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eGfoodblog: markemorse


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You may not be a pom expert, Mark, but what with all the celebration of pom going on in this foodblog, I'm surprised you haven't put on a cheerleader outfit and started shaking pom-poms!

You may shoot me after I've finished this post.

So much of what you have described is surprising and/or revelatory – the fascinating history of the Indische kitchen, the lack of jalapenos in Amsterdam, the demographics of Suriname, and the availability of the same brands of Indonesian sambals in Amsterdam and Maryland.

When I was at our biggest, boringest grocery store chain Albert Heijn yesterday (I know...I was looking for soft foods)[...]

(emphasis added)

Wonder if that sambal in Maryland was purchased at a Giant food store?

A little Dutch-American connection, brought to you by global capitalism: People in the northeastern United States may "go Dutch" when they shop for groceries without being aware of it. Giant Food of Landover, Maryland (the dominant chain in the Washington, DC, market) -- and Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, plus Tops in New York State and Stop & Shop in New England and New Jersey -- are all units of Albert Heijn's parent company, Royal Ahold NV.

(And if our American shoppers stop to fill their tank with Shell gasoline on the way to the store, they're patronizing another well-known Dutch enterprise [Anglo-Dutch, technically, but Royal Dutch Petroleum is the dominant partner in Royal Dutch/Shell]).

I don't know whether this is discussed at all in schools today, but I remember learning in high school European history class about the mercantile bent of the Dutch, who were considered the first bourgeois society in Europe.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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You may not be a pom expert, Mark, but what with all the celebration of pom going on in this foodblog, I'm surprised you haven't put on a cheerleader outfit and started shaking pom-poms!

You may shoot me after I've finished this post.

Do you mean I might shoot you, maybe....or are you giving me permission? :raz:

And you do not want to see me in my cheerleader outfit. The skirt barely fits anymore.

Edited by markemorse (log)
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OK, so I'm in the city center, fulfilling some emergency catsitting/housewatching duties, and I just picked up a rijsttafel, to-go, which is a tad strange, but I didn't have the time or the appetite to consume the whole thing there. I won't be able to post pictures until later tonight, but I thought I'd give you a preface now:

+++

I told my server what I was trying to do regarding the exploration of the Indische kitchen, and I asked her if there was anything on my rijsttafel menu that you wouldn't find in Indonesia at all, you know that was a mutation specific to the Netherlands (I'm paraphrasing).

She said, not here: but if you go somewhere like Kantjil & de Tijger (a popular restaurant), you'll see things that don't exist in Indonesia at all...she called what they serve "Dutch-Indonesian food". She explained that the rijsttafel I ordered is all Indonesian food, but from a mix of different regions. Their chef is "from everywhere" in Indonesia (quite a claim!), and so this rijsttafel is a mix of Sumatran and Javan food, along with some specific dishes from Jakarta. Further, she said that if you tried to order some of these dishes in a restaurant in Indonesia, you'd get a blank stare or a funny look (I'm paraphrasing) b/c some of it is strictly street food (she didn't give examples).

Full report after a bunch of running around.

+++

Edited by markemorse (log)
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Great blog. I love your small house---it looks really comfortable, and it's not so much that your footprint is all that small (dining on a rooftop terrace, after all), but that it overlaps with other people's due to the density. Brilliant.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Great blog. I love your small house---it looks really comfortable, and it's not so much that your footprint is all that small (dining on a rooftop terrace, after all), but that it overlaps with other people's due to the density. Brilliant.

Right, that's why the footprint is small, we're sharing one big resource semi-efficiently. Though frankly I don't get the rooftop dining/footprint size correlation...we've got to have a roof, don't we? We might as well eat on it. :raz:

In other news, while I was taking a picture of some chicken satays, one of the cats I'm sitting sproinged into the frame and very deftly ran off with one of them. I think we were both equally surprised at her success. I retrieved it, but not without some effort and a psychotic ketjap trail through the apartment. Oh, kitties.

ETA: rooftop/footprint shizz.

Edited by markemorse (log)
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Mark, this blog is fascinating. Not only do you have the most clever pen, but so many issues, food and otherwise, are arising. Interesting that as an immigrant, you attach yourself to a different yet still immigrant cuisine...

