Saturday, May 19, 2012

Al dagen bezig met één scène

Al dagen bezig met één scène.
Telkens verder eraan schaven.
Lopen in het bos met de hond,
en dan denken: o ja, ze heeft rode konen, zoals die vrouw daar met haar Labrador.
En de man heeft krullen, net als R.
Hoe het licht in de kamer valt en de gordijnen opbollen in de wind.
Hoe het ruikt naar oud hout.
Een merel die zingt in de avond.
Zo moet het dan langzaam ontstaan.
Stapje voor stapje.
Tot het genoeg is.
Nou ja, genoeg . . . .

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mung Bean Salad

I had become listless and felt I had lost the inspiration for producing a meal that was not a run of the mill favourite. Not pasta with a vegetable tomato sauce again, nor an Oriental stir-fry, nor oven-roasted potatoes and cauliflower. I wanted something new, but where to find it?
And then I saw the mung beans that I had bought some time ago for just this type of mood, glimmering at me from the jar I had put them in. So here they come: mung beans in a salad!

Boil the mung beans. No need to soak them for an hour in advance; I did not see a difference. They take about 30 minutes to get done. Of course I allowed them to soften some more by steaming them a little longer in the hay box.
Meanwhile prepare a generous vinaigrette with olive oil, cider vinager, coarse grain mustard, and honey. Stir in the drained beans. Add thinly sliced red onion, ditto yellow pepper, thinly sliced or diced tomato, generous handfuls of chopped parsley, and some pitted black olives.
Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Allow the flavours to marry for a while and serve.
Simply delicious.

Of course this can be made with lentils or other delicate beans, and any variety of raw vegetables.
Sky 's the limit!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

In Praise of Asparagus

White Asparagus is deemed so delicate that it is called Edible Ivory or White Gold. It was already eaten in Aswan, Egypt 20,000 years ago. It is hard to imagine that vegetables, which we still eat today, were already grown in prehistory. For some reason I find that comforting. Not everything changes. Some things continue as they have been for times immemorial.

I grew up with the magic of the white asparagus season. The first time when you see them in the shop they are still wildly expensive. Then they become more abundant and more affordable. Harvested from the second Thursday in April until St. John (24th of June), as they still are, they are seasonal. I like the fact that they are not available all year round. It makes them a delicacy, something to look forward to, to discuss. During that time they are offered on the menu of every respectable restaurant in the whole of Western Europe. I don’t know why they never crossed the North Sea, let alone the Atlantic. This is really strange, as they are so celebrated in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Spain.

Cooking White Asparagus

Before preparing white asparagus soak them in a generous amount of water for half an hour or more. Then first break off the wooden ends by snapping the stems. There is a sort of natural cracking point. You can use these ends for soup. Or snap off the ends before soaking. That makes more sense. Carefully peel the stalks with a potato or asparagus peeler from the tip down, making sure that all the bark-like skin is removed. Plunge the shoots in ample cold water, enough to keep them submerged. Add a little salt and slowly bring to the boil. Some cooks will turn off the heat as soon as they are boiling. Others will leave them simmering ever so gently for 4 to 8 minutes. Then they too will turn off the heat and leave the asparagus to continue to cook in their water. Check whether they are done by pricking the end with a fork. When you feel no resistance they are.

Lift them carefully out of the water with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on a tea towel.

Traditionally, white asparagus is served with thinly sliced bone ham, mashed boiled eggs speckled with generous amounts of chopped parsley, melted butter and new potatoes, boiled in the skin. Some gastronomes will serve them with Hollandaise sauce. I never do, lazy bum that I am: too complicated!

Now for eating them. There are two ways:

1. Pick them up with your fingers by the end and eat them like that, lifting them to your mouth like a raw herring. Be ready to have the juice dripping down your sleeves up your arm, but this is one of the very few foods that etiquette will allow you to eat with your hands (globe artichokes being another), so don’t complain and make the most of it!

2. Pick up the end of the stalk with your fingers of one hand (again!), and scrape down with your fork towards the tip. Slush will come out, which you can then mix with the egg and potato that you have also mashed with your fork.

Both manners of consumption are messy, but hey, this is a delicacy! It makes you eat more slowly and savour the flavours more carefully.

For dessert there is really only one option: strawberries. Of course you can serve them with castor sugar or whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. But I wouldn’t. Because it would spoil their natural sweetness, their succulent fragrance. Of course I am not talking about the supermarket variety. You may do with them whatever you like, it will improve them. I am talking about the rose-red, warm, luscious berries that make your mouth water.

So: enjoy this summery feast!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Wij Hebben Niks Gedaan

hebben niks gedaan.
het zijn zij,
de dwazen, de kwaden.
herdenken in mei,
hun daden 
en onze eigen

om nooit te vergeten
hoe het was
staan wij stil
op de dam
terwijl de wereld
hongert en raast.

wij staan stil
want het zijn zij,
de dwazen, de kwaden,
die het hebben gedaan. 

herdenken in mei
onze onschuld.


Op de hoek van het kruispunt staat een man de verkeersstromen waar te nemen. Hij leunt met zijn rug tegen het laatste huis, één voet rustend op het frame van zijn fiets, hand losjes op het zadel. Hij beweegt niet. Alleen zijn ogen trekken lijnen: auto’s van links slaan af; fietsers naar de overkant; bus zwenkt de bocht om; voetgangerslicht tikt voor blinde met hond, rechtuit.

Hij denkt niet, deze man. Hij kijkt. De lichten: rood—oranje—groen; rood—oranje—groen, brommers, vrachtwagens, schoolkinderen op de fiets. Het zijn bewegingen, linksom, rechtsom, pirouette.

Na een tijdje is hij weg. Dan is het genoeg.

Dan staan er weer curven aan de binnenkant van zijn hersenpan.