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1 Feb

Thuisafgehaald literally translates to: picked-up at home. It is a Dutch `invention’ and the Thuisafgehaald concept is simple: share your meals in the neighbourhood to reduce wasted food. Basically, if you go to, you enter a website which makes it possible to, (after you enter your postal code) find whether some of your neighbours (in the Netherlands) cooked something nice for dinner and whether you can pick it up. In fact, the interface will show what your  `neighbour’ is offering, how many €s s/he asks for it, and when you can come and collect it.

The thuisafgehaald definition of neighbour is a bit abstract.  The default range of distance is minimally 1 Km, so it might be that your actual neighbour is not even participating, but the guy down the hallway (or around the block) might. The range of distances extend to up to 10 Km, so you  might consider a quick stop on the way home from work. In essence, if you can quickly set it in the oven or microwaving your food will not disintegrate all the texture, why not picking up 10 Km from your house?

But who is cooking? Anybody can cook (yes, like in Ratatouille). Marleen and I have been participating since October 2012. If you’d like to give a look to our profile you can find it here. It is actually a very convenient way to cook, because there is no need to divide or multiply the ingredients according to the persons eating, so rather than cooking for two you can cook for four, six or eight people. I find this sometimes makes recipes a lot easier to deal with than if you would only make it for two persons.

Besides from not having to recalculate every recipe’s quantity there are also other advantages to thuisafgehaald. For instance you get to know new people in the neighbourhood. Some comes again, so you get to know them a bit more  and then (especially I)  feel a bit more integrated with these Dutchies. With some others you get to have conversations about food, recipes and books, so it becomes indeed some kind of extended neighbourhood. It is also a very good opportunity to practice the language, in fact I am trying to  speak only Dutch with the people who comes over.

Picking up food at somebody’s else place is also a very good sign of integration, in my opinion. You get to know people and to see differences which gains into the diversity repertoire, which is always good. Personally I always feel a bit exposed when someone comes over. One becomes paranoid about cleanness and order (I am not so good in keeping stuff organized and in their place). On the other hand, most of the time when people comes I am always a bit behind schedule so they see the kitchen in the status that it is when I am really using it. This state is comparable to a war zone, just with pens, cans, and wooden spoons instead of all the mass murder stuff used to make wars. In any case whether picking-up or giving food away thuisafgehaald is always fun, so I highly recommend it!

The thuisafgehaald concept is starting to spread around the world too. The Dutch website has been translated into  English. The English version also make it easier for the foreigners to both offer and pick up food. And the neighbourly nations Germany and Belgium are also starting their own thuisafgehaald. Being Italian, I am curious whether the thuisafgehaald concept will ever take over souther nations than these. In Italy or Spain for instance, which are regions where hospitality and the food culture are very strong and treated very differently than in NL for example, the problem is that food is shared. If one goes to somebody’s house at dinner time the family will just add a chair to the table, and then no excuses can be taken, that is how it goes. The only way to avoid being asked to join the dinner is not showing up during dinner time (which one rigorously does if he has not been invited). Also, in Italy or Spain people would feel very offended if you try to place money on the table for their food (after 8 years in the Netherlands and 4 months of Thuisafgehaald I still fell a bit embarrassed too). So I am curious to see what happens if the thuisafgehaald concept will expand to include countries such Italy or Spain.  Will the tradition change?


25 kilos of flour

4 Jan

During Christmas Marleen and I visited Hanos in Nijmegen. Hanos is a restaurant and catering wholesale, which means you can find almost anything you have been looking for but could not find it. There is a problem with accessing the store, because you need a card you can get only as an entrepreneur, but Marleen’s parents have one so we could join them in their visit to the store.
The Hanos is nice because of the varieties of products they offer, but also for the quantity options. For instance, there were bags of 25 Kg of flours (when you are using 5-6 kg of flour a week it is a bit unhandy to buy the 1kg packs they have at the supermarket). But also packages of 1.5 Kg of gorgonzola, or ricotta. Kinds of pecorino cheese I did not even now existed, any kind of fruit, vegetable or fresh meet/fish you could come up to. Also the varieties of spices, oil, vinegar, wine, spirits etc. is enormous. We could finally find Colza oil, which I could not see in any supermarket, or other cooking shop. Colza oil is part of the dressing of the lemon-ravioli with goat-cheese which are described in Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Now that we tried the recipe I am not sure it makes a lot of difference than the sunflower seed oil I used before, but maybe I should try again and use colza oil in one plate and sunflower oil in the other. I do not think using olive oil for this recipe is a good idea because the taste of olive oil is, I think, too strong for the ravioli. To make it less abstract the dressing of these ravioli consists on tarragon, red pepper and lemon juice (once could also add salt, but I don’t).
I’ll talk about the ravioli recipe another time but, in conclusion, the Hanos is an ingredients paradise. The only catch is that one might end up buying the whole shop (which is not very plausible when you are unemployed, or, also in this case, unemployment might help given that you really must choose on what you are going to put your money on). Last thing said, I opened the 25 Kg package of flour December 30 2012. How long will it last?