Marco and I visited Action today. Action (English Wikipedia) is a cheap store, kind of like Dollar General in the US without saying everything is a dollar.
Imagine my surprise (okay, not really) when we saw that Action was selling kruidnoten (English Wikipedia) already. Although I know Roger already saw some at the beginning of this month. Kruidnoten is a hard cookie-like confectionery sold in the time leading up to the Sinterklaas holiday on 5 December. These days it starts appearing in August, and 2021 was no exception.
Roger gave Marco a recipe book for Christmas: Indostok (bol.com, in Dutch). The title combines two words, “indo” and “stok” (stok=stick). The book includes many, many different satay recipes from Vanja van der Leeden.
Satay (or saté in Dutch) was one of the few Dutch meals we made in Chicago for relatives. We brought along spices to make the accompanying peanut sauce (pindasaus) and then cooked and skewered some chicken. We also brought along a small jar of acar (atjar in Dutch – I had to look up how to say it in English, even), which is a vegetable pickle dish.
For me, the sourer the atjar is, the better. Consider this: one of my favorite random side dishes is cucumber with white wine vinegar, a bit of lemon juice and hot sauce. My mouth is puckering just thinking about it…
Marco being Marco, he had to get the perfect photo. And what better way to do that than to use the reindeer and teddy bear he bought from Xenos as the “readers”?
If you look closely you’ll see some chocolate in the lower right. That is dark chocolate marzipan from Albert Heijn, a joke of sorts between Marco, Roger and I. A few years ago Roger “stole” some dark chocolate marzipan we had in our Christmas candy dish, so Marco bought some and wrapped it up as a Christmas gift that year for Roger so he wouldn’t have to “steal” ours. But Roger also bought some and wrapped it up as a gift for Marco, so there was lots of marzipan going around.
This year we each gifted one to another (three packs in total). The tradition lives on…
Take a look at the Christmas lights at the Grote Markt (denhaag.com in English). Grote Markt is usually a popular bar/club hangout with an active nightlife. Things are of course pretty quiet these days, although the restaurants are still open for takeout or delivery.
The church tower in the background is the Grote Kerk (Wikipedia).
I also took a different shot to try and avoid the trucks on the right side. The bonus of the second shot was that it showed off the Haagse Harry statue:
On the second day of Christmas (December 26), Marco and I had a Christmas tree for breakfast:
A Christmas tree made of bread, that is! Marco found it at Albert Heijn, one of the local grocery stores. We ate it with the usual hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) and speculoos paste.
In other news: you can legally turn in fireworks today and tomorrow in The Hague (omroepwest.nl, article in Dutch). Today 207 kilos (457 pounds) was turned in. You can turn in up to 25 kilos of fireworks, even fireworks that are usually in the ‘illegal category’, without being fined.
The reason the city is organizing this is because it is illegal to possess fireworks outside of the few days around the New Year’s Eve holiday (those are also the only days you can legally possess fireworks). This year The Hague said that setting off fireworks would be illegal to keep hospital visits low.
You don’t legally have a reason to have them in your house and you can’t legally set them off, so unless you want to illegally store them for a year, turning them in now is your best option.
A few days ago I wandered into the Haagsche Bluf (denhaag.com, English) to take a quick picture of their Christmas tree. The Haagsche Bluf is a tiny, outdoor high-end shopping area tucked away in The Hague’s city centre:
In other news, Omroep West (a local news site and channel) will be showing a short documentary later today about the New Year’s Eve riots that occurred in the 70s, 80s and 90s here in The Hague. The document will air tonight at 18:00 and will be available later (I assume) on this page.
The Hague was well known for burning Christmas trees, cars, couches, chairs, bikes, you name it. At the height of the mania Christmas trees and other flammable materials were stolen from rival groups, occasionally leading to violent injuries and death. The damage cost the city millions of guldens every year (guldens was the Dutch currency before the euro was adopted). In the end the city started organizing their own parties so that people would come to the ‘official’ parties and cause less damage on their own.
The bonfires which happened on the beaches of Scheveningen and Duindorp were the result of the city attempting to control the riots. This worked out okay until two years ago when the bonfires were out of control and spawned fire tornados (!, video from bbc.com). Last year permits were not given to hold the bonfires again due to lingering safety issues and this year the bonfires were cancelled due to corona measures.
Merry Christmas, everyone! After a few videochats with family we are currently baking a pumpkin pie. The house smells really nice right now, as you might expect…
Here is my first Christmas gift from Marco – a stocking stuffer! Cute little Christmas themed socks, perfect for keeping my feet warm during the day. This has become more important since we started working from home.
And here is a look at the back of the stocks (the glitter part says Merry Christmas):
I wonder if I will start leaving glitter footprints with every step?
Marco and I just finished watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Wikipedia). It is something we do every year, along with A Christmas Story (Wikipedia). You don’t mess with success like that. Luckily Marco was okay with marrying into this ritual. Admittedly, he already had the DVD box set (Vacation, European vacation, Christmas vacation and Vegas vacation).
I love going through the flyers placed into old DVDs like this. Most of the flyers here were about piracy, although there was one flyer listing all of the trailers coming out around the time this DVD set did.
Here are two of the flyers about piracy:
The one on the right talks about how they cried when they saw the poor quality of the bootleg DVD they bought (not really even talking about streaming yet! – just the purchase of a bootleg copy). The one on the left reminds people that bootleg DVDs are usually filmed in the back of the cinema, featuring obscured footage and muffled sound. So yeah, I keep the flyers to be amused year after year.
In other news: if you have some knowledge of Dutch (and are okay with subtitles in The Hague dialect), you should check out this video from two HTM workers sung to the tune of “Oh Oh Den Haag”, talking about how much the workers miss seeing everyone. HTM is The Hague’s public transportation company and as you might expect patronage has dropped drastically this year. As expected, HTM also wishes everyone happy holidays and a happy new year, with good health, love and happiness. Oh, and there is a bit of fake snow…
On my way to the grocery store this morning I took some photos of this year’s Christmas tree in the Passage:
A new detail this year is the plants down the middle, to help remind people to stay on the right side while walking. It will be interesting to see if the plants are still around next year at this time, or if they really were just temporary during the Covid-19 crisis…
And here is a close up look. I found it a bit weird to be walking past stores today. For the most part everything was closed, but it felt more like a Sunday rather than closed for five weeks. Most of the stores had their lights on and there were not many signs in the windows saying they would be closed for a longer period of time.
Strangely enough when I walked past Peek & Cloppenburg (a clothing store), they did seem to be open. However maybe I saw incorrectly. The lights were on, the doors were wide open, and there were a few people going through the sweaters… so who knows.