Sunday, September 22, 2013

Postcards from Holland: Village Life in Duiven

Holland is largely an agricultural country.  Driving away from the capital city of Amsterdam, you'll immediately find yourself driving through pastures with cows, sheep, and horses.  The landscape is dotted with windmills, corn fields, and lush farms.  My heart really does cartwheels here.  

We would spend a couple of days in northeastern Holland in a small village called Duiven.  Here, life is slower.  My kind of slow.  It's the kind of place where to buy fresh vegetables and fruits, you could still go to a farm stand of the same farm that grew what you're buying.  Yep.  No middle men, no hypermarkets.  Food doesn't travel thousands of miles.  One just needs to hop on a bicycle (we drove) to get access to in-season produce.  

We happened to be in Duiven the weekend it was celebrating its 200th anniversary.  To celebrate, the village square was filled with artisans and artists selling local wares, crafts, and food.  There was music and sunshine.  Residents flocked to the main square to greet their neighbors and nosy around the stalls.  It was super gezellig!  

This friendly lady is spinning sheep's wool into yarn that she knit into gloves and socks.  It takes her about three weeks to spin the yarn and to knit a pair of gloves.  She sold a pair to me for 10 euro.  Wow.  I think they will be the best pair of gloves I'll ever own, especially since I know how much this awesome lady poured love and passion into making them.  How often do you get an experience like that?

And traditional Dutch food is all here.  It's the kind the locals actually eat, as opposed to touristified.

These are bite-size, puffy pancakes called poffertjes, pronounced "puh-fe-jus".  It's one of my favorite Dutch words.  (Yes, I have a handful of favorite Dutch words, thank you.)  Poffertjes are a bit hollow and moist on the inside.  When served hot with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar, it's a delightful snack!

Delicious, homemade sausages of different sorts and homemade jam.  We were able to take some home to America, of course!

And fresh herring eaten raw either with chopped onions or sandwiched in a bread roll. This is my first time eating herring and if you must know, a lot of the Dutch people I came across cringe at thought of eating raw fish fillets.

And of course, bicycles are a craze nationwide, not just in Amsterdam.

When I say that I admire the European lifestyle, this is in part what I meant - living in a community without the complications and greed of a capitalist society.  Yes, life is less gaudy in these parts, the two-car garages, 3,000 square foot homes and enormous yards of America are absent, but the quality of living and the happiness quotient seems higher.  People are not obsessed with their iPhones.  They ride bicycles.  Clean energy is not a debate.  And the food is fresh and clean.

I cannot help but think, especially in the midst of a federal government shut-down and squabbling politicians in America, that the Dutch, teeny as their country might be, got something right.

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