Thursday, May 19, 2011

Memorable Meals: Episode 8, Food for the Student's Soul

People always ask me how I managed to combine a university career with a family. How did I get the energy to travel an hour to Leiden every day, prepare for classes, write papers and still have enough time to be a mom? Well, first of all, it was something I chose. I wanted to know everything about the Netherlands because speaking the language just wasn’t enough. In five years I became what you would call an ‘expert’ on the country. I studied its literature (yes, I did actually read Vondel) and history, and I majored in its art. Of course, it was challenging, but it was also very rewarding and fascinating.
Looking back upon my years at Leiden University, I can honestly say that it was one of the most fulfilling times in my life. The fact that I could juggle the career of a student and parent was not only due to motivation, but also to the support of my husband Hans. On Wednesdays he had the day off, which always meant that I would come home to a clean house smelling of the most delicious cooking aromas. After long seminars and with brains as fried as a basket of chicken nuggets, this was a treat I eagerly looked forward to.
Hans, a great cook, would prepare things like Dutch-style pancakes, Kirstie’s favorite. We always ate the first ones with bacon and after that, we topped our pancakes as we wished. There was always a bag of crisp salad, just for me, because believe it or not, I love my pancake with peanut butter, sweet chilli sauce and a mountain of crunchy greens!
Sometimes Hans would cook vegetarian pasta with a hearty olive sauce, tagliatelle and creamed spinach. It was such comfort food then, and it still is now. His pasta is like my mom’s lentil soup and tuna salad: one of a kind. I can try to recreate these dishes myself, but they will never taste as good as the ones they make.
The ultimate treat was when Hans would make us his specialty dish:  lemon and rosemary chicken wings with roast potatoes. Now I don’t mean to brag, but no one can make chicken like Hans. Those wings are so tasty, so perfectly glazed with those lemony juices and so darn wonderful! I guess the saying is indeed true: it does take a tough man to make a tender chicken! His roast potatoes are crispy on the outside and could probably put Nigella (the roast potato queen) to shame.
Those meals and the love they were made with fed my soul. They fuelled me through piles of books and endless hours in front of the computer. They were memorable meals, it was a memorable time and I was a very spoiled and lucky student.


A Dutch Brit said...

Sounds to me like you've got one in a million!

Gloria said...

Hi Paola. Hola Paola visitando otros blogs te encontré. Que tiempo que no te veía amiga, me encantaban tus recetas, este blog es precioso.
Yo sigo con mi blog Canela Kitchen, un abrazo, gloria

Paola said...

Thanks Vanessa. He's a special guy. :)

Hola Gloria,
Que bueno volver a saber de ti! Espero todo bien y gracias por pasarte por aqui.