Thursday 17th May was Ascension day here and a Bank Holiday. To mark the occasion there was a three-day culinary event, ‘de Rollende Keukens’ (Kitchens on Wheels), held in one of my local parks, the Westerpark. This event featured a multitude of world cuisines that were prepared and sold from various mobile stands.
Know your target market
Anyone who saw The Apprentice a few weeks ago will remember one of the tasks for the opposing teams was to prepare and sell street food. The winning team embraced the theatricality of street food, engaging with passersby and luring them in with loud banter and of course, delicious smells! Knowing your market is important too. Anyone with common sense could have predicted that football fans wouldn’t be prepared to spend six quid on a portion of lukewarm pasta when they can get burger and chips down the road for two quid. This error of judgement led to team Phoenix’s downfall.
Yummy mummies and daddies were the target market for the Rollende Keukens. The brightly painted camper vans, caravans and wagons appealed to the trendy thirty-somethings and the most successful sellers made a show of preparing and selling the food, as well as providing a sideline fairground attraction for the kids.
You can take the ‘girl’ out of England…
What did I try? What does an expat really miss abroad? Fish and chips of course! You can get fish in batter here but the batter is usually soggy, isn’t made with beer and has a nasty, bitter aftertaste. Unfortunately, fish & chips on sale in the park had an upwardly mobile price tag of seven euros! Most snacks were going for around four euros so I wanted to make sure of the portion size before ordering. The seller, who insisted on speaking English to me, said it would be served in a large ‘pointy bag.’ A ‘puntzak’ is a cone of grease absorbent paper in which chips are served in Holland. Even though I speak fluent Dutch I rather enjoyed the bumptious seller’s discomfort as he struggled to come up with the right translation for ‘puntzak.’ Nevertheless, I often feel slightly guilty in these situations, believing that as a language teacher it’s my job to give non-native speakers a quick vocabulary and cultural lesson. But no, it was a Bank Holiday for me as well and as we don’t have a tradition of serving chips in a ‘pointy bag’ anyway, I couldn’t help.
So, in for a cent in for a euro, I paid my money, gave my name and after having a nice chat with a neighbour I bumped into, was called back via a megaphone to pick up my fish and chips. And they did not disappoint, succulently fresh fish was cooked to perfection in a crispy batter and the chips nestled tantalisingly in the ‘puntzak.’ Only thing that the Dutch will never get is that instead of a homemade sauce with fresh herbs, all most Brits really want on their fish and chips is salt and a splash of Sarson’s malt vinegar…