Thursday, September 29, 2011

Suriname in Amsterdam

This is the very last thing I ate before I went into labor and had a baby:

I'm afraid the picture does not do this meal justice.  In fact, the picture makes it seem a little unappetizing.  Believe me, however, when I say that this is probably one of the most delicious take-away dishes I've ever had in my life.  It's called Roti Kip, and it's a Surinamese specialty.  "What the hell is Surinamese food?" you might be asking yourself.  To be honest, that's what I wondered the first time a friend of mine served up a delicious helping of chicken, potatoes, green beans, and warm potato pancakes.  I wish I could answer in detail what Surinamese cuisine is like, but my knowledge is mostly limited to what you see in the picture above.  However, I always appreciate seeing some good flavors of the Caribbean foisted onto the traditionally bland food of the Low Countries.

I love Roti Kip, and during the latter part of my pregnancy we ate it fairly often.  That's saying a lot for people who never go out to eat.  There's just something so amazingly comforting and filling about this dish--probably the breaded and deep fried goodness of the food.  My concept of modern Dutch cuisine has changed so much in the last three years.  Mostly I see, at least in the urban centers, that there are vibrant infusions of flavors from other parts of the world.  It actually took me quite a while to notice that there is a market for all those different flavors, even in "mainstream" Dutch food.  That is something to be celebrated in a way, although it's accompanied for me with a wave of guilt about European colonialism, which is strange because I'm not even Dutch.  Why should I feel guilty about Dutch colonialism?  Maybe it's because I don't think the Dutch public feels very guilty about it, so I feel like I should apologize on behalf of others.  It reminds me of the time I took a post-colonial historiography class, and I was the only Europeanist in the room.  When I walked into that seminar every week, I felt like I should profusely apologize for even wanting to study European history.  Obviously, I shouldn't have to apologize for studying Europe, but there's only so much talk about "the other" and dominance a girl can take before she wears down a bit.  Regardless, I can come to terms with it enough to enjoy ordering a serving of chicken for dinner.  And why should I not?  It's absolutely delicious.

When I return to a less zombie-like state--someone please tell me that will happen sooner or later--I will actually start to cook again for pleasure instead of purely for survival.  I may even try to make my own Roti Kip.  I just stumbled on a recipe for it on this blog.  Her photography is so beautiful.  I feel like I could make anything if the step-by-step instructions were always that gorgeous. 

And, obviously, I will leave you with a pic of an adorable baby.  She's so cute!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Biscuits with Little Mice

One of my followers sent me an e-mail yesterday to ask where I've been (Hi, Steve!).  I've been meaning to put up a post for the last two weeks, ever since we got back from our vacation in California.  Two Friday nights ago in the throes of some horrible jet lag, I even made a list of posts I was going to write for the rest of September.  I felt great (despite my sleep-deprived state) and couldn't wait to get started during the weekend.  Everything was coming together: we'd just had a wonderful vacation, Niek's family was coming over the next day to help us move furniture and get the baby room together, I was almost done with a good draft of a chapter for my advisor...and then this happened...

Our daughter, Johanna, decided to make her appearance four weeks early and only two days after coming back from our vacation, I might add.  She didn't come when we expected, and almost nothing about her birth or the subsequent days thereafter has gone according to our "plan," but we are truly over the moon about our little girl.

We ended up in the hospital for the birth instead of home like we had planned, but the hospital staff made sure that we had the obligatory post-birth food: beschuit met muisjes (translated as rusk with little mice).  Rusk is a type of rebaked bread and the muisjes are anise seeds dipped in a candy shell.  The muisjes are held on the bread with a bit of butter.  They're served because, apparently, anise is good for milk production.  I did point out that beer was also traditionally believed to be good for breastmilk, and my midwife responded by saying that I could have one if I wanted.  I passed for the time being.
So now we're home and adjusting to life as a family of three (plus the dog, don't forget the dog).  We have beschuit met muisjes on hand for all of our visitors.  Time to get some of those other blog posts up, although they might have to wait a little longer.  Apparently having a newborn baby is kind of exhausting.