What are your thoughts on Dutch food (though you do make an interesting point that the Dutch themselves have widely adopted this immigrant cooking)? And what about your food roots; do you ever think back to them or recreate dishes from them?

Thanks for a great and addictive read.

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Hey there...sorry for the radio silence, got sucked into non-food related social whirlwind. Unfortunately (for you), social whirlwind picks up again bright and early tomorrow morning with birthday picnic, so no time to post today's fotos until some time tomorrow evening. You understand, right?

In any case, tomorrow I will be switching out of Indische mode into Turkish/Moroccan mode (of course after we examine my rijsttafel)...should be good. Not to mention a provocative juxtaposition against Amsterdam Gay Pride festivities...

+++

Today I did remember to get a birthday present, but basically (I'm whining here) I still need to wake up in the morning and make something to bring to this too too early picnic, not totally sure what it's going to be but I'm leaning towards a chickpea salad I often make with tomatoes, EVOO, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, mint, cilantro, raw sweet onion, and some sort of nut which I don't yet have in the house. Probably almond, maybe pine nut.

Anyway, I know it sucks when foodblogs have big silences, but...mmm, yes we're currently experiencing a big silence. Sorry, hoor!

smooches

mark

Edited by markemorse (log)
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I lied! Rijsttafel pics:

The menu:

gallery_28661_4926_13813.jpg

nasi kuning (yellow saffron rice with coconut milk and fried onions):

gallery_28661_4926_11654.jpg

ayam goreng kering (grilled chicken):

gallery_28661_4926_7790.jpg

kredok (salad with peanut sauce):

gallery_28661_4926_7159.jpg

saté sapi (beef with ketjap and peanut sauce):

gallery_28661_4926_3685.jpg

sambal goreng telor (eggs in spicy coconut sauce):

gallery_28661_4926_6314.jpg

rendang (spicy beef with coconut):

gallery_28661_4926_11677.jpg

sayur lodeh (vegetables in coconut milk):

gallery_28661_4926_10262.jpg

roejak manis (fruit in sweet/spicy sauce):

gallery_28661_4926_12209.jpg

sambal goreng tempeh (fried tempeh and sambal):

gallery_28661_4926_8391.jpg

atjar:

gallery_28661_4926_11239.jpg

ayam bumbu bali (chicken in gravy spicy sauce [?]):

gallery_28661_4926_17712.jpg

+++

Not pictured: seroendeng, emping. Commentary tomorrow night.

ETA: the usual.

Edited by markemorse (log)
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I lied! Rijsttafel pics:

The menu:

gallery_28661_4926_13813.jpg

nasi kuning (yellow saffron rice with coconut milk and fried onions):

Are you sure it's saffron? Isn't it turmeric?

Hi May, that's what I would've thought, but the menu says (you can almost read it up there at the tippy-top) "gele saffraanrijst". I didn't see the rice 'til I got home so I couldn't ask my helpful server at that point. But yes, turmeric would make much more sense...

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Mark, I am absolutely drooling at the rijsttafel pictures and can’t wait to hear your commentary.

In yet another cross-cultural naming snafu, kouseband is the Surinamese name for the long bean pictured above. Googling it turns up articles that describe it as being of West African descent. Are they the same thing as yard-long beans? IDFK. :laugh:

Yard-long beans and kouseband seem to be the same thing, with the scientific name of Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis. Plant trivia: yard-long beans are usually harvested at about a foot and a half (sesquipedalis in Latin). According to this website (click) yard-long beans are “a favorite of the Surinam kitchen.”

And so it goes full circle.

Wonder if that sambal in Maryland was purchased at a Giant food store?

Sandy, your knowledge of the food business is comprehensive, but we found the sambals at an Asian market. Our family shopped at Giant Food since I was a wee lad, but unfortunately their stores – especially the produce section – have gone downhill since Royal Ahold’s takeover. We now drive past Giant to shop elsewhere.

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And what about your food roots; do you ever think back to them or recreate dishes from them?

