About canalrat

I live in Amsterdam, but I'm not Dutch. This blog is about living in the Netherlands. By nature I'm a generalist, so this blog may wander.

Amsterdam’s Brownies – Overheard in Amsterdam #234

In Amsterdam a cafe is where you get coffee, and a coffee shop is where you can get Marijuana – either to smoke or as Hash Brownies. This is a cafe and I’m sipping a very nice cup of coffee when two older tourists come in…

Customer

Do you have any Brownies?

Server

Yes, sure we have chocolate brownies.

Customer

Um… are they the “special” brownies?

Server

Well, they’re gluten-free.

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Saturday Market – a lazy recipe

I went to the market this morning and got excited about garlic. Weird I know. This is a favourite spread I make, if you add a bit more oil and juice of a whole lemon you can make it a dip consistency. I like it in warm pita bread with slices of juicy tomato.

Ingredients

1 400g can butter beans
3 cloves of garlic (or more if you’re brave)
half a cup of chopped parsley
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
salt

Method

Step 1 Rinse and drain the beans

Step 2 Finely chop the garlic, I use some course ground salt to help it mush up, put into blender

Step 3 Chop the parsley, add to blender

Step 3 Add juice of half a lemon to the blender, with the oil and the beans

Step 4 Blend,

Step 5 serve with toasted pita bread.

 

Sunday Market at Westerpark

On a sunny Sunday afternoon one of the nicest things to do is wander through the Sunday Market at Westerpark. It’s full of crafty goodness, here are some of the highlights from today. (Scroll over to reveal captions).

There is a market next Sunday – on Rokin, next one at Westerpark isn’t until 1 October.

Félicité at the World Cinema Festival

Félicité is the story of a singer in Kinshasa whose fragile independence is shattered when her son Samo has an awful motorbike accident. Suddenly she needs 900 dollars, an extreme amount for a woman living in a tough economy, as she fights for her son’s life –  literally. The film is slow, in a way that lets you feel very close to her. There were moments that really hit you, and the director Alain Comis doesn’t let you off the hook, you feel her pain. The third key character is Tabu, a character who drinks and loves hard by night and spends his days as a repair man, it’s his poetry and his humour that provide the gentle breaks in the movie’s tension.

I was lucky to be at the opening of the World Cinema Amsterdam Festival where this was shown, and the Director spoke on stage at the end of the movie. He explained that the story started in Senegal (his home country) but moved to Congo when he heard the music of the Kasai Allstars, with whom Félicité sings throughout the movie. He was asked how he found the actress to play the title role. He said “she found me!” He’d imagined a different look for Félicité but kept coming back to Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu in the audition process. She makes the movie, she has a quiet power even in the harshest scenes.

This isn’t an easy movie, as a viewer you have to do some “work” to grasp the story – it’s not all set out for you. But it’s a film that pulls you in and leaves you somewhat hopeful.

You can see it; Saturday 19th August at the Rialto 6.45pm at the Rialto, or Monday 21st August 7pm at De Balie.

See the website of the World Cinema Amsterdam Festival for more movies, the festival is on to 26 August, so be quick!

Amsterdam’s Newest Art Work

I was playing tour guide on Sunday and we wandered up Rokin, the area between Muntplein and the Dam, this area is being redeveloped and is full of restaurants with terraces where people were eating lunch in the sun. At the top of Rokin, just before you get to the Dam is this wonderful sculpture/fountain.

It features two heads facing in opposite directions and water seeps from the top of the heads down their shoulders, across the plinth and spills onto the ground. It was 24 degrees (75F) so it had a pleasant cooling effect, it might be less fun on subzero winter days!

It’s a stunning work of art and the courtyard around it is a peaceful oasis despite being right on a tram route.

The sculpture is by Mark Manders, a Dutch/Belgian sculptor and it was installed on the 31 July 2017.So brand new.

You can see a short movie about the installation from Gemeente Amsterdam (Amsterdam City Council) sorry it’s only in Dutch but the pictures are cool.

Amsterdam’s Coat of Arms

Amsterdam has an emblem with a bold design, and it’s used in a flag. 
It might be a surprise to learn that in this secular, even sin-filled, city that the crosses
 have religious significance. It’s the cross of St. Andrew, but no-one is sure how it ended up on the Amsterdam flag, it may have been part of the arms of the Persijns, a landowning family. The black centre stripe may represent the Amstel, the river after which Amsterdam is named, or not. The 
flag passes the Roman Mars design criteria and gets a nod in this TED talk on flag design (at about 10 minutes in).

The same design is used in an escutcheon or shield shape, and is applied to tourist souvenirs from key rings
to clogs, to beer mugs.

The shield forms part of the city’s arms, it “wears” a crown, which 
is the Imperial Crown of Austria, and the right to use it was granted to
 Amsterdam by the Emperor Maximilian I  in 1489 as a reward for the money lent in the 
Hook and Cod wars. The same crown sits atop the Westertoren, and turns 
up on the Blauwebrug.

Amsterdam emblem on Westertoren

Sometime in the 16th century two golden lions were added flanking the shield. I can’t find any particular reason for them being added, but it did bring the city’s coat of arms in line with the national coat of arms where the lion comes from the family arms of Nassau – one title still held by today’s Dutch royal family.  This version of the coat of arms is common around Amsterdam on older buildings.

The most recent addition to the coat of arms is less than 100 years old, and it’s 
the city’s motto “Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig”, meaning “Valiant, Steadfast, Compassionate”. It was granted to the city by Queen Wilhelmina in 1947, in recognition for the bravery and compassion shown by the city in the General Strike of 1941. So on older buildings you won’t see the motto. Here’s today’s coat of arms for Amsterdam.

So this secular, liberal, anything goes city has a coat of arms that features the crown of a
 Catholic monarch, the cross of a Catholic saint and a motto recognising a very humanitarian protest. It tells you a lot about the city.

The image of the city’s coat of arms is in the public domain, but its use is restricted within 
the city, however there are variants of it created and appearing on buildings around the city, and in local art. Including this by Amsterdammer street artist Hugo Mulder.

Images;

Rijksmuseum Summer Garden

Every summer the Rijksmuseum garden turns into a sculpture exhibit. This year the works are by Jean Dubuffet and from the Stedelijk Museum’s collection. The sculptures are bold, colourful, playful perfect for summer. Here are my two favourites from the gardens this year.


Arbre Biplan (version III)

“Tree Biplane”, this is the first large scale sculpture he made and he was still experimenting with the epoxy materials to find ways to make large scale sculpture. I walked around this several times, because there’s no symmetry the view changes, I love the contrast of the random shape of the sculpture against the formal architecture of the museum.

Le Deviseur I (The Chatterer)

He looks like he’s ready to chat, but there’s also something throne like about his chair. This is a sculpture I would love to have – in the fantasy garden of my fantasy mansion.

The exhibition is in the gardens until the 1 October 2017. There are also daily workshops for kids in a marquee in the garden (probably in Dutch, but hey it’s a craft project kids can figure out instructions). If you want to see more Dubuffet Stedelijk Museum is also exhibiting paintings from its collection (until 24 Sept).