Three Swiss rolls, I threw one. The very fluffy cake resembling angel cake was too fragile for the nutella I used as a filling. The vanilla cake filled with orange marmelade and the slighty more sturdy cacao cake surviving the nutella filling, both made it. After seven years of trinity, 2019 will be the year of duality. I associate it with my two daughters of whom one has now left the nest. The dark cacao and cream white vanilla are like yin and yang. The filling representing the opposing dots. Glad I fucked that up. I hear my American hero speak when I say this to myself. White whipped cream looks better in the cacao cake. And a dark colored jam is better in the vanilla cake. However now a fine dusting of soft icing sugar delivers a nice contrast. During the process a Swiss client arrives at the B&B. I tell him about the Swiss rolls. He smiles. This is before we find out that the B&B is overbooked. The plentiness of the last day of the year versus he and his wife being relocated. They take it very calm. Although he made this NYE booking already in April. I feel bad for them. One Swiss roll down.
Why does the Christian church and in particular one located in a quaint Mediterranean town showcases so much gold, glitter and shine? I don’t get it. My refuge in Northern European Amsterdam was the warm but austere yoga studio of a very special Indian guru. His name signifies ‘nothing’. I remember him being angry with the world around him as he actively takes a stand for modesty, sincerity and self empowerment. If there’s one soul in the world as it is known to me, who taught me stuff, it’s him. Not because he is perfect. Quite the opposite, his flaws showed me more then his achievements. He cursed. He disclosed of not being intimate with his dear partner. He once fasted so exaggeratedly for many months in a row that he fell sick and ‘left’ us, his groupies, hanging. But he allowed me to cry. He allowed me in the shadows of his cellar, to assert myself again. Dedication grew slowly. Tears washing away emotions, creating space. Space for love, space for loving myself.
Meeting the love of my life is a direct consequence of those five years culminating in yoga every f#*ing day. Yoga to cope with daily life. Yoga to open up. Yoga to surrender. Yoga to regain completely forgotten strength. I owe it to this special Indian man who grew up in Kenia, lived in London and who played cricket professionally the better part of his life, that I crossed the globe to stand next to a man. Feeling strong and right and up to supporting this man in the things he needed. The mission was the biggest challenge I’d ever undertake. Yet it felt as the most natural thing I ever did, do and will ever do. Thank you Anil. For getting me to that point. What happened after is my responsability. I think there couldn’t have been more that I did wrong then everything I did for this man. My American hero in no time was to be the one saving me, instead of the other way around. And I even imagined that it was saving me what he needed, to gain the confidence to strive and perpetuate for his own sake. What a mess. And how grateful I am to have had the chance to experience all of it. It has embedded me In Love.
I’ve learned three things.
1. Happiness doesn’t come with struggle
2. Happiness is right in front of me
3. To be loved
Unlike the Swiss rolls at this last day of the year, I won’t discart any of the three lessons. Holy trinity or Taoist dualism? Leaves me to break my mind over all that gold, those glitters, the brilliant shine, a church, a place of worship and dedication…
I told my mum, because she’s the one who gets me to churches. It’s her houses. I talk to her in a church, silently, without words. Often it smells nice, I can kneel for her and close my eyes. Tonight the last night of the year I told her: ‘You see mum, I can’t do it without you’. I have to fail. To show you that I love you and miss you’. I was struck by the thought. And then I lingered a long while over her painful thoughts I assume she’s had. Her sense of failure. Her disconnection. Her blacker then black. The well known black holes in our personal universes, vacuums, out there to draw us in. To make us dissapear in realms the scientists can’t explain. I asked myself if for her and my soul it does really make a difference that she’s dead and I am alive. I thought not. Which means maybe that I identify with her. I want to join her in her suffering, to alleviate it. To feel the connection with her. Please explain to me the gold, the glitter and the shine.
