Ovaltine, I mean. Don’t forget to drink your Ovaltine is a line from A Christmas Story (1983), a film which was popularized by the the American TV channel TNT’s 24 hour marathons every Christmas Day. It was definitely always on tv every year at my house growing up.
Spotted at the local Asian store, and the inspiration for this blog post:
Speaking of A Christmas Story, there is a sequel coming out on HBO Max next month: A Christmas Story Christmas (tvline.com). Ralphie, the main character in the first movie, returns to his childhood home to give his kids a Christmas like he had growing up. We will need to wait and see how the film fares. Usually sequels like this don’t do well in the box office (Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure, anyone?) but one can hope.
The last independent PostNL (national postal service) location closed in October, here in The Hague. Nowadays PostNL locations are kiosks within larger stores, usually managed by that store’s employees. After a while Amazing Oriental moved in. Amazing Oriental is a national Asian grocery store with a handful of locations in The Hague and surrounding area. They have a lot of great stuff – we’re usually there at least once a week. Marco is like a kid in a candy store in that shop…
Yesterday we visited the old PostNL location, across from the Grote Kerk (“Big Church”). While I was waiting for Marco to finish his shopping inside I snapped this photo:
As usual, lots of bikes. Also an orange post drop off box on the left. Even if PostNL doesn’t have a location here anymore, it is still a drop off point for mail. Although even those are disappearing or getting consolidated these days.
Fun fact: there used to be a 48 meter lang painting by Escher (Metamorphosis III) hanging in the PostNL location from 1969 until 2018, when it was moved to Schiphol airport. See also Escher in Het Paleis, the official Escher museum (website in English). The page also includes a film about moving the artwork to the airport.
Yesterday while waiting for Marco I spotted a new addition to the grocery store scene: another Amazing Oriental location would be popping up in The Hague. This one was going to take over the space left vacant by PostNL:
Amazing Oriental is an Asian supermarket with over 20 locations in The Netherlands. At this point I can’t imagine doing without it. For instance, tonight we had wokgroente (vegetables in the wok) and the sauce we chose was ponzu sauce. It is a thin citrus-based Japanese sauce with a tart aftertaste. In this varation we added a bit of lime juice, sesame oil and soy sauce to spice things up a bit more. Yummmm.
The interesting thing about PostNL (the Dutch postal service) is that this location was literally the last remaining post office in the Netherlands (article from ad.nl in Dutch). It closed in November 2018. Unfortunately these days all PostNL locations are mini locations found in other, existing stores. It does make it easier to pick up packages, though. Speaking of which, I do have to go pick up a package tomorrow…
The inspiration for this blog post: last month I mentioned a news article from The Guardian about a durian fruit causing the evacuation of a German post office. Apparently it is a very divisive fruit. You know how I know that? I wanted to check my spelling of “divisive” so I typed in “divisive fruit” into Google, and durian was the top result. Hmm.
Are you in the camp that thinks it tastes like rotten eggs or gym socks? Or do you find it tastes of almonds, a bit creamy? (If you have ever had it, that is. Apparently it can be hard to find if you’re not in Asia.)
I didn’t realize it might be at the local Asian store until I saw sweets on the shelves:
That doesn’t look too bad, does it? Or these cakes:
But the fruit itself is indeed available at the local Asian store, as long as you are willing to try the deep freeze version. (I know, deep freeze is never as good as fresh.) Amusingly the page only describes it as having a “pungent odor”, which sounds… more bearable than it probably is in reality. Or you have another version which might be easy to break open.
I’m not sure I’m up for buying the deep freeze versions to start with, but maybe I can purchase a snack or two first and see how it goes…
Here is a quick photo taken outside of the local Asian store, Amazing Oriental. Sometimes it is busy enough that you just gotta social distance yourself. There are small bits of caution tape along the wall letting you know where to stand.
Kudos to the store for keeping a manageable amount of people inside at the one time – you’re only able to enter when the worker brings back a free shopping cart. It was also a relatively fast moving line as the average wait was only two or three minutes.
Marco and I recently had coffee at Hema, splitting a slice of apple pie. On the way out, we noticed some of Hema‘s famous sausage:
Except that this was in the candy aisle. The sausage was made of marzipan! (Marzipan is apparently rather popular over here, but not so much in America).
I also noticed some chocolate bars which say “You are sweet” and “Thank you”. The problem with this is I have some good memories of the chocolate bar when it used to be in Dutch (“Ik vind je lief“) so it is a bit odd to see it in English. For example, the first time Marco gave me one when I still lived in America…
And finally, a what the heck? kind of image. Check out this Kit Kat flavor Marco and I saw at the Asian store:
That’s right – if you look at the pricing card underneath you will see it is sweet potato flavor… All right-y then.
On Thursday night Marco and I went to the Asian store. It’s near the Pathe movie theater in the centrum – underneath it, in fact. It is a larger store, usually crowded on the weekends but not as much on Thursday nights. As I’ve said before, The Hague has “koopavond” on Thursday nights, which means a lot (though not all) stores stay open until 9pm.
Rice and soups
More one serving soups. I usually raid this section as one of the brands is “6 halen 5 betalen”, or “Get 6, pay for 5”.
And why were we in the Asian store? Because on Saturday we wanted to make sushi of course! Which we did, with Roger. Sushi with salmon, cucumber, tuna and even chicken. And a soy sauce dip, with a bit of wasabi paste to mix in. We’re still working on perfecting it – but it was pretty good. We also shared a bottle of sake between the three of us.
Note in the middle the McCormick logo (which started in Baltimore, Maryland, US). It is interesting to see how international the brand has become.
We also had some wasabi sauce (in addition to the paste mentioned above). Man oh man was that an unexpected experience. It had a kick! A little spicy for a few seconds, and then you inevitably breathe in and it rushes up your nose and into your brain. I suppose it’s good for cleaning out the sinuses…