Persephone Abbott, musician and author, settled in the Netherlands. She lived in Utrecht, Rotterdam, and Gouda, a picturesque city in South Holland, inspiring her to write an English language guide book to her neighbourhood but with a difference, it leads someplace. This blog (started in 2007) is a tidy compilation of events and issues that she experiences in her life as an integrated artist in Dutch society in Amsterdam. Postings only once a week, mainly on Fridays.
Many of us know that when traveling abroad, a trip to a
fine arts museum is an elegant way to pay homage to a world class
location.In return, offering a peacock’s
display of recognizable quality is the quintessential whiff of museum musk needed
to stimulate tourists to sniff out the art.
Of course, the other side to admiring a city is to simply
slowly walk along the streets. Then, in fact, a visitor is meshed among the
city’s highlights and spatially places themselves within the geographical
context.However, by merging history in
the form of an historical building and world class art an opportunity arises
that should not be considered lightly.
Amsterdam’s Hermitage Museum showcases traveling
exhibitions, as well as an incredible room with a view of the Amstel River featuring
a row of splendid canal houses on the other side, occasionally interrupted by a
passing barge. You may sit in that space in a chair holding the view for a fair
amount of time. I find such outings most inspirational. Here follows a trail of
visions of the current Gauguin, Bonnard, and Denis exhibition.
Standing Nude in Modernity
In this salon the colours unimaginable,
We are led to look at it in sterility
The lack of moulding, curls and corkscrews
Tear the shadows from the stars
No rounded lamps with frosted glass
No moon to dazzle our eyes.
They so unveiled do tell of cypresses
Green, it is true, in the museum
Everything is but half, the air conditioning
Turned up to frigidity, the bronze cold to touch
The beauty iced, am I to believe here is the wealth
Of Greek Pans?
We’ll no longer go to the Bonnard in winter
Wet spring approached and said soggy things
Then left, and I know the summer will shine
Beyond my wildest hopes without you on the other side
Swinging slowly back and forth under the savage cherry
The Frosted Glass Door
The frosted glass door
Does not equal the Gauguin.
It would be futile to think so.
The doors are not an aesthetic reference
To any object a messy painter’s studio has construed
In the fine reflection of the golden blob on the toile
I sit on mustard upholstery and think about
How tasteful my ass must be to rest here.
Rebuke, rebuke Paris the city before me,
The horse shit on the unpaved street,
The chestnut roasting soot insinuated,
The grimy cloth flowers on fancy hats
Positioned like already eaten pastries,
The remnants in reconstructed oils before me
And my ass sits primly still
On mustard watching the
Donkey pull the cart across Paris.
The Blood that Comes Out No Vein
Bordering on kitsch one train rolls through the gallery
A recording, a loop of heavy sounding wheels
In the prelude, representing landscapes, one heard
-- it was a relief from the Debussy track--
Labelled with proletariat orange plastic tags the gold
Prick-screwed endure this venom cast into the wood’s
- sliced and aching veins --
(Premenstrual paragraphs loom heavy as apple full
Extended hip bones anticipating the fall, behind Venus’
Enhanced night for visitors, the train set circling
around all those lost
Creative eggs a squall equalling the dumping of humanity,
A revolutionary honour, senseless culture renamed for
Did they serve the old toothless folks
Those soft and puffy buns on occasion
With that droopy slab of fatty young cheese
Glistening in the aluminium tea canister’s reflection?
The museum is the museum of Dutch imprisonment,
A collection to demonstrate the taking of a city
A place beholden to old lusts, deserted and blood bound
me, the cute little cabbages I’ve seen in cozy pots and prone on window ledges
are actually kale. I admit I am really a poor judge at identifying plants when they have
not been cooked and dissected on dinner plates, however I have always been attracted to the
fanciful French can-can look of the cabbages in flowerpots. Knowing now that they are kale, I may
appreciate them further because kale is trendy and I can feel thus redeemed
upon my continuing visual admiration of kale.
All this week
people kept coming up to me to tell of their successful “I cooked kale and
ate it” stories. Utterly brilliant, of course. So look, I even found pictures
of lovely blooming kale on the internet. Much like when trying to eat kale, the
best bet of getting a lovely purple kale to settle in your garden bed (or
stomach), is to plant it not too long before winter.The purple colour only comes out after a
frost has occurred.The frost also
dampens the bitter flavor of kale.“Ornamental cabbages and kale can last throughout the winter, but their
appearance depends a lot on the weather. Too hot and they will bolt, too wet
and harsh and they’ll look tattered.” (info lifted from About.com)
Bolting cabbages? I learn something new
every day. Not only am I a poor judge of species but I am obviously an inept
gardener. Even zucchinis refused to grow for me, and I would go out and talk to
them, encouraging them to flourish, but to no avail. I wonder now if they,
disappointed by my conversational topics, bolted during the night. Tattered is
something I easily achieved in the garden with the aid of a million snails.
