Culture

Day of Remembrance (Or: Jewish monument of The Hague)

Today was a Holocaust Day of Remembrance in The Hague for the Jewish population. There was a small ceremony held in the city centre in the afternoon to remember those who were lost during WWII.

The Jewish monument in The Hague – at Rabbijn Maarsenplein, a Jewish neighborhood prior to WWII

You can read more about the monument at the official website (nl | en). Also something interesting: some of the flowers came from various embassies, including Germany, Austria, and Israel. Others came from citizens.

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Warm weather (Or: Who needs a jacket?)

Yesterday I had the day off so I went for a walk. The weather has been great for the Easter holiday: 70-75F with a ton of sun. One of the places I walked through is the Binnenhof, a place mentioned a lot on this blog. I like going there and watching the tourists, actually. It’s weird to live somewhere that tourists visit. So I go there and watch the families and friends excitedly taking photos of this and that…

Here is my photo, with the beautiful blue sky behind.

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The yearly tradition (Or: Zuurkool, better known as Sauerkraut)

Last Tuesday Marco’s mom made zuurkool for Marco and I (yay!). The three of us have an agreement that she makes zuurkool once a year, when it gets cold out.

This year worked perfectly as Tuesday was the first snowfall in here in the Netherlands. Only about half an inch, give or take, and gone within a day or so. Nothing compared to the cold weather which parts of the U.S. are getting with that polar vortex!

Zuurkool was on Tuesday’s menu

The best way to describe zuurkool is “sour mashed potatoes” (indeed, the Dutch version is generally a combination of zuurkool and potatoes).

It’s very tasty when the weather is cold out. Which is exactly what I said last year, it looks like…

Categories: Culture, Food | 2 Comments

The fables of Jean de la Fontaine (Or: Exhibition at the Central Library)

From now through April 1st, there is an exhibition (De Raaf, de Vos en Kornuiten) going on at the Central Library. That translates as The raven, the fox, and his mates. The exhibition covers the work of Jean de la Fontaine, a French fabulist.

The header translates as “A lesson in behavior”. The beginning of the text reads: “A fable is a short story or poem with a moral. The intent is to both amuse you and to teach you something. You can think of the moral as the soul of the fable…”

The fables shown in the library were translated by Rob Scholten while Carlijn van Vlijmen worked on the illustrations.

“The monkey and the dolphin”
“The wolf and the dog”

As mentioned, the exhibit runs through April 1st and can be seen on the first floor of the Central Library, next to the escalators.

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A sea of fire (Or: An age-old war gets out of hand)

Every year on New Year’s Eve, Scheveningen and Duindorp build huge bonfires, one trying to outdo the other. They are actually right by each other, with Scheveningen on the north side of the beach and Duindorp on the south side.

Bonfire for New Years 2015-2016. Credit: Guinness World Records

The above picture is from Scheveningen in 2015-2016, when it captured the Guinness World Record for largest bonfire at 8,695 cubic meters. And Duindorp had the record the year before that, to give you some idea of the competition (!).

Here is a link to a drone video of the preparation earlier last week. The cool thing is you can see the other bonfire rising up at the other end of the beach as well. The preparation was not without some hard feelings this year. For instance a truck with pallets for Duindorp accidentally drove to Scheveningen and unloaded the pallets there. The article also goes on to say that Duindorp reached its maximum height and was told to stop, while Scheveningen was at a similar height but was not told to stop building. For that reason, Duindorp started adding more pallets overnight, but stopped again when morning broke. And the article also mentions that some youth in Duindorp were threatening “builders” for the bonfire in Scheveningen who happened to also live in Duindorp.

So you can see that things were a bit riled up this year, which led to the bonfires being higher than they should have been (safety wise). But everything was approved and went ahead last night, and when the bonfire in Scheveningen was lit, it was spectacular.