Thanks for the nice words, sharonb...I'll answer your second question first. I don't have a ton of relevant food memories from my pre-adult years other than what we would now probably call junk food...my personal obsession with cooking was sparked in 1992 or so, I was working for the only company that would hire me after college (I was an English major ["ah, yes...say no more"], and they were a big famous software company known for oddball interview questions), and though I was living in Atlanta, I started spending a lot of time in Seattle and New Orleans. My parents had also moved to Phoenix at this point, and it was in these four cities that I learned about what food could be like. And I had an expense account for the first (only, actually) time. :smile:

In Atlanta I learned about Asian food, we spent a ton of time on Buford Hwy eating as much pho as possible, and scouring the rest of the city looking for new BBQ; in Phoenix I was bitten by the chilehead vampire at one of the restaurants my parents would take me to, I think Richardson's was my first revelatory Southwestern experience, I've never fully recovered: it's my favorite regional American cuisine; Seattle is where I had my first absolutely mindblowing restaurant meals (the first: Tom Douglas' Dahlia Lounge, roasted chicken with polenta and mushrooms, I wanted to box it up and FedEx it to Mara). And I still have a huge soft spot for New Orleans-style cooking.

+++

And to partially answer Kent Wang's earlier question, how did that lead to this? By 1998 or so, we had a big ol' house in suburban Atlanta and life seemed pretty good: we really had not a serious care in the world...other than a growing, oppressive feeling of "eh...is this it?" I had been truly devoted to my first "real job" at the outset, it was a fantastic, incredible place to work, but my employer had grown so humongous so quickly that by '98 I felt severely out of touch with the new office culture and the company's behavior in general. And the suburbs were killing us.

So, we decided to bolt. The most obvious choice was Seattle: we'd spent a lot of time there, and I'd kind of become an adult there: plus my first microbrews and unfettered carousing happened there. :raz: But we eventually decided that if we were really going to actually leave Atlanta (where we had serious roots), then we should do something really drastic. Thus: we headed to Yurp. This could've been more carefully considered. But then maybe we wouldn't have done it, and that's unimaginable. More later on the specifics of "why Amsterdam".

+++

So, to answer your original question, sharonb...these are my food roots, and these are the styles of American cooking that I spend the most time with...:smile:

Edited by markemorse (log)
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O-kay. Way behind at this point, but let's see if we can't catch ourselves up right quick. Quick teaser from today's extremely entertaining Amsterdam Gay Pride canal parade:

gallery_28661_4926_2870.jpg

This doesn't begin to convey the sheer size of the event, or the amazingly positive and happy vibe in the air. Recipe for beefcake to follow. :shock:

gallery_28661_4926_3417.jpg

+++

Edited by markemorse (log)
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Let's see, ok, right, Friday. If you'll remember, I had a bunch of running around to do, first to my emergency housesitting gig:

gallery_28661_4926_25153.jpg

where I stole a couple of stroopwafels from the cupboard. It's ok, they owe me.

Then, I descended into the unfamilar territory of the flower market:

gallery_28661_4926_12864.jpg

to pick up my to-go rijsttafel, where I enjoyed an idle moment with some Indonesian beer and multiflavored kroepoek (wasabi, sambal, and some "pink flavor" I couldn't quite identify):

gallery_28661_4926_7677.jpg

I didn't have time to eat my rijsttafel because I had to go to the aforementioned "other squat" I work at for a meeting.

gallery_28661_4926_15346.jpg

Where I received a healthy dose of guilt (self-imposed) because everyone else is inside painting and renovating while I'm out in the sunshine thinking and writing about food:

gallery_28661_4926_7758.jpg

Tough titty! My rijsttafel was aging. Got it home and...well it was all pretty great....you've seen the pictures. Highlights: ayam bumbu bali, rendang, and I'm always partial to sayur lodeh.

+++

I'm afraid I don't have time to say a ton about the Indonesian influence here...

Regarding rijsttafel: as you may know (and as Chufi alluded to earlier), rijsttafel is a purely Dutch invention, a legacy of the colonial period. The risjttafel most likely evolved out of a desire to maintain or emulate the almost constantly celebratory atmosphere of the Dutch colonials in Indonesia: the more dishes, the better the party.

