I like mine with mustard and pickles.

Some expats think stamppot is gross, tasteless, or both, but I like the stuff and until now I have not been able to articulate why: because when my boyfriend makes it, it's always when I'm home, and he always goes out of his way to get extra pickles and mustard and zilveruitjes and dumps in far more veggies than he would normally do. He always gives me a huge bowl of it (far too much) and we sit on the couch, under a blanket, and watch bad movies on RTL7 and point out everything the directors do wrong, while our cats vie for space on our laps. It's not fancy, and it's not especially good, but it's home.

Food isn't just about taste, but about the experiences surrounding it. I like to think of myself as being sophisticated enough to appreciate a dinner in that kind of place, and that my palate is sensitive enough to discern minute variations in chocolate, but in the end, when I miss home and the world is going to pieces and my boss is pissed off and my writer's block has morphed into the Berlin Wall, I want a bowl of stamppot.

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