Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hashee with the DeLeeuw's

Last night F and I travelled to Haarlem for dinner with Henk and Yvonne. I always think Haarlem is very far away, but it's really not that much trouble to get to. We ride the Metro a few stops and then transfer to the train, which takes a good ten minutes or so. On the train, we saw Yvonne. She was coming home from work. We sat for a while sort of glancing over at her, waiting for her to notice us so we could say, "Oh! We didn't see you there!" I just didn't want to stand. I was very happy sitting.

Eventually F said that we should stand and approach her. The walk from the train to Henk and Yvonne's house is particularly not a problem. When we go to his siblings' houses, it's always quite a lope from the station, and in the bleak midwinter, I don't find that any fun.

Henk was already home, as he is recovering from a back injury - as he has been for several months. He's a cheery fellow. He always complements my Dutch and says how well I'm doing even if it's just a simple response to a question. It's always, "Oh! You are doing so well!" It's a little much.

Henk had been cooking dinner for us all day. In truth, I found out later, it's just a matter of cutting things up and letting it stew all day. It was Hashee. It's beef and onions cooked on low heat for hours and hours. It's served with boiled potatoes. The type of potatoes they served are the kind that stay together when boiled, but can be easily sliced into bite-sized pieces. When we make a stampot (mashed potatoes with other things thrown in) we use a different type of potato. I admire the potato variety here.

One thing about Henk is that he's very "man of the house." A couple of times, he said, in Dutch, "Yvonne, are you going to start the potatoes?" in a very comanding tone. Yvonne just continued talking or listening with a stone cold expression. She doesn't really pay that much attention to his feelings of being "head of the household."

The meal was very good. I was surprised. Potatoes were passed around and we each took some. I was slow and methodical, looking around the table at how it was eaten. Yvonne is a bit of a masher. F and Henk cut. I cut. Then the hashee, which was basically a stew, was passed around. It was spooned over the potatoes. I was delighted with it. F said that it's the one thing that Henk makes. I'd had hashee at Riekerhof and I was not impressed. It was just stewed beef. Henk's had tons of onions in it and a nice sauce.

F said that he didn't love it. Apparently his mother made it better. F thinks it was a question of salt content. Gre used more - she also used to put sugar in the vegetables. Having not been introduced to it until last night, I was very happy with it.

After dinner, we sat and talked. They talked and I practiced listening. I love listening to Yvonne talk. She talks so slowly and deliberately (as if every word is SO important) that I can understand everything she says - or 80%. Henk kept promising another driving lesson. We'll see.

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