Rijsttafels are typically anywhere from 8 to 20 or so small dishes, different but complementary, historically eaten sort of Thanksgiving-style: you grab this and that from various serving plates and pile it on top of a base of rice. Not authentically Indonesian, but geez, I love it: what's not to love?

+++

The Dutch-Indonesian connection is more than 300 years old, and comparatively speaking, it's the "foreign" cuisine that has had the greatest impact to date on the way Dutch people eat today. As Chufi said, "everyone knows sate and bami." This is a fantastic and unique thing for a European country to be able to say, IMHO.

Edited by markemorse (log)
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Where are you getting your Indonesian?

we got our dinner at Toko Madjoe in Amstelveen (about 10 minutes by car from Amsterdam). It was good, but not as good as last time we went there, when I was just blown away. That did not happen yesterday. Still, really good food!

Looks like you had a fun time at the Gay Parade.. Silly me for trying to ´warn´you about this event :raz:

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As Chufi said, "everyone knows sate and bami." This is a fantastic and unique thing for a European country to be able to say, IMHO.

maybe comparable to curry in England? just thinking out loud...

Kinda...but in my mind, Indian food has quite a high profile globally (you can find Indian food almost anywhere in America, and I've eaten it in several non-UK European countries), whereas Indonesian food is generally tough to find outside of Southeast Asia and the Netherlands. When I lived in Atlanta there was one Indonesian restaurant (in a city of 5 million people). And 50 Indian restaurants (not statistically accurate...therese or someone from Atlanta, help me out here :raz: ).

Edited by markemorse (log)
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I guess my point was, Indonesian food, though wonderfully complex and distinctive, is really still a niche cuisine: it's barely accessible outside of Southeast Asia (compared to other Asian cuisines). So for it to be so deeply integrated into the eating habits of a small, geographically distant European country, and only that country...is pretty cool. For you and me, at least. :smile:

Edited by markemorse (log)
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I guess my point was, Indonesian food, though wonderfully complex and distinctive, is really still a niche cuisine: it's barely accessible outside of Southeast Asia (compared to other Asian cuisines). So for it to be so deeply integrated into the eating habits of a small, geographically distant European country, and only that country...is pretty cool. For you and me, at least. :smile:

I agree. One of the things this blog is doing for me, is making me realize again how lucky I am to live in a country with such a wide and varied array of foodstuffs.. and that there´s still so much more out there for me to try :smile:

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I guess my point was, Indonesian food, though wonderfully complex and distinctive, is really still a niche cuisine: it's barely accessible outside of Southeast Asia (compared to other Asian cuisines). So for it to be so deeply integrated into the eating habits of a small, geographically distant European country, and only that country...is pretty cool. For you and me, at least. :smile:

I agree. One of the things this blog is doing for me, is making me realize again how lucky I am to live in a country with such a wide and varied array of foodstuffs.. and that there´s still so much more out there for me to try :smile:

Me too! :laugh:

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Just caught up. Wow. Terrific blog. I so want to go to Amsterdam one of these days. I'm digging how your interests in music and food overlap, as those two interests also overlap in my life. In fact, one of the many reasons why I'd like to visit Amsterdam one of these days is the fact that one of my musician friends performs there on a semi-regular basis. Thanks for making the idea of such a visit even more tempting. :smile:

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I guess my point was, Indonesian food, though wonderfully complex and distinctive, is really still a niche cuisine: it's barely accessible outside of Southeast Asia (compared to other Asian cuisines). So for it to be so deeply integrated into the eating habits of a small, geographically distant European country, and only that country...is pretty cool. For you and me, at least. :smile:

I have to agree that this is totally, totally surreal for someone who hasn't lived in the Netherlands.

Wondering, though, if the French incorporation of Maghrebin food is an apposite parallel. Maybe not, because merguez, briks, couscous and pastillas are probably more common in other places than the dishes you're describing as commonplace in the Netherlands...

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Well these last couple comments provide a convenient segue into our necessarily and unfortunately brief discussion of Turkish and Moroccan food in Amsterdam (though please feel free to keep discussing the Indonesian angle...I'm just running out of time)...

gallery_28661_4926_696.jpg

Edited by markemorse (log)
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