Friday, May 25, 2007

Last Day in Holland

Our last day has come upon us and boy did it come fast. I had a feeling when we were at LAX just a week ago that our time in Holland would be too short. There is just too much family to see. So yes, it is a little sad, but at the same time I feel fortunate to have made the trip to see everyone. In addition, Nicole had a blast interacting with the family and learning a whole new side of me and the Dutch culture.

Our first priority of the day was to retrieve Nicole's computer from Nestle which was located in Dieman, but we had to be in Den Hague to visit my Aunt Irma at the same time. Problem is they are not very close to each other. Wim was kind enough to take Nicole to her work and Saskia, the kids, and I headed to Irma's so that we could get a head start on all the Indonesian treats she prepared. Unfortunately, Nestle was not able to fix the computer and we would have to come back later in the day.

We had lumpia, which are like egg rolls, but they are larger. These crunchy delights were filled with marinated chunks of pork, carrots and bamboo shoots which were all coated with a soy based bbq sauce. The rosales was also very special and looked like a lot of work. The filling is based on a roux with beef, carrots and potato. It is then highly seasoned as the pepper flavor permeated my palate, stuffed into a crepe then coated with breadcrumbs and fried. Crunch on the outside and soft on the inside. As you can see, we are playing with contrasting textures. The pastai looked like an empanada. The filling of ginger chicken and glass noodles stuffed into a flaky pastry dough and folded into a half moon shape with all the edges crimped. Lastly, we had one of my favorite desserts - spekoek. This is a spice cake made with clove, ginger, and nutmeg. The difference is that the cake is made with 2 batters. There is a white layer that alternates with a dark layer each about an 1/8 inch thick. I could only imagine how much work this has to be because each layer would need to cook individually. I think this is something I want to bring back to the states.

We spent our day with Irma learning about my mother as a child, about Japanese concentration camps in Indonesia, and about the struggles the colonizing Dutch citizens had during and after World War II. These stories really put things in perscpective when I realized that their struggles actually had to do with surviving, living and finding their next meals and my struggles, well, are mostly struggles with convenience. It made Nicole and I realize that when things are bad, they are really not THAT bad.

We began our trek back to Nestle in Dutch rush hour. Thankfully, the computer was fixed!! What a relief for all of us, but now we were to battle the traffic back to Amersfoort. Two hours later we arrived just in time for the last family dinner. We had a nice crowd with Ryan, Jan Willem, Hedy, Hans, Tjilly, Saskia, Wim, Jasper, Willamijn, Karlijn, Nicole and I. We went to a little Italian restaurant Sole O Mio and shared more laughs, more conversation and even more tears as we realized our visit was over. We had regular Italian fare like Spaghetti Bolognese, carpaccio, lasagna, veal scallopine and of course pizza.

What a week it has been. The generosity of Saskia and Wim was unprecedented. They made us feel like we were in our own home and went above and beyond with their giving. Nicole and I cannot wait for them to make their visit to the U.S. next year so that we can return the favor.

Well, tot ziens from Holland and bon jour from France. Our next stop - Paris!

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