Posts Tagged ‘the Netherlands’

4 Children, 3 dogs, 3 continents and everywhere a party…

Posted by Winifred on July 1st, 2014  •  No Comments »

Suriname, you know the country where our parents were born, where we lived for some years in our youth, and that we cannot ever stop bragging about, has been re-discovered by Surinamers who like our parents, moved to the Netherlands and raised children there, and by the Dutch who having lived side by side with Surinamers for decades, become curious and want to experience this culture for themselves. Many have built homes there and regular vacationers abound. The Dutch love the climate, the stunning rain forest, the cuisine of Indian, Indonesian, Chinese and Surinaams influences, the value of the Euro and traveling to a place where they can speak Dutch. We discussed with our mother the influx of Dutch tourists to Suriname once, and she remarked that she understood why they would find it attractive. Oen sab mek presirie, oen sab borie, oen sab libie.

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We know how to entertain, we know how to cook, we know how to live. There could be no better way to describe the Surinamer, and it best describes our own recollection of our youth. Our parents had 4 children, their first when our mother was 21. They had moved from Suriname to the Netherlands where the four of us were born. Later we lived for some time in Barcelona, and as they had wanted to expose us to our roots, we also returned to Suriname, then back to the Netherlands. What is striking about it all now, is the effortlessness with which they were able to camp and decamp from country to country, continent to continent, at their whim. And once we were planted anywhere, there was always fun to be had. Presirie.

Our parents knew how to live. Kids bathed and in pajamas before the guests arrived, a quick polite hello to aunts and uncles, then off to bed. But never immediately off to sleep. Out would come the Johnny Walker, the Bols genever, cigarettes, Lieve Hugo playing in the background, and endless talk and laughter. Ma loved to laugh! If they were not entertaining at home, we always enjoyed the ritual of watching her prepare for an evening out, behind her vanity. In Suriname, they loved to go to Torarica and meet up with their friends for dinner and dancing. But Surinamers are a family oriented people. We do most of our partying with family and Sunday gatherings were what we lived for because then the cousins gathered and we could have fun too.

In Rotterdam, we would visit with Tante Joke and Oom Charles. Their dutch row house was the hub for the family and as they ran their own bar on the ground floor, the hub for many Surinamers living in The Netherlands. We loved Sunday with Familie Doest. Surinamers do not entertain without food, and we do not nibble. We cook as if catering a wedding, full meals, several courses, dessert. Tante Joke made the best Chinese style chicken soup but our favorite was by far the blood sausage. Yes, that’s what we said, bloedworst blood sausage, cow’s blood made into sausage, the most flavorful, fois gras textured delicacy, spicy, and delicious. Only recently did we discover that Tante Joke did not make those. They came from Oom Max.

No attachment parenting, mind numbing routine or constant exhaustion. Children just added to the festivities and sense of community. What we regret about coming to America is the loss, hard and immediate, of that community. The loss of stories, connection, history. The end of laughter. Tante Joke and Oom Charles have passed now. We worry they may have taken our stories with them. It will fall on us to hold on to what is left of them, to try to recreate them. Ours will be different from theirs. Still filled with family, but a smaller family, more American friends than Surinamers. California, not Rotterdam. There will be guitar, scavenger hunts, dinners, no cold, flavorless nibbles. There will be laughter; like ma we laugh loud and often. Even among our American friends, we interject Surinaams – Mr. K has already learned some of ma’s favorite sayings. Our playlist though heavy on Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, The Police will always require Lieve Hugo, Kassav, Latinos. Our menu may have pom, pastei, pindasoep. But we look forward to surprising with dessert, already practicing Gail Monaghan’s Fané.

 

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Oen sab mek presirie, oen sab borie, oen sab libie. We can never recreate bloedworst at Family Doest’s in Rotterdam. But we will speak Surinaams, dance to Lieve Hugo, and laugh. Always louder than anyone else…

TOTAL TIME About 5 hours, including 4 hours’ freezing and prior day’s prep

INGREDIENTS

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup plus 5 tablespoons superfine sugar
Cooking-oil spray
3 pints vanilla ice cream, softened
5 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
12 ounces hard white nougat, crushed into small pieces
3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) shaved bittersweet chocolate
PREPARATION

