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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: change


Vegas on the North Sea?

At present I am working in Great Yarmouth…
Yes I know, not just Yarmouth, but GREAT Yarmouth.

Most people in the UK roll their eyes when they hear of this town>
Also known as Las Vegas on the North sea.

Rather sad really, Las Vegas without the sunshine, the sea without the fresh breeze.
Over the last months working with the the old buildings in this town I have learnt never to judge a village center by first glance. There are some amazing Edwardian Hotels waiting to rise like a phoenix, old rides that are still cool. And actually the whole place has been maintained by neglect.

Neglected by lack of investment from the government…


Glory days… But the winter gardens is one of the biggest challenges ahead. Would be amazing!

The whole town was built on the money made from silver darlings, herrings. And they still sell the very best kippers you have ever had!
But sadly when they made the big investments in their new concrete harbour they forgot to invest in the access on the land side…
So now, with the upcoming elections, politicians have promised to improve the main road there…

What do you think? Will more people come? Will more people leave?

Time will tell. At least we have a super enthusiastic team of conservation officers in place and a supportive Borough Council… With all the sad and terrible things happening in the world, rebuilding and treasuring what we have must be on the political agenda! Fingers crossed for the elections!


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One of the advantages of having a vagabond lifestyle is that you continuously encounter new things.
Living between two countries means you can no longer hold on to habits or doing things in a set way. I find I now always adjust my routine to wherever I am.
This state of flux has now been for more than a year, so I have made the art adaptation my standard way of life.

'from the middle of the tube...'

While traveling around I continuously run out of things, but there is one habit I fear I will never be able to change: forgetting my toothpaste.

However this does supply me with a great new hobby of stealing (‘borrowing’ doesn’t quite cover it) and trying out new toothpastes.

Last month I have however met the mother of all pastes… Euthymol.

Any toothpaste with a name like that has to be something special. It doesn’t even have the words ‘clean’, ‘white, ‘fresh’ or ‘protection’ anywhere on it. The packaging only reads: Euthymol Original Toothpaste, a scientific dental preparation. If it wasn’t for the word ‘Dental’ it could be for anything really…

Naturally attracted to certain differences?!

It comes in an old fashioned tube and red top and is bright bubblegum pink, which reminds me of the children’s toothpaste they used to make in the 80’s and we were only allowed to use when staying with our grandparents… Still the flavour is something else.
Not the usual tepid and lame minty freshness, but a combination the kick in Rootbeer and Listerine on steroids.
As the add says a true ‘wide awake flavour’… Nothing like a good kick in the teeth at the end of the day and in the morning waking up… (oh and it also really cleans your teeth)

I wish I could make this my standard paste, but I am sure I will just forget it again…

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Are you attuned?

One of the things I am struggling with back in the Netherlands, is the change of language.

Not as much the fact that there is a difference in the words, or simply the grammar…
No, the greatest difference lies in the way you can express your tone and humour. English is such a rich language. And the way you use words and ‘intonate’ a sentence can mean many things.

Dutch is so much more frugal in its essence. Just an example:
The one Dutch word Stemmen has 3 possible meanings/translations:

  • Tuning, as in tuning an instrument.
  • Voices, the actual sound that comes out of your mouth
  • Voting, the actual democratic process of casting a vote.

How can this be?
May be this is why politics is such a mess in the Netherlands at the moment… Can’t they just be quiet?


It makes me want to invent some new words.
English ones…

With special thanks to Aram for sending me these:

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Sticky business...

Some of you may already have heard. But my plan to move to the States has fallen flat.
I guess in the end the whole immigration business turned out to be too sticky for me!

So what do you do when your plans crash and burn?
You come up with a new cunning plan. (thanks Baldrick!)
For now I moved back to the Netherlands, while I am working on new ways to get back to the UK.
In the meantime I tend the garden, marvel at how strange it is to travel BACK and I bake…

I find it is a most soothing activity and it also shows gratitude to the good friends and hosts that I have been staying at.
Being stuck myself I find I have a lot in common with a Tarte Tartin.
Upside down, while knowing that the biggest trick ahead is to flick yourself around back on your feet.