It must be noted that Keukenhof does not
feature cabbages in their flowerbeds. Pity. Too out of season for the tourist
season. Cabbage Dolls, they were once trendy too, but they were somewhat
insipid looking. Remember them? They’re vintage now and demonstrating over
flowing abundance on eBay. Why there’s even a place in Cleveland decorated with
Cabbage Dolls. Where was I? Kale.Trendy stuff for home deco. Right. Take it
out of your refrigerator and admire it. Maybe it’s a whopper. The Biggest Kale for
the year of 1995 was one of 28.75 lbs grown by Mr. John Evans, who enjoys producing
giant legumes. It must have been quite a display. But, here’s a thought – can
you wear kale? I’m not talking about how I wear kale, as it’s immediately
rejected by my taste reflexes, but as an attractive manner of personal decoration.What about frou-frou kale headbands or
corsages for weddings? Yes, indeed lots of bridal bouquets featuring kale are
happily available for order, and they look lovely; lacy, frilly and tacit. So
learned in the journalism business that to get an article to make waves you’ve
got to latch onto a trendy word, like kale. There’s a very popular subject!
Everyone has something to say about kale, such as an opinion as to whether it
is in fact edible. I’ve read that the first frost eliminates the bitterness
from the substance, but perhaps that’s not going to help you with your kale hang up when it comes to the industrial
greenhouse variety in the universe of your run of the mill utopian head of kale. This information may also not substantially vary your level of
kale tolerance because kale is such a hot topic that people put signs, much like for political candidates, on their windows or stuck in their mowed lawns in support of their beliefs in the redeeming or obnoxious qualities to be found in the latest newly promoted vegetable on public parade.
what I would call a well-rounded vegetable connoisseur from California (I'm not talking politics now), I first
encountered kale here in the Netherlands back in the 1990s. The green leafy
plant is called “boerenkool” in Dutch and is primarily used in a winter dish called
“stampot.”“Stampot” doesn’t actually
have be a winter item but as it’s loaded with potatoes and perhaps bits of bacon, and maniacally
pureed, it makes for an easily shovelled in and rib-sticking meal on cold
nights. Plus the main ingredient is spuds.
An old time vegetable,
kale was apparently much eaten into the Middle Ages before the introduction of
the potato to Europe. Maybe the Dutch just couldn’t relinquish their hold on
the cabbage variety and seasoned their new-fangled spud puree with it (“aux
herbes”) once the earthly new-apple took the country and blood sugar rates by storm. But by now, you’ve
all heard the retro news rocketing around the world: suddenly kale has become
hip like a presidential candidate. (Personally I keep wondering when Swiss chard will make a comeback.)
though, doesn’t ruffle any feathers over here: the Dutch have always loved
their kale in their national dish. I, however, have completely failed to see
the pleasure of ingesting “boerenkool stampot” even when damp from the rain and
chill or rosy cheeked from a hectic bicycle ride in a hail storm. Friends from abroad
caught up in the recent food trend in America have proclaimed their love of kale
salads, where kale is emperor, and used as a main ingredient in juice tonics.
It’s healthy and to be recommended, toting loads of vitamins – K, C, A and
calcium for example. Then there’s the down side, it’s moved the Brussels sprout
into the shadows, and it’s been rumoured to cause thyroid problems in people with
an addiction to kale. Addiction to kale? That must be nonsense, you’d think but
then maybe you are reaching for a chocolate-n-kale flavoured chip, a novelty
old and new world combo confection.
Why not join
the two items in a jaunt? I’m talking about winter and kale. In Northern
Germany you may participate in a “kohlfahrt” and walk around fields in
midwinter to admire kale, and other cabbage varieties, and then when thus having feasted on
the visual, head to the pubs, cafés, and restaurants for beer and kale.
Actually I am having you on, “kohlfahrt” is basically a day to walk outside and
play silly games and drink alcohol served from trolleys wheeled around behind
you which may not be a bad way to spend an hour or two out doors on a brisk and
staggered, and/or staggering winter walk (this last sentence depends on your level of passivity).
forget that kale is hearty, and often difficult to digest, thus a superlative
detox agent. Combine it (I garnered this information though an enthusiastic video
with a lot of long hair waving about) with quinoa and rooibos tea and you’re on
to something…um…like gut draino. Next week – part two: Decorating with Kale.