By Mark van Engeland

 
FEED ME FESTIVELY!

Good God, Easter's on the way already!
Eggs are in the shops; churches are advertising their services; and bunnies have turned furry and emerged from the Playboy clubs.
When I was a young, sparkling, happy kid, it seemed to take forever for the next holiday to come around.  Now that I'm a miserable old bugger, I hardly have time to blink before the next wave of silly spending smacks me in the sensitive leather appendage.

Christmas was fun, though.  All countries (those with a significant Christian population, at any rate) wheel out their best food at Christmas.
I was really looking forward to getting the very best, most succulent cuts of meat, served with the tastiest, most perfectly prepared potatoes.
Hey, did you know I get hate-mail from Dutch vegetarians?

<Attack of the Dutch Killer Veggies mode on>

    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  STOP SAYING WE ONLY EAT MEAT AND POTATOES!
    van Engeland :  Hunh?
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  I SAID, STOP SAYING WE ONLY EAT MEAT AND POTATOES!
    van Engeland :  Oh.  I see.  You don't like the 'meat & potatoes' thing.  You want me to lie?
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  NO!  I WANT YOU TO TELL THE TRUTH!
    van Engeland :  Ok.  {faces readers}  Hello, everybody. {waves}  I'm a hunk.  You may remember me from such...
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  YOU'RE NOT A HUNK BY NEDERLAND STANDARDS BECAUSE YOU'RE LESS THAN TWO METRES TALL, BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEAN!
    van Engeland :  Oh.  You want me to discuss other foodstuffs.  Ok.  I'll put in a bit more about cakes.
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEAN, EITHER!
    van Engeland :  Stroopwafels?
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  NO!  JUST TELL THE TRUTH!
    van Engeland :  The truth?
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  YES, THE TRUTH!
    van Engeland :  Look, this 'truth' you're screaming about seems to be a 'point of view' thing; and, from my...
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  SHUT UP!  YOU CAN'T BAFFLE ME WITH SCIENCE!  I'VE STUDIED SCIENCE!  I KNOW ALL ABOUT UFOS!
    van Engeland :  Hunh?
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  AND THE CONSPIRACY TO KEEP IT ALL QUIET!  YOU'RE IN ON IT, I KNOW YOU ARE!  YOU'RE TRYING TO DESTABILISE US, SO THEY CAN CARRY ON WITH THE ABDUCTIONS!
    van Engeland :  Ah, this must be a case of van Engeland's Third Law.  How's it go, again?  "The dumber the idea, the smarter the subscribers to it think they are"?
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  I'M NOT STUPID!  I JUST WANT YOU TO TELL THE TRUTH!  NOT ALL NEDERLANDERS EAT ONLY MEAT AND POTATOES!
    van Engeland :  Ok, fine; but give me details, rather than just scream sweet nothings in my ear-hole.  What do you eat, for example?
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  WELL, I DON'T EAT MEAT, THAT'S FOR SURE!
    van Engeland :  Ok.  Thanks.  I'll be sure to put that information to best use.
    Rabid Dutch Veggie :  DON'T MENTION IT!
    van Engeland :  What are you doing in my bathroom, by the way?

<Attack of the Dutch Killer Veggies mode off>

So there you have it.  The Dutch don't all eat only meat and potatoes, because some of them don't eat meat.

van Engeland : 1 | Rabid Dutch Veggies : 0.

Actually, when you come down to it, what else is there to eat, but meat and veg?  Nederland is the same as the rest of the world, in that respect.  It's all in the preparation and presentation.
I suppose I should be a little more diplomatic, though, given that I have at least one Dutch reader (see footnote 1).
I suppose pigs might one day fly, too.

So.  Back to the subject of Easter:
What culinary delights did I sample over Christmas?

Fun with (non-)Fondue
Right.  You take a fondue set, see, and fill it with cooking oil and switch it on.  Then you get lots of different types of meat and sausage, all chopped up into ¾" (call it 2cm) cubes, but left raw; and you get lots of rough-hewn bread.  Oh, and you make sure you've got plenty of fondue forks, and lots of sauces and dips to dunk into.
What do you do with all this?
Well, you have a great time, that's what!
Just leave your best tablecloth in the cupboard, and don't wear your 'Sunday, going to church' suit.
I suppose I ought to add that this might not be the absolute, very best thing to serve at vegetarian get-togethers, but who knows?  It would at least give them something to complain about.

