christmas came early this year. i am loving the mailman these days. look what he brought me yesterday! first, mari's BBM3 package arrived: like me, she's an expat (from the midwest, to boot) living in europe, and she's cobbled together her own traditions from her inherited american ones and adopted dutch ones. in this lovely letter she's written me, she tells me how, for the dutch gift-giving holiday, sinterklaas comes two weeks before christmas from spain, of all places, with his helpers, the zwarte piet (elves in makeup that gives me pause). on the feast day (december 5), everyone exchanges gifts and writes funny rhyming verses about a family member. everyone gets a chocolate letter -- mari's so thoughtfully included a giant droste 'W' for me. In the little tube (top center left), there are pepernoten, delicious little thumbnail-sized ginger cookies (i allowed myself one last night -- so good. impossible to find ginger-flavored anything in italy). next to the pepernoten, we've got homemade cranberry sauce, made from her mother's recipe, which is also in the package, along with her family's recipe for cream cheese bundt cake (how stoked am i for that?). there are also some restaurant reviews from the paper about local spots she likes and one of those lovely postcards with french cooking utensils on it (which i collect, coincidentally). the best part (other than the edibles) is the letter. i'd not realized how meaningful -- touching, really -- receiving handwritten letters from people (people i don't even know, even!) is. it's an art that must be kept alive. mr. mailman surprised me with not one, but two packages -- the long-awaited, much-bemoaned care package joyce sent. and holy shit, what a care package: she threw in 8 different kinds of instant noodles (i am gearing up for yet another viewing of tampopo), japanese curry, seaweed, black rice, a korean cookbook and stendhal! but the best part, by far, are the uniball pens she's got ziplocked (center) -- how well does joyce know me? (perhaps too well.) and the canned kimchi and -- holy crap -- big ol' tub of gochujang! she's made my chile pepper collection nearly complete: i've got chile pepper paste and pulverized paprika from hungary, pimentón from spain, piment d'espelette from france, dried anchos, guajillos and pasillas from a spice shop in chicago, tabasco sauce, sambal, sriracha, togarashi and the pulverized and flaked peperoncino i get from the spice lady in town, not to mention the new addition gochujang. i didn't even mean to amass this collection (unlike so many others that are taking over my apartment). but i like it. and because the fog finally lifted, a view from the roof of my office: those are the alps in the distance, beyond bra's rooftops. monviso is the big guy in the center.


Anonymous mari said...

I read that book, Eating Korean, recently. It is wonderful! I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I found Cecilia's stories about her family and growing up so interesting.

12/02/2005 11:09:00 AM  

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