I had good intentions for my holiday in the Netherlands – many good intentions: to finish my book review, to read through the documents I’ve collected, to email my advisor with a pithy report of my research thus far (both being pithy and working up the courage to email my advisor take me a great deal of time) and to catch up on blog posts.
Those things didn’t happen. Not a single one. Instead, I spent the holidays eating. Which is perfect because this blog is about food and living abroad! And in the Netherlands, I was completely, continuously food-drunk.
Please observe that in the picture above, I have my hand stuck in a bag of ‘oil-balls’ (really, donuts, but I appreciate the Dutch commitment to accurate naming). Cheese! Milk! Crusty bread! Lunch meat! Lettuce! Sausages! Oh my! So much to eat, so little time. I was even more preoccupied than usual with when I would have my next meal and what it would contain. Did I mention that there are cafes in the Netherlands? And they serve coffee?
Just look at the picture above. I’ve never enjoyed a latte (and wrist-warmers) so much! Was my pleasure increased by the fact that I cannot get most of this food in Nigeria? Definitely. Since returning from Ghana, I’d forgotten how much I’d miss something like lettuce. Weird. But I also felt guilty about fleeing Nigeria for the holidays and for the relief I felt at not having to eat amala for a couple of weeks.
More than anything else – more than the heat or the lack of electricity or the monitor lizard who lives in my yard – the food in Nigeria reminds me of the vast distance between my home-for-now and home. Some of the things I love most about Nigeria have to do with eating: shopping in the markets, the hospitality of sharing food, eating with your hand (no forks! awesome!). But in Nigeria, I’m always an outsider – the funny oyinbo [foreigner] who gets waaay too excited about eating iyan [pounded yam]. So when Diana cooked up some butternut squash on the night I arrived, and we sat in her cozy apartment eating dinner with Niek and Ashlyn (my sister), I felt at home again. (And also, less guilty about my break from eating amala.)
And any plans to accomplish work during the break? Completely ruined. My husband James and brother Chad arrived in Amsterdam on Christmas Day and it was -- Time to eat! (More on that soon. And on our drinking. There was some of that as well.)