Don't Tell 'em You Can Cook!
Boxing Day (26th December) was fun.
{editor's note: "Boxing day was fun" sounds a bit lame, Mark.  Can't you spice it up a little?}
Ok.
Boxing Day was fun for everyone who wasn't chained to an oven!
I believe I've already mentioned that I was stupid enough to let on that I know my way around a kitchen.  Everyone here was thrilled with the idea of sampling a 'Traditional English Christmas Dinner'.
Except me, of course.  I've had them before (more than once, believe it or not).

<Christmas Dinner Menu mode on>

Antipasto
To hell with a starter; I've got enough to do!

Main Course
Turkey & stuffing, roast potatoes, roast parsnip, 3 veg, RGB (Rich Gravy, Brown).

Dessert
Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter.

Cheese board & coffee.

<Christmas Dinner Menu mode off>

Of course, making a 'Traditional English Christmas Dinner' means that one has to first obtain the raw materials with which to make it.

Um, Double-0 PS?  I don't think we're in England, any more...

<Double-0 PS mode on>

    Having foiled the devilishly cunning Dutch plot to make me waste money on hard cheese by buying Swedish cheese, which is correctly sealed I took the risk of contacting base, to see if there had been any changes made to the mission.

    Q informed me that he was in the process of constructing a 'TECD', but was short of several vital components which he needed to complete it.
    It was my job, for the sake of world peace and security, to see that he got those components.

    The first item on the list was a turkey.  I knew, from a previous briefing, that turkey was a traditional USese dish, served during their 'Thanksgiving' period; but had been adopted by we British for Christmas because it is easier to cook, and a lot cheaper to rear.
    I had no trouble locating one, at the meat counter.  It was a bit on the small side, but it was the only one available, so I started counting out the seventy guilders the vendor had  ...  SEVENTY GUILDERS!?

    A bird twice that size would cost half as much, back in England but I had no choice.  The safety of civilisation, as we know it, was at stake.  I was tempted to simply shoot the fiendish master criminal and take the bird; but attracting the attention of the guards would have jeopardised the remainder of the mission.

    Parsnip.
    Using the satellite link in the heel of my left shoe, I contacted the orbiting translation module to find the Dutch for 'parsnip'.  It told me: 'witte peen'.
    I swiftly located the 'witte peen' in the greengrocery section; but it looked nothing like parsnip, and I was not wearing the shirt with the hidden chemical and spectro-analysis tools.
    I took a chance, and bought it, anyway.

    Stuffing.
    Where was the 'Paxo'?
    I searched the entire complex; top to bottom, North to South.
    I searched it East to West, bottom to top.
    In case I had missed something obvious, I tried one more time: top to North, West to bottom.
    I then had to pause in my mission for a few minutes, until the dizziness passed.
    There was no sign of any packets of stuffing.
    I asked one of the assistants for its location, but he directed me to a rack of bird seed.
    I knew that Q would never be able to complete the 'TECD' without stuffing, so I took a chance that he could make it from raw materials, and obtained bacon breadcrumbs walnuts sage onions black peppercorns white peppercorns chicken livers eggs sausages parsley butter and nutmeg.
    I knew it would be straining his resources, preparing the stuffing from such crude materials; but the end result would be worth it.

    Christmas Pudding.
    There were none.
    The simple, civilised option of tossing a pre-made Christmas Pudding into the microwave was out of the question.
    Raw materials, again.
    Sultanas currents raisins brazil nuts pinoli apples lemons almonds ginger flour brown sugar candied peel more breadcrumbs mixed spices more eggs orange juice brandy milk and a bottle of Guinness.
    There was no suet.
    I hoped a combination of margarine and lard would do the job.

    Saying a prayer that Q would be able to complete the TECD on time, I passed the materials on to a dispatcher, who was waiting outside.

<Double-0 PS mode off>

I made the stuffing by hand.  It was perfect.  Considering it was the first time in many years I had made stuffing by hand, it was miraculously perfect.  Considering also the fur and feathers flying around the kitchen, in the carnage that preparing a simple meal had become, it was a major miracle!

The Christmas pudding was a masterpiece.  This is something I had never made before.  I excelled myself.  The only trouble was that I completely forgot to make the brandy butter, which can't be done well in five minutes; so I served it with custard, which can.

The stuffing was obviously not to Dutch tastes.
Only one person liked it.
The bodies of the others can be found under my back yard.

—oOo—

 

FOOTNOTES:
1:
EEEEK!  (Hi, Rob!)

 

If you came here from an external link, the Dutch & Such index page is Here

You have just been subjected to a page of
http://mwallace.nl/