donderdag 25 december 2008


Been feeling unusually Christmas-y this year...maybe it's due to being outside America - in the States, you're bombarded with consumerism, and the newspapers and newscasts seem to think it's *important* to report how retailers are doing - as if Walmart's profit margin is the determining factor as to whether this is a good Christmas or not!! I watched Fox News last week and a "reporter" actually said something like "we'll know next week whether Walmart's Christmas wishes will come true or not" - it's Christmas wish of selling crap to people who are in a recession so it's top execs can take home billion dollar bonuses????? Anyhow, while there is of course consumerism in the Netherlands, it's much more mellow - and I've been surprised (and relieved) how unusually friendly and upbeat people in shops are. Someone actually said "Sorry!" when almost ramming their shopping cart into me at Albert Heijn - this is unheard of!!!! Normally when I've been in the US, I come back to NL after Christmas and am immediately disgusted by the rude and impolite behaviour of people, but it seems different this year - maybe the coming recession is in fact humbling people?? For the first time, we got a Christmas tree and decided to make a turkey! There's only 2 of us (plus the animals), so we didn't need a big one, but there was a misunderstanding at the butcher. They asked me if I wanted to 2.5-3 pound turkey.....they said "pound" so I assumed they had heard my American accent and were kindly converting from metric for me, even though in truth, I have lived here so long I have completely forgotten non-metric measurements and don't have a clue how warm or cold 70 degrees fahrenheit is anymore. Anyway, I show up at the butcher and the turkey was in fact 3 KILOS! A big bird!! This will be the first attempt at cooking a turkey, so it will indeed be interesting - hope it works out. I imagine there will be quite a few turkey sandwiches in our future (which will taste great on maisbrood!). On the downside, my Dad has been quite ill lately and I just discovered my cousin, who was strangely born the exact same day and year I was, has breast cancer - all the bad things in my family seem to happen around Christmas time (among other things, another cousin died two days before Christmas back in the 80s), so I do get a bit nervous this time of year. anyhow, happy holidays - whatever it is you celebrate, be it Hannukah, Kwanza, Christmas, or just enjoying a few days off :-)

dinsdag 23 december 2008

Burger Quest

I guess I fulfill one of the American stereotypes, but I do love a good burger. And those are not easy to come by on this side of the Atlantic, but one place that does them well is Boom Chicago. With plans to attend the Monday night Pub Quiz, I also planned on partaking on a burger, so I starved myself all day so I'd be nice and hungry! The tram was delayed and I got there slightly after 8pm, only to discover that the kitchen had closed 1 minute ago! This wasn't good, as not only was I starving, but I didn't want to drink the inevitable beers on an empty stomach. My group told me to run over to Burger King really quick (a French person suggesting BK - there's a first!), so, though it's not my favourite place, I ran over to BK, which is strategically located next door to a "coffeeshop", thus catering greatly to stoned people with the munchies. People don't form queues here in The Netherlands, it's more like a herd of elephants, and if you are polite like me, it can make getting served next to impossible. At one point, the guy called to me, but discovered there was someone before me, and retracted his offer. It was taking too long, so I left (as I often do in The Netherlands if it looks like I'll never get served) and discovered my only super-quick food option was oliebolen (oily balls, kind of like donuts). So I took two and headed back. One of my quiz group was so disgusted as the concept that I had to eat oliebolen for dinner that he kindly offered me some of his burger, which he had luckily ordered 1 minute before 8pm. Unfortunately, as he tore off my piece, I discovered a minute later that he had in fact missed the burger completely and torn off a bunch of the bun. Again, my polite nature made it impossible for me to point this out, so I enjoyed a nice tasty bun and some oily balls. Now that burgers were on the brain, I decided to head back to Burger King after the quiz - I'm much more patient with queues when I've had a few nice beers :-) I waited a few minutes and then - voila! I was being served. I ordered my burger and the slightly embarrassed cashier responded that they had run out of buns (!), so they couldn't make any more burgers. I realized that it was just not meant to be, this day. Maybe God was intervening to keep my heart healthier (sure, with oily balls and beer!). Well, living in Holland over the years has taught me to live with disappointment, so I made my merry way home. Next time, I'll get there before 8 and all shall be well.