Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Dinner

After not doing much all day, we left for Haarlem at 4:30. It was a crisp, dry, dark afternoon. I usually dread the walk from the train station in Haarlem to Ada's house. It wasn't so bad. Of course I'm a hat and gloves man. Fred was a little chilled by the time we got there.

We greeted everyone and took a seat. Ada made some tea and we all had a cup. This is not a drinking family. They drink wine at dinner, but not much else.

I was surprised that I got through the entire evening without anyone slipping into English. I threw in the occasional English word, but for all intents and purposes, it was all Dutch all the time. Once in a while, when I wasn't paying attention, the conversation got away from me, but I just pretended that I knew what was going on until I caught on again. Only once did I fake it and get caught. It was when they started talking about the transit strike in NYC. It was the Dutch word for "strike" that threw me. But I recovered. There was also a discussion of Narnia that I listened to, and I understood one guy's view point, but having not read the book or seen the movie (I've only heard two sermons on my ipod), I decided not to comment.

It was a very Dutch meal. Last year was a gormet - where everyone cooks their own meat, which is pre-cut in bitesize pieces. This year it was rolade (row-LAH-duh), a piece of pork that was pre-cooked, but then you have to saute it in butter and let it sit. Then it's cut into very thin slices. It's served cold with warm cranberry sauce. It was amazingly moist. It can get dried out. We also had the obligitory potato dish - little balls, sauted.

Then we had green beans with a mushroom sauce. It was just like Thanksgiving green beans, but without the onions on top and the beans and the sauce were served separately. I've never seen it before. Of course it was really good. I wonder if that combination was borrowed by the Americans. It was the same reaction I had to find out that "cole slaw" is a literal translation of the Dutch for "cabbage salad" - kool sla. It sounds the same and everything. Like, Wow, that was totally ripped off - and nobody knows it.

The Dutch eat slow compared to Americans. At one point, my blood sugar hit the floor and it was all I could do to stay awake. I think my body was just overwhelmed by food and the room was warm. I recovered and coffee was served. It was a very nice evening. Ada once pulled me aside and said, "You know, Fred is my favorite." I said, "I know. You're his favorite, too." The whole family is very nice, not the most exciting bunch, but all very even keel and nice, welcoming. It's always good to got there.

We left at 11:20. On the way home, we talked about everyone's accent and how they talk. Mense is Dutch, but has that Suriname thing going on. He mumbles a bit and Fred said he understood that I might not catch every word. Most everyone else is fairly easily understandable. Everyone has their own pace and speech pattern, but it's doable.

It's always nice to get home. We're on rock and roll hours during the Christmas holiday. We keep getting to bed at 2:30 and sleeping late. I need to not do that again. I only have one more day before I have to be back at work. Tonight we have Henk and Yvonne here for Second Christmas Day dinner. I'm cooking a white fish smeared with sundried tomatoe and wrapped in ham. Fred's making a side dish of leeks and some sort of rice based dessert with baked apples. Should be lekker!

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