Sunday, January 25, 2015

Utrecht (I)

We spent the morning passing through a grey frost of foggy pea soup.  We ventured lost through the Oudegracht canal, searching for Surinamese.  After hunger and tire set in, we ventured into Graaf Floris to warm our weary bones.

Steeped in old world charm of velvet, mahogany and burlap, we sat by the fiery hearth sipping hot spiced wine to warm the body and soul.

I had a traditional Dutch beef stew prepared with abbey beer and gingerbread.  The beer-braised beef could be cut with a spoon.  I drizzled the stew on frittes and dabbed it with crusty warm bread.

The Alexandrians sensed, of course,
that these were mere words and theatricals.
But the day was warm and poetical,
the sky a pale azure

Keeping the cold day at bay with hot spiced wine as I read the Greek poetry of Cavafy as the old master spins verse of ghost Greek kings facing the fates.

"a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe," was how E.M. Forester described Cavafy.

Along the canal, we sipped rooibos tea  and kafie verkeerd in a warm cafe, admiring the reflections of the arched bridges.

We ventured back through the city to the old cathedral that once was the center of Utrecht.  We wandered through the cloisters of the old marvel.

We wandered through the funky eclectic little canaled city.  Marianna got earrings of eggshells and of moonstones.

Eventually we found the Surinamese I had been searching for.  While she snapped pictures of the evening lights reflecting in the canal, I popped in to a found Moksi.

"Hello Paul," said the owner.  She recognized me immediately; I recognized the smell of sumptuous curries.

Not only was I remembered, but I was up on the wall.  The article I wrote on Edible Nation Branding for the Netherlands was prominently displayed on the wall.  I beamed.

I chatted with the owner about life and other things.  They had opened up a second shop near the cathedral bell tower.  It was next to a Greek shop, and I had seen it earlier but hadn't realized its provenance.

I planned to come back the next day for lunch.

The evening was spent in the dire attempts to stay warm.  Some warmth was indeed found over frittes slathered in curry ketchup.

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