And then the wind quickly changed direction, and two things were brought with it (video from nu.nl): a rain of fire descending on the beach and nearby houses, and tornados of fire. Actual tornados! One of the beach tents started burning and the fire department cleared out the boulevard as no one wanted to get out of the way for emergency vehicles. They had to use a bit of force (and police dogs) to get everyone to clear out.

Credit Regio15.nl, Ruben van Essen. Original article, with more photos and videos

Here you can see some of the damage to the surrounding area. Luckily there were no injuries. The fire department did an exceptional job keeping some of the more important buildings wet throughout the night (including the Old Church) to keep them safe.

In the aftermath, the organizer said that this might just be the last bonfire Scheveningen hosts (and almost definitely the last bonfire he would organize), but time will tell. The mayor did say that The Hague needed to look into whether this one would be the last one after the clean up was complete.

On a happier note, the Scheveningen beach was also the site of the New Year’s Dive this morning. I was smart and just watched it on TV – that’s enough for me!

Edited to add (2 January 2019): Omroep West has written a news article about why canceling the bonfire was not an option, due to intimidation and threats.

Categories: Culture, Holidays, Scheveningen | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Girl with the pearl earring (Or: Keychain at VVV The Hague)

Over at VVV tourist information office, on the ground floor of the Central Library, you can find a rather special looking keychain of ‘Girl with the pearl earring’:

Girl with the pearl earring key chain at VVV The Hague

It looks pretty cool, although I can’t help but think she looks a bit annoyed at someone (in my opinion the shape of the dark brown eye piece makes it look like she is frowning).

Here’s a look at the actual painting on Wikipedia to compare.

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Grote Kerk in Breda (Or: Step back in time)

As mentioned in my last blog post, Marco and I spent our 5th anniversary in Breda. One of the places we visited was the Grote Kerk (Church of Our Lady) which was built between 1410 (!) and 1547. The church serves as a mausoleum for the first generations of the Nassau family (a total of 17 family members being buried there). After the Spanish invaded Breda, the Nassau family began to use the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Delft instead.

Here are some of the photos which I took of this magnificent church:

Grote Kerk in Breda, chandeliers

Grote Kerk in Breda, prayer candles

close up of prayer candles in a secluded part of the church

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Kruidnoten (Or: The state of Christmas this year)

Back in 2013 I wrote a blog post called Kruidnoten (Or: Christmas comes earlier every year). That post mentioned how kruidnoten (Wikipedia) were readily available after September 1st. This candy is traditionally seen in the month of December, both for the Sinterklaas holiday on December 5 as well as Christmas.

This year they were definitely available by August 23, when this photo was taken in a local Hema. Heh.

Kruidnoten by Hema, August 2018.jpg

I give it another 5 years, and then they will be available everywhere by August 1st.

(And in case my parents are wondering, yes, we’ll bring some the next time we visit.)

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Veteranendag (Or: Veteran’s day in the Netherlands)

Today was the 14th Veteran’s day in the Netherlands, held in The Hague. (official website in Dutch). It is comprised of a parade and events at the Malieveld, a large field just outside of The Hague’s Central Station. During the parade there was also a flyover performed by the Royal Dutch Air Force, featuring both modern and historic aircraft.

Veterans Day 2018 in The Hague - soldiers

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Zuurkool (Or: A typical winter meal)

About once a year Marco and I ask his mom to bring over zuurkool, which is similar to the German sauerkraut. We can add this to the list of things I would have hated as a kid!

First, start with smoked sausage from Hema:

Smoked sausage from Hema\

Cook that in water for 15-20 minutes.

Then add the zuurkool, which literally translates to ‘sour cabbage’. In this case the zuurkool is combined with potatoes and smashed until there is nothing left to smash. Sounds delicious, right?

Dutch zuurkool (or sauerkraut)

Then add gravy. Bonus points if you can show off your Dutch heritage by successfully building a dam so that the gravy doesn’t leak out.

it’s hard to describe the taste… sour. Slightly off. But exactly what I want, once a year on a cold winter’s day.

Categories: Culture, Food | 4 Comments

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