1.
The day before, prepare the meringue: preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar on low speed. When soft peaks form, increase the speed and sprinkle in 3/4 cup of the sugar until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
2.
Spread meringue into a rough 1-inch layer on baking sheet. Bake until slightly sticky when pierced with a knife, about 2 hours. Turn off oven and leave meringue inside for a few hours to dry completely. Break into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
3.
Four hours before serving, assemble the fané: spray the inside of a 4-quart metal bowl with cooking spray and lay a large piece of plastic wrap against the inside of the bowl. Spread the ice cream evenly over the entire inside of bowl and plastic wrap. Cover and freeze.
4.
Two hours before serving, whip the cream. When it begins to thicken, add remaining sugar and the vanilla, then beat to soft peaks. Set aside 2 cups of the whipped cream and refrigerate. Fold nougat into remaining whipped cream, then add to the ice-cream-lined bowl. Cover and freeze.
5.
Just before serving, rewhip the reserved whipped cream to firm peaks. Turn the bowl out onto a platter, separating the plastic wrap from the bowl. Remove the plastic wrap. Cover the ice cream with whipped cream, followed by chunks of meringue. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Let soften a bit at the table before cutting into wedges.
YIELD Serves 10 to 12

Posted in : A Taste Refined, Music, On Style  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How we came to love the hat….

Posted by Winifred on April 28th, 2014  •  No Comments »

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It seems timely to go over what it means for a little girl to discover her first role model and how the very existence thereof forever informs her life…

We were probably 7, maybe 8. Born and raised in the Netherlands, we also lived in Spain and then spent several years in Suriname, where our parents were born. After Suriname, we returned to the Netherlands. It was still an innocent time, few outside influences, a culture of little television, few magazines and we were too young for peer pressure. No outside world telling you you weren’t good enough. In fact, in our house, being an outsider was what we celebrated. Our parents spoke Surinaams, we ate Surinaams, we adhered to our culture of respect for elders, family values, entertaining big and celebrating big. Oen mek presirie, always. Dutch culture was for us often a bit of a joke. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be Surinaams, even as we recognized the greater opportunities for education and earnings potential of Holland.

Then, already cocooned by our Surinaams family, we allowed one snippet of influence to come into our home. That snippet was our first glimpse of Miss Diana Ross on Dutch Television. At that time, it took quite a while for American imports to reach Europe. We had never heard of ‘Mahogany,’ and were too young to know the Supremes. So our first introduction to Miss Diana Ross was in the much later part of her career. There she was, thin, brown, with big eyes and big hair. She was beautiful, she was famous, she was glamorous, she was rich. She was a big star and everybody loved her. And she looked like us. And in that instant we were programmed. To be thin, brown, have big eyes and big hair was the ultimate in beauty, fame and possibilities. We would never want to be anything else, but what we were: the Surinaams version of that very image.

It seems so timely to share this now, as we notice how often attempts are made to shake that programming. Whether in the media, or sometimes closer to home. And we feel bad for the many people impacted, young girls especially. It reminds us how lucky we are to have received the gift of Miss Ross, but also of our parents. First, the gift of parents who gave us so solid a foundation and connection to our roots that in a time when the Netherlands was not so multicultural, we never questioned the richness of who we were. And second, that before society was able to work on us, in came Miss Ross to forever sear in our minds, an image of beauty, glamour, elegance and style that ’till this day continues to inform, inspire and guide us.

When asked how she manages the negativity of the press, Venus Williams responded that she had from her birth been brainwashed by parents who only told her she was amazing and could achieve anything she wanted. She has no ability to think anything else. We could not be more grateful for being brainwashed…

Vintage

Image Via Villagevoice

Posted in : Beauty Refined, Head wear, In an Ideal World..., We digress  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our favorite vintage find…

Posted by Winifred on January 31st, 2014  •  No Comments »

Early on and always, our father dreamed in Spanish.  As a teenager in Suriname, he had become beguiled by the rhythms of Sonora Matancera.  He became determined to know the words that accompanied the drums, the trumpets, the moving vocals and he began to learn Spanish.  Then, he and our mother moved to the Netherlands and were married and he became a real student of the Spanish language.  He read Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  He traveled to Spain, he was lost to us forever.  

When he decided to immerse himself by studying in Spain, the family went with him.  We lived in Barcelona.  This is when our mother purchased some of her jewelry that we would covet from the time we first saw it.  The foot we wear on our Surinaams boto keti necklace, came from Spain.  We love the color, the smoothness, the unique shape of it.  We love our shared history of moving back with our family to the Netherlands, then to Suriname, returning with us to the Netherlands, and making the long journey to the United States.  

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It was with us when things were simpler, there to hear our parents’ laughter, see their dancing, smell their cigarettes and whiskey.  There to also see them grow apart…But what we love is that all of the significant experiences that make us who we are today, are carried with us through this piece.  It is only recently that our mother gave the foot to us. And that it is now witness to our glorious times and elegant times.  The foot is one of our most important things refined, forever our favorite vintage find.

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Posted in : Jewelry, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , ,