A Spicy Monday

A repeated instance of small-scale despair has been taking place each time I’ve gone to the grocery store and can’t for the life of me figure out where to find (or what the Dutch name is for) some staple kitchen product. Say, baking soda. Produce and meats are fairly straightforward. Products where I have to read a label are a whole other story. I wind up crouched on the grocery store floor squinting at some item, pocket Dutch-English dictionary in hand, word in question NOT in the little book, hoping some Dutch grandmother will sense my innate desire to bake something, take pity on me, and offer to help me decipher (hasn’t happened yet).

I left my fully-stocked Massachusetts kitchen with its arsenal of spice jars (not to mention my own plants) and its cabinet of cooking liquids, all accumulated over years of culinary exploration…all unable to be shipped overseas. I passed off most of the supplies to another cooking-inclined friend and sent some spices with the movers (it was too much of an investment not to try). Meanwhile, I’m here in a stark bare kitchen with a bottle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.


There’s another American couple we know loosely because they’re finishing up the same track we’re just starting (husband doing a postdoc in the same lab as Tim) and about to head home to a job in North Carolina. So even though we don’t know them well, I feel like we have some bond. They are flying back to the States today and invited us to stop by to adopt some items from their Delft apartment. And I came home with a whole bag of… spices! Things like knoflook and komijnzaad and kruidnagelen and tijm and nootmuskat (garlic and cumin seed and cloves and thyme and nutmeg… it all starts to make sense once you see the translations).

Every day there are little things that are discouraging: Buying what I’m sure is baking soda, only to discover it’s self-rising flour. Getting to the train station just as the train we want pulls away. Everything in the country being closed on Mondays. But then there are these surprises, like a bag full of spices on the most beautiful summer morning.



Filed under Cooking

6 responses to “A Spicy Monday

  1. Lori

    3 cheers for peperzwart and sesamsaad!

  2. Katrina

    And let’s hear it for Viskruiden and Konanderblad!!

    This post is so near and dear to my heart. I know the pain of leaving the perfectly stocked spice cabinet….carefully collected over a few years. And I know the importance of having most of these on hand – some because I use them every day and some ‘just in case’. SOOOOO happy for you that you got this bounty of spices! šŸ™‚

    Hope you find that baking soda soon! The ‘technical’ name for it is Sodium Bicarbonate…that might help.

  3. Katrina

    Or you could just shout at someone “ARM-and HAM-errrr.” šŸ™‚

  4. unquiettime

    Thanks, Katrina, I knew you would appreciate this one. šŸ™‚ Shouting in the grocery store is probably the next step…

  5. Katie

    You want me to just send you some Baking Soda? You can have it for being The Bravest Person I Know.

  6. Linda

    I should get my own blog just to record the thoughts that arise when I read your blog, such as:

    I’m so glad for your weekend sightseeing lay of the land adventures. Yet my favorite of the two posts today is this one because it was exactly what I was thinking about when I sat down at the computer. You see, our Philip is about to go on a 27 month international adventure as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. Just as I was getting down to the depackratting (look it up, Spellcheck – everyone knows what I’m talking about), we are about to become storage central for all of his prized possessions, including a bicycle. Not your style, but wouldn’t it be nice if such things could be teleported a la Harry Potter to those who could use them for a while? I was thinking about the spare room in our daughter’s apartment and wondering what we might store there. Then I started thinking about the cool things she is storing/borrowing for/from you, including all the spices she was so excited to inherit. What goes around comes around – so glad fresh spices have landed in your cupboard! And while I was shuffling around in Philip’s old room looking for space to store the sentimental and humorous, I discovered, under a cache of miscellaneous commemorative t-shirts, two high quality paper napkins from Boston’s Collonade Hotel, site of (you guessed it) his senior prom. šŸ™‚

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