I have rediscovered a craving for good food – real food, not the kind that has never seen the sun nor felt the rain. Amsterdam has a lovely eco market at the foot of the Noorderkerk, nestled amid old canals and narrow streets with old-fashioned cobblestones. It attracts the usual eco nuts, people so obsessed with eco that it has leached the joy from them, but there are also many people who simply love food and believe the best food is not just cooked but also grown, harvested and made with love.
It is a perfect Saturday morning passtime… A bottle of sweet olive oil that, when you close your eyes and breathe in deeply, still smells of the hills and trees it came from, a few onions in soft, papery skins and a perfect bulb of fragrant garlic. A beautiful bright orange pumpkin that makes you think of the sun. A generous helping of coriander and Italian herbs, some freshly ground salt and pepper. A couple of earthy potatoes and, if you like, a few sweet carrots, still covered in little chunks of the soil that nourished them.
I like to softly sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil before adding the pumpkin, potatoes and carrots, cut into hefty chunks. After letting the edges of the pumpkin soften in the oil, I add a generous measure of water and let everything cook on a low fire until tender. Blend and you’re done!
One night, when my children were in bed and my boyfriend was away for the evening, I felt like really, truly savouring my food for the first time in a long, long time. So I unwrapped a beautiful ball of soft goat’s cheese rolled in herbs and a cup of olives from the same olive grove that produces my favourite olive oil, added a few chunks of yeasty, chewey French bread (remind me to tell you where to buy the best bread in Amsterdam), a bottle of eco cider, all the bountiful harvest from my morning’s market ramble, and sat down to savour, in my opinion, some of the best things mother nature has to offer.
I could not resist taking a picture to remember the moment. Since I could not find my camera, I used my iPhone – not the best of pictures usually. However, as has happened before, the imperfectness of the picture adds a lovely vintage feel to match the mood of the moment…