Sunday, May 06, 2007

Market Day

Well I've completed one week of work and one weekend day and my belongings (minus some US Postal Service boxes) are here... and I may ALMOST have an apartment! Time flies in the Netherlands!

Yesterday - woke up latish (without Simon to remind me that the sun has risen, my rising hour has gotten alter and later) and joined Corinne and Remco out in the garden for breakfast. Thanks to global warming, Amsterdam has been having one of the warmest and driest springs ever! My morning breakfast is now compose of a roll, some sort of ham or cold cut, some cheese, and some coffee. We decided to go shopping - and headed out to the Albert Cuypstraat market. It's a street market on Saturdays that's filled with everything - from cheap underwear to lychee fruit!

The first thing we did is stop to by frites - french fries to those of you not in the know!. In Holland - you get your frites in a little paper cone and you choose what kind of fritesauce you want on them - peanut? curry? ketchup? mayonaise? Then you eat them with a little plastic fork. DELICIOUS! And very remincent of my childhood in Belgium! Remco and his mother (who was visiting) got a Croketten - basically fried meat paste inside a crispy shell! As I'm trying to avoid the label "Fat American", I decided to skip the Croketten.

We stopped to admire the flowers - 50 tulips for 5 euros - and in all the colors of the rainbow. Also, gorgeous peonies, hydrangeas, fuschias, birds of paradise, and others. The Dutch sure love their 'bloemen' and so do I. I don't care if my apartment is a hellhole, I'm going to fill it with fresh flowers. I may not have furniture or any belongings, but I'll have fresh flowers and my iPod. I could do worse.

Then we went to buy vegetables for the week. What a great selection. I missed the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market for about 30 seconds - and then I saw the tomatos, herbs, eggplants, lettuces, wild ginger, lemon grass, passion fruit, and everything else they had to offer - at a fraction of the cost! Heaven! This will definately become one of my weekend rituals. There are also cheese stands, sausage stands, fish stands, meat stands, and, of course, Herring stands!

Roaming around eating my frites, I felt more like I was at a carnival where hawkers sold polka-dotted underwear than at the relentlessly aggressive Dupont Circle's market. Ah - Dupont Circle Sundays- where perfectly toned gay men with their strollers with perfectly selected baby and dog team ram through hyper aggressive DC elites who are elbowing each other out of the way to get at the perfect tomato or the perfect $40 stem of pussy willows. Everyone with their designer dog and $800 stroller. I rarely left the market without having spent $40 and usually only had enough for one meal. We spent 20 euros at the produce stand and came home with eggplant, zucchini, lettuce, cabbage, fresh thyme, onions, garlic, mushrooms, tomatos, apples, fresh squeezed orange juice, and some fresh bread!

After a dizzying afternoon at Schiphol airport driving around the various cargo holds and customs offices, I finally received my belongings that I shipped. The boxes that seemed so large and dominating in my living room - that threatened to send me into a tequila induced coma if they were NOT TAKEN AWAY, IMMEDIATELY! are now sitting in a tiny corner of my alloted room in Corinne's house. So small - is that really all I own now?

We then retired to the garden to prepare Tuscan style grilled lamb chops with a panzanella salad. DELICIOUS.

Unfortunately, almost everyone I know in Amsterdam is fighting a cold or pneumonia - Corinne has a cold, my boss, Marc has a cold, and my frined Carolyn has pneumonia. And I feel tired and weak - perhaps from finally having a job and working four whole days last week? I ended up not going to the three social events I had been invited to and instead - watching south park (with Dutch subtitles) and going to bed early.

But - I dont' feel bad about it. I'm living here now - I remind myself - its not vacation! But somehow, it still feels like it is....

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