Aside from my usual food cravings, such as sweet and salty, I often find myself looking for a crunch. Crunchy snacks are one of my favourite types. I usually choose kettle chips to satisfy this craving, but it comes at a price to my waistline. Lately, Ive been trying to find an alternative to chips, that still satisfies my craving. I tried the baked kale, hated it. A part of me wonders if people just pretend to like it because its healthy. I moved on to roasting chic peas, and I definitively found myself a winner! They are so easy to make. Just crack open a can of chic peas, season them, and throw them in the oven to bake for 30-40 mins at about 400 degrees. You end up with a crunchy delicious treat, that is actually good for you! I want to experiment with a sweet version. Im not sure how good that will taste, but its worth a try. Seriously, for any person looking for something crunchy to munch on, this is the best!
Living on a students budget in Amsterdam means getting a little bit more creative with food. Whether its working with the bare bones of your kitchen cabinet, or shopping at little markets to score a good price, there are many ways to pinch pennies. One of my go to methods to save, is cutting down on meat. The reality is that meat is expensive. It is the most expensive thing on my grocery list, and Ive realized it adds up quickly. To bring down my costs, I have been trying to eat more vegetarian. I cook with a ton of chic peas, eat eggs and cook up meaty vegetables like eggplant. Cooking without meat has forced me to become more creative with my meals, and I enjoy the challenge. My last dish was a kale salad with avocado and sautéed eggplant. I cooked up some broccoli on the side, just because I like to have more than a one dish meal. It was filling and delicious. If I could afford to eat more meat, I know I would be. I can’t help it, I just love the stuff. But, I will say that eating vegetarian has been fun and tasty. I would definitely recommend cutting down on your meat dishes, and incorporating a little more vegetarian into your life.
Love it or hate it, the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas has taken over the city of Amsterdam. Today was the big parade, where Sinterklaas and his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten, march across the city from the Amstel to Liedseplein. While the official parade took off today, the actual gift giving won’t happen until December 5th. Sinterklaas travels from Spain with his helpers, and distributes gifts to the children of the netherlands. The obvious controversy about “his helpers” is that they are white people who don black face. The Dutch have tried to calm some of the backlash against this obviously radicalized display, by claiming that the Zwarte Pieten have black faces because they travel down the chimney and become covered in soot. However, this obviously doesn’t explain the red lips and the afros.
With the racial element aside, the holiday does have a lot of heartwarming attributes. Families line up all along the city with their children to watch the parade, and ask the Pieten to give them candy. The Pieten hand out Kruidnoten, which is a type of gingerbread, and the kids scream and wave their arms to try and get their attention so they can have as many cookies as possible. People from all different ethnicities came out to the parade, and it was clear that above all, this holiday is about Dutch pride and heritage. I don’t agree with the portrayal of Zwarte Pieten, and I think it could be easily rectified by ditching the black face; but the Dutch are very passionate about preserving their holiday.
It is definitely something you should see in your lifetime, it is a very interesting event. Im glad I got a chance to watch it, even if I don’t agree with all of the elements of the holiday.
Yesterday, I went with a big group of friends to Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a pretty short train ride away from Amsterdam, but when you arrive you feel like you’ve traveled to another country. You can immediately feel the stark contrast between Rotterdam and Amsterdam the second you get off the train. Rotterdam is characterized by modern buildings, grey tones, and clean lines. The various art installations around the city feel industrial, to match the aesthetic of the city. After being wiped out during the war, Rotterdam was rebuilt to signify – in my opinion – the start of something fresh and new. Its not that I didn’t like Rotterdam, but I think if I had come to Europe and chosen Rotterdam to study, I would have been disappointed. To be honest, Rotterdam reminds me too much of Toronto, and I wanted to study abroad to explore something different than my home.
What I love about Amsterdam is the history. I love the feeling of walking down the cobblestone streets, and looking up at the canal houses thinking that, someone has walked this same road, and seen this same view, hundreds of years prior. I just feel like I’m in a fairytale in Amsterdam, and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything. I don’t think I’ve given Rotterdam enough of a chance, I should go back and explore more. However, I do know that being in Rotterdam was reification of my decision to study in Amsterdam. One of the best decisions of my life.
I am so glad that the Dutch are a tea and cookies kind of people. That is definitively one tradition I can get on board with. I like to take tea breaks in the middle of my day now. It helps me unwind and refresh. When Im feeling particularly adventurous, I make myself a soy milk tea latte. I bought a speculoos flavoured tea, which basically means that it is a black tea with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger in it. Sort of similar to a chai tea. I heat up some soy milk and add honey to it, and do a 50/50 ratio with water. I can’t wait to make my next latte because my German friend brought me back the most incredible honey from her home town. It is locally made in a little honey shop, and it is flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon. I can only imagine how well it will pair with my speculoos tea. I really recommend a solid tea time, 1-2 times a day. Nothing feels better than a hot cup of tea and some cookies 🙂