Last week I was staying in Norfolk, plotting my new resurrection, when my godfather and his neighbour coaxed me into making La Tartin a la Savoie…
I had no idea what this really meant, so like I do with everything else I decided to just go with it and try my best.
The original pointers I got were vague:

Just cook the apples in the caramel for an hour and add the pastry before you put it in the oven…

What kind of recipe is that?
Has anyone ever attempted to make caramel on an AGA, let alone an electric stove? And what about quantities?

May be I didn’t see it straight away, but in hindsight this is a true recipe for adventure.
A trail by fire for any person, a true test for any chef!

So after reading through a trillion recipes I decided to just get on with it. (just ask Delia if you want the full story:
First I prepared the short pastry (no ready made seemed to be available in the village):
125 grams of cold butter, cut in small cubes
250 grams of flour (strangely enough I only had self-raising available, but it worked)
mix these two ingredients up quickly with cold hands, (easy in an old house without central heating)
add a table spoon of cold (double or single in my case) cream and
a little cold water until it comes together into a tidy ball,
Wrap neatly in cling film (I absolutely loathe cling film, aaaaargh) leave it in the fridge for a while (more like 2 hours) and in the meantime pondered how to survive the night without burning anything.

Then I took the hearts out of some Bramley apples and Norfolk Beefings/Boffins! (thanks to Drove orchards)

Norfolk Beefing apples, yum!

Just cut enough for all the quarters to line the pan.

Then I started with the caramel.
The recipe was unclear too:
Melt 200 grams of BUTTER and add an equal volume of sugar?!
So I did. Just poured in lashings of lovely raw cane sugar.
Then I watched how it all started to fizzle and bubble
Then I added the apples. rolled them around a bit.
Poor heartless apples, all hung, drawn and quartered. But leave the peel on! You will be grateful for them later!

Luckily Olivia (the neighbour) had come for moral support, and photography of the experience.
The trick about the apples is to make sure to use nice tarty ones that don’t turn to mush instantly. (and don’t bother about cinnamon or anything else)
I had turned down the heat a bit, so after about 20 minutes the caramel apple mixture slowly started to turn a darker colour. The apples had turned peel side up, looking like shiny little gold and red flashed buoys.

In the meantime we had rolled out the pastry, which with some old fashioned slapstick operation involving Olivia a large plate and many hands, ended up on top of the sizzlingly hot apple caramel.

Hop! into the AGA it went! (Oh yes always use a oven proof pan! or if you are cooking on gas use a French Caquelon! Or one of those fancy Le Creuset numbers! as long as you have a large enough plate to flip it out on…)

Burned beauty...

We left it there for 20 minutes to eat the main course.

And afterwards we took it out…

Flipped it…

and oh dear.

A thin black crust covered our work of wonder!
Burnt… left it in too late.

Olivia and I looked slightly stunned, then my godfather cheered, Perfect! Just the way it should be….

Sunshine in a glass...

And I have to hand it to him.
It is true that it worked.
The sweet of the caramel sets off brilliantly against the tartness of the apples, while the slight charred taste adds to the depth of the buttery and mushy flavour in the apple.

May be it could also have been the bottle of 1990 Chateau Coutet that raised our spirits…

Fearful chefs will always serve an undercooked tart.
But in the end I conclude that he best way out of a sticky situation is to just go and burn, full throttle!

To be continued…

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After giving this blog some thought during my lunch in the park, I came up with a main aim for this blog.

When I left the NL to move to the UK, four years ago, I found that actually I missed completely different things about my motherland that I had imagined.

Some of the famous Dutch traits were a relief to leave behind, while other minor details of Dutch Life started to become much fonder memories that I could ever imagine.

So I decided to make this blog a collection of misses and wishes…

There will be several cathegories of things:

  • I think I will miss… (from UK as well as NL)
  • I am happy to leave behind…  (from UK as well as NL)
  • I look forward to… (in US)
  • I dread… (in US)

After my move I will comment in hindsight…

Was my idea of the States realistic?

We will see…

Dikke zoenen,

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