Delightful Ning Back In Farangland 4 – Minister of Food
I remember when she saw her first cappuccino on her first visit to Europe. She looked like I asked her to drink toilet water. Two weeks later, she prepared better cappus than me! (And slurped them.)
And on this, her second visit to Old Europe, she continues to make the most of what the area has to offer. When she bewss espresso, she inhales the caffeine clouds over the machine with a delirious smile. Then she pours more of that relatively bitter espresso coffee into her cappu cup than I like for myself. She also does an ice-cream coffee that puts every local café to shame.
My girl goes Euro!
— MINISTER OF FOOD —
Soon she is the kitchen boss again, with her own, generous budget. She makes sure that all things are always in the house, including those only I eat, like muesli and spaghetti. Yes, occasionally she prepares different meals for her and me, so that we both won't miss our favourites. She also cancels the weekly food deliveries I used to get in my bachelor days: She wants to personally hand-pick every carrot and aubergine on the market.
At first she has a tendency to buy only few things at a time, but to go shopping about daily – and to ask me for car rides. I make it clear to her that one motorized shopping trip per week is enough for me – and with a bit of planning, it’s sufficient. What’s more, there are enough places she can easily reach by bicycle any time, including the important Asia store.
— STRAWBERRY DELICACY —
This morning, we stroll the local market – one of the more pleasant job aspects for the driver of a Minister of Food.
"Oh my dear", she sighs and drags me to another market stall: "Look, they have such good strawberries here!"
"Ok, buy some", I suggest.
At the stall, she quickly has chosen the basket with the youngest, surely most unripe and sour strawberries. Before I can intervene, she has paid and is off.
"What was that", I ask? "You deliberately chose the worst strawberries on the whole stall!"
"No, WHY!? The young, sour ones – they taste so good with chilli salt!"
— UNROMANTIC WOODFIRE STOVE —
She eyes the woodfire stove in the living room. She has never seen something like that, of course. This time of year a stove is not necessary. But on one half-chilly evening, after a walk in the rain, we start the woodfire.
Romantically she looks into the flames and seems to forget everything.
"What do you think, dear", I ask?
"Do you like to watch the fire", I ask?
"You know", I confess, and I even get a deeper voice, "I like to watch the fire very much. Somehow I can forget the whole world when watching the flames."
Ning gives me a puzzled look: "No…", she says: "No – I just think, could we grill potatoes in that fire? You know, grilled potatoes from the fire would be delicious!"
— NUTRITION SCIENCE —
Ning: "My dear, what do you want for dinner tonight – noodles or food?"
I: "Huh, noodles and food are different things?"
"Yes! Noodles are noodles, and not food!"
"Ok, I know noodles, but what is food then?"
"Food? Of course, food is everything we eat with rice."
"Ah, and what is rice then? Food or not?"
"Of course, rice is not food. Rice is what you eat with food."
— HAUTE CUISINE —
On her first visit she invented tiny pesto sandwiches to cheer up my lonely office hours. This time she sleeps another unheard-of delicacy into my office solitude: Croissants stuffed with, of course, peach ice-cream.
Later that day we go for a walk. And as a midway-snack we bring, you guessed it, croissants stuffed with banana.
— EURASIAN BREAKFAST —
Ning completely gives up on noodles for breakfast. Now she eats self-composed ciabatta-based veggie-burgers in the morning, a habit I happily join in.
For this breakfast, I suggest I fix her a panino the way we both like it, while she prepares tea and fruit. I ask her how big her piece of ciabatta should be. Then I cut exactly the toppings she orders: I put on a thin layer of cheese, a few basil leaves, a thin layer of tomatoes, thin slices of cucumbers and a sprinkling of about 1.35 drops of fresh lemon juice. (She doesn't like a drop of olive oil.)
Ready to eat! Ning sits down and looks at her panino. Then she looks more for a moment. Then she gets up and brings the glass with her home-made imported chilli-garlic-sauce and sits down again.
Now, Ning removes tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and cheese from the panino I just prepared for her. She spreads the homemade imported chilli-garlic-sauce on the bread. After which cheese, basil, cucumbers and tomatoes wander back onto the bread.
"Ehm… why didn't you tell me you need chilli-garlic-sauce on your panino?"
"No – – I mean, first I thought this piece of ciabatta is small. When I saw it with cheese, basil, cucumbers and tomatoes on top, it was too big already. So I put some strong chilli-garlic-sauce, so I can finish it."
My girl goes Euro – and back.
Getting an Asian girl to enjoy Western food is always a challenge. My experience is to take them to decent places and they get so over-awed by the environment that they almost forget they are not eating Thai.