Part 1: A culinary masterpiece

Written by Bert Plomp

Who isn’t regularly treated to a culinary masterpiece at home these days? It’s fantastic how spouses go to great lengths in the kitchen, literally pulling out all the stops to conjure something special on the table. And it seems that the bar is continually being raised, reaching heavenly heights. Modern dining is like dining as a god in France. I can speak to this because I have often been to France, both for business and leisure. Honestly, I wonder what God specifically finds in France. I mean, there are so many countries in Europe where you can eat wonderfully, and where people are much more customer-friendly. In ‘la douce France,’ if you want something to consume during lunchtime, you have to visit one place for a cup of coffee and another for a pastry. If you’re in the mood for a bowl of soup, you have to knock on the door of yet another establishment. It’s truly maddening. If you crave a full meal and arrive around half past one at a restaurant, a waiter rushes towards you, agitated, to lock the door in your face because it’s closing time. In that regard, I am quite done with France, and especially Paris. Although, when it comes to the rural areas, the program ‘Gort à la Carte’ did make me reconsider.

I have been very spoiled in Ireland. If I ask for a warm meal in the morning or want to consume a ‘full Irish breakfast’ in the evening, the restaurateur is more than happy to prepare it for me.

Like in other highly rated culinary countries, there is a fight for a Michelin star in the Netherlands. A certain restaurateur even committed murder for it, even if it meant risking his own life. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing an individual with a tall, white chef’s hat bustling around among steaming pots. You see such a chef in the background of a talk show or in the foreground of one of the many cooking programs. When you see these culinary individuals at work and hear them talk, you almost get the impression that you are watching a scientific program. Of course, food is essential for humans, and it’s good that attention is paid to it. But can’t it be toned down a bit?

My mother was a true kitchen princess in the past. I dare say that in the fifties, she was considered a pioneer in the culinary field. It was her passion to experiment with food. Her weekly favorite fish dish, ‘Haddock with beets and mustard sauce,’ was an absolute highlight among all the other meals.

In those years, you saw children running everywhere on the streets, running during a game, on the way to school, or on the way home. Today, it’s a rarity to see a running child. Children no longer play outside. Many children are too overweight to run and suffer from obesity. Many children are too weak to run and suffer from anorexia. Many children suffer from ADHD and run around the house all day. But only around the house. Sometimes you’d rather stick such a child behind the wallpaper. Then there are children burdened with Autism, ADD, ODD, CD, Dyscalculia, Asperger’s Syndrome, and what have you. It seems that there are only a few children who are perfectly fine, who are normal.

In my elementary school days, I didn’t know anyone who had something wrong with them. There was no special education for children with disabilities back then. There were a few children, like me, who behaved differently. But that wasn’t a reason to treat them differently. Especially not for us children. I remember two brothers in my elementary school who behaved somewhat remarkably. They were two dark-haired, white boys. I witnessed them a few times picking up a hardened dog turd from the street and then eating it with relish. Perhaps they had learned from their parents that such a turd still contained a lot of nutrients, namely fat and protein. Now I can better understand that. If I see how quickly my Border Collie Lizzy devours her meal, then it must come out practically unchanged at the back. In the blink of an eye, her bowl is always empty. She doesn’t chew her food; she swallows it straight down. The same fate awaits her daily DentaStyx chew. In a few bites, it’s gone. While the chew is supposed to work like a toothbrush for dogs. If the dog chews on it for a long time, its teeth and molars become cleaner and whiter. Not in Lizzy’s case. The eating process is very different for Maeve, another one of my Border Collies. When I set her food bowl, she starts with a kind of warm-up. She stretches her front legs in front of the bowl, looks at the content, and then starts eating very slowly. Again, kibble with fresh chicken, she must think at such moments. Sometimes she leaves her food completely untouched and waits until it’s lunchtime. When she starts eating, she chews each piece so finely that it approaches molecular boundaries. Therefore, I don’t expect her feces to contain any nutritional value.

Of course, I was surprised that the two boys consumed a turd. However, I saw no harm in it. They are children with a special taste, I thought.


For all episodes, click on: You’ll have to take potluck

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