Tag Archives: India

The taste of Dutch summer

They say that in India, there’s a festival celebrated somewhere in the country every day of the year. Supposedly, its a testimony to the richness of the Indian culture. Some Indians, though, say its a testimony to the unwillingness of the Indians to work and their inventiveness in coming up with excuses to avoid working. As I am not concerned with India, but with Europe, I will leave this matter to the Indians. All I can tell you is that if you scan the calendars of the European countries you’ll surely find a festival every day somewhere on the old continent.

With over 50 countries and countless regions dotting Europe, the variety of festivals and celebrations is hardly a surprise. Some of these festivals, such as the Carnival in Venice or the running of the bulls in Pamplona, are well-known and are a regular feature on bucket lists. Others are more local, and maintain the local charm, swarmed by locals rather than the bucket-list waiving crowds. Like the Vlaggetjesdag, or Flags Day, in Scheveningen.

Originally, Vlaggetjesdag was the day when the herring fishing fleet would sail out to sea, on the Saturday before Pentecost. Nowadays, it is the start of the herring eating rather than herring fishing season that is being celebrated, and the festival has shifted to early June (8th of June this year). While not as famous as, for example, La Tomatina, Vlaggetjesdag events in Scheveningen, the Hague’s harbour, attract huge crowds. The first barrel of herring is auctioned, and the proceedings, running in tens of thousands of Euro, are donated to charity.

The taste of Dutch summer is new herring

The taste of Dutch summer is new herring

The question is – what do you do with herring? The Dutch usually treat it as a snack, eating it with or without onions, plain or in a white bread bun, and with a pickle in Amsterdam. But what if you want to make a meal out of it? As it requires extra no cooking, there’s no point in doing anything with the herring, but what does raw herring go with? Well, since new herring is available in the summer, how about a fresh quinoa salad?

Ingredients (for 4 persons):

  • 8 herrings
  • 300 g quinoa
  • 2 raw beetroots (300 g)
  • 150 g feta cheese
  • Fresh mint and parsley
  • Lemon julie
  • Olive oil

Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package. Skin and rasp the beetroots. Crumble the feta cheese. Chop the mint and parsley leaves. Mix everything together and spice with lemon juice, olive oil and some black pepper and serve with 2 herrings per person. Enjoy your very summery salad (with or without the herring).

Beetroot and quinoa salad - perfect for the hot summer evenings

Beetroot and quinoa salad – perfect for the hot summer evenings



Filed under Europe, Recipes, Small European things

The India experience

Guide books about India are full of stories of the weirdest touts that await the inexperienced traveller. So when an Indian fellow approached us in our hotel in Delhi with a request, we were a bit cautious. He was blind (dark glasses, walking stick, the whole nine yards) and he was wondering whether we would be so kind as to accompany him to the Swiss embassy the next day, to help arrange his visa. We bravely decided that in case of trouble the two of us can handle one old blind old guy, and the next morning we were waiting at the lobby at 7 am, still a bit surprised but very curious as to what the day shall bring.

Long story short, the blind man turned out to be a travelling yogi, a philosopher and a poet, who travels around the world giving lectures and workshops on the meaning of life, a man with a wonderful of sense of humour, of profound wisdom and of great depth. Less than 48 hours after arrival to India, we were right in a middle of what could be one of Rudyard Kypling’s novels – hanging out with a blind wandering guru.

This little episode demonstrates perfectly how India is… different. Different than anything you have seen, than everything you’ve been told about it, different than you’ve imagined. Every time I think about the month we’ve spent there, I am amazed how saturated our India experience has been. There is a million stories to tell about it, but India is a place you can’t describe. You need to experience it. Like we did:

P.S. So far I haven’t used any of the tags I’ve assigned to this post. India is different.

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Filed under Round-the-world trip, Travel

Leaving Europe

“See Petra and move on” was the motto of the Jordan leg of our round-the-world tour. However short the visit was, the three days spent in Jordan were long enough to comprehend the fact that we have left Europe – for real. The Petra entrance fees made the situation clear enough – 50 JD (55 Euro) for foreigners, 1 JD for Jordanians. From now on we were a walking ATM, and The White Man’s Burden was upon us.

This far out, even the English language becomes exotic

In Jordan, even being a statue is difficult for women

Despite the tourists crowds, Petra is an excellent place to experience what I call “The National Geographic feeling”

The message to those leaving Europe is loud and clear

Venturing beyond this point without a guide was dangerous. Needless to say we ventured beyond and returned safely. Actually, we’ve only seen this sign after we came in from the trail that starts beyond that point. Not that seeing it beforehand would have stopped us.

We were now in Asia and next stop was India, where the guidebook’s advice “try not to look like a tourist” was exactly as ridiculous as it sounds and where every legend and every tale ever told about India proved to be true. For good and for not-so-good, we were not in Europe anymore.

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Filed under Europe, Round-the-world trip, Travel