Remembering Jenny & Popo


That passion for food, those kitchen skills and hospitality. But above all, those smiles… Jenny & Popo are dearly missed by many people, myself included.
I won’t write much here, for I’d like to remember them through food instead of words. So tonight, I made this wonderful dish, which they taught me during a cooking workshop for the book Zuid Kookt!, back in 2008. I will post a picture of the dish soon.
My thoughts are with their family and close ones.

(Recipe below)…

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Agretti: Seasonal Treats (Spaghetti con agretti e gamberi)


agrettiAppeared earlier in Romeing.

One of the most exciting things of life in Rome for me is the neat distinction between produce seasons. That eagerly anticipated day when, finally, the Roman artichoke makes its arrival, or the leafy greens that disappear at your greengrocer’s overnight.

My heart jumps when I see agretti at the market early spring. They are also called Barba di Frate (monk’s beard), because supposedly it was the Capuchin friars who started cultivating them. And they had green beards. Or so the vegetable legend goes.

Agretti are salty-tasting, grassy greens that grow only in coastal areas. In Italy, they are cultivated mostly in Tuscany and Lazio.…

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Ready for the nuthouse (Olive Ascolane)


Frying Olive AscolaneAppeared earlier in Romeing.

Sewing your own clothes. Canning your own vegetables. Building your own furniture. All activities in the ‘why-on-earth-would-you’ realm. A lot of blood, sweat and tears just to proudly call something homemade. But really, is homemade always so much better than store-bought? One glance at that sweater your aunt gave you for Christmas and you know the answer.

So please be forewarned when you decide to make olive ascolane. After an entire afternoon spent on making these stuffed and deep-fried olives, I was ready for the nuthouse. Granted, the result was magical. But how could it not have been?…

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Pranzo di Natale (Cappelletti in brodo)


This article appeared earlier in Romeing

A few Christmases ago, I was invited to a pranzo di Natale. The event of the year for many Italian families, it was an honor to join this typical Christmas lunch. Picture three generations of a large extended family gathered at the table (plus me), getting increasingly louder and more cheerful, and slowly eating themselves in a food coma. Boy, I imagined I was going to eat a lot, but the grand total of food served (and eaten!) was truly astonishing. Italians invariably complain that the amount of food at celebrations is too much, yet without heaps and heaps of food a party just isn’t a party.…

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In Dutch Herring Heaven (Herring Tartar)


A version of this blog post appeared earlier on the blog Novel Adventurers.

It’s definitely an expat thing. That specific craving for a motherland food that hits you at the most random times. On home visits, the first thing you do once you get off the plane is to immediately gorge on that long-missed item. I have American friends who O.D. on hamburgers back in the States, Mexican friends who put away as much fresh guacamole as they can hold and French friends who have buttery croissants for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For me that food is herring. A silvery, oily delight that just doesn’t travel at all.…

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peanut butter balls

What marathon training taught me (oatmeal-peanut butter balls)


‘If I don’t run, I don’t feel like me.’

‘Without my daily runs, I get anxious and jittery.’

‘Running keeps me sane.’


If you’ve ever spent time with those annoying running addicts, you’ve probably heard it all. Confession: I’m one of them. And all of the above applies to me, too.

Aside from the obvious physical benefits (and occasional discomfort), running offers me even more mental advantages. A good run disentangles thoughts and calms down. Something I’d get worked up about suddenly seems trivial after a good jog.

I’ve been running for the past 10+ years, but I don’t know what got into me lately.…

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