A while back now I had the opportunity to spend a week visiting a friend from college who was spending his summer volunteering at a Christian youth hostel in the red light district of Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was an amazing experience in many ways. For one, a boat ride on the river brings one back hundreds of years to this thriving port town. The narrow rows of houses and architecture are really beautiful. Next, I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden a bike throughout the city, but it was probably one of the most adventurist things I’ve ever done. There are buses, and trolley/trains, and cars and other cyclists, etc. all moving quickly. Yes, there are bike paths -but everything criss-crosses, intersects and overlaps, and you are armed with only a ringing bell on your handlebars. In fact, nothing I say can capture the essence of how CRAZY it is. Insane. Another highlight was the morning we spent ministering to the homeless and strung-out people on the streets. Mind you, this is the red light district, and by morning, I mean around 2-5 AM, and by ministering I mean inviting people to a soup kitchen that would open in a few hours to serve them peanut butter sandwiches and hot soup. If you’ve never done that sort of thing, I highly recommend it- but not alone. Lastly, I would like to share with you the strides the Dutch have made in street food. Sure you have had ketchup with your fries; Perhaps at a fair you’ve doused them with vinegar & salt; If you’ve been to France or maybe a so-themed restaurant you have dipped your frites in a little Dijon style mustard? But in Holland, my friend, they dip those salty spud sticks (are you ready for this?) in mayonnaise! Soooo good! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, because the Dutch know delicious. And for further proof I give you the stroopwafel. Um, wow! Have you tried a stroopwafel? It’s like a thin round waffle sandwich cookie, with a caramel syrup filling. Oh, and when they are warm and fresh they are incredible! But not to worry because if you want to eat them all day long (which you wouldn’t because you are full of restraint, but some people- not to point fingers, at that girl in the mirror…) You can just place the cup-sized version right on the rim of your fresh hot coffee or tea and let them warm through and come to caramel-ly life.
That concludes my “ode” to Amsterdam. However, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my good friends Tara and Molly for buying me a Belgian Cookie Iron so that I can finally have thin enough plates to achieve my stroopwafel making goals! Thank you!