I guess it’s clear that for me food is more than just cooking something delicious and eating it. Recipes, dinner parties and culinary discoveries: everything has a moment, story or memory to it.
And a person: eating a whole fish for the first time with a dear friend in Ibiza; my first oyster with the in-laws; or that one dinner at home, where my brother brought over a 30-year-old Pedro Ximenez sherry: pretty memorable!
I could of course write down all these stories and share them with you but wouldn’t it be much better if the important people in my life did that? In “memoirs & meetings” they share their best, craziest or most delicious food memories, they talk about their culinary upbringing and they obviously