Something that doesn’t sound sexy at all. Not so much the word itself. Rather it’s association with a certain timeless salty sour, slightly bitter and harsh flavor. It’s consistency equals this sensation. Which is quite the opposite of smooth, pleasant in the mouth or softly touching my lips. It’s Jurassic like crocodiles, perky like cactusses and often cold, damp cold. Are we talking about food? Yes! And about everything it beholds: nutrition, pleasure, connection, warmth, taking care, paying attention, surprise and a whole lot of dedication. All at the same time, preferably.
In no two different culinary traditions it’s done the same way. But I dare say that each and every culinary tradition does know it’s own variation of the art of pickling. Maybe eskimo’s and Tibetans have been able to stay away from it, thanks to their fridge-worthy surroundings. The rest of the world needed methods to conserve their precious food.
A quarter of one cauliflower head, cut in the small roses, the size of cashew nuts, is to be transferred into a glass confit jar. It’s nice to use an authentic one, with orange rubber lining to secure keeping the jar air tight. But a former jam jar works just as well for these quick pickling methods. Add a six centimeter strip of orange peel to it. The jars I use contain 500 ml. But you can use any size. Then measure half of the content, in my case 250 ml, apple cider vinegar and the other half, 250 ml plain water and heat in a pot. Add a generous tablespoon of sugar and a generous tablespoon of salt. Heat until the salt and sugar are dissolved and the liquid is at the verge of boiling. Then take it from the heat and carefully poor it over the cauliflower in the glass jar. Close lid. Let it cool. Place in the fridge for 24 hours. After which it is ready to use although it can be kept pretty much timelessly. The hot liquid quick pickling method I prefer for hard vegetables like roots and cabbages or watermelon rind. The same conjunction of vinegar, water, salt and sugar can be poored cold as is, over soft vegetables like zucchini, cucumber or onion. What I like about quick pickling is that it’s so easy. Already after 24 hours, you can enjoy your very homemade pickles. To all handsome ladies and smart guys in the kitchen my message here is: ‘please don’t forget to KISS’, in other words, Keep It Stupid and Simple
Yesterday I made love with the love of my life during five hours. We parted and I felt pretty depleted. Both emotionally and physically. We both went our ways, picking up our kids from different schools. At the school of my children the weekly Thursday market is on and my youngest daughter’s class is due for bbq’ed sausages. As a culinary addict I love anything food related, including grilling supermarket sausages on a big professional bbq. Although my culinairy curiosity led me to raw veganism three years ago and for my own diet I happily stick to it. The scene at school I enthusiatically dive into can’t be further away from what I advocate as health inspired food. At least that’s what it seems. But actually for me preparing and delivering food goes beyond processing healthy ingredients. Substantial well being is fed with physical food and metaphysical energy that comes with assembling, cutting, cooking and presenting food, any food. Today at the Thursday market it’s the handing out to both kids and parents, that forms the nourishing ingredient. I sincerely think these sausages feed the kids and the parents in wholesome, complete ways because of the warm social setting at the schoolyard after school. On top of that preparing food for other people to me is a task of nobility. Even if it’s the cheapest processed food, when the offering contributes to social harmony and a sense of trust and connection between people in general, it gives a true sense of satisfaction and gratification. Food not only builds our bodies. It builds our families and our communities.
Only a few hours later it’s cold and almost dark outside. I park myself behind the stove in my own kitchen and start baking mini pancakes. Made of egg yolk, self raising flour, diary milk, turmeric, smoked red chilli and cumin. The creation of it and the joy I derive from it, with my senses fully open, are striking. ‘I want to discover what food is all about’ I tell myself. Or better even, ‘I want to discover what food and me are all about’. I want to unveil the secrets of our relationship, if I may be so frank.
Pretty woman recipes is meant to be a superficial account of what I do food related. Since I discovered food is not only about our taste buds but about all the senses. It’s an expression of feelings, emotions, beauty, sadness. It’s open or closed, restraint or let go, mixed with sweetness, spices, deliciousness and mishappenings. It’s as sensual as it can be fast. Most of all it surpasses the mind, our logic and the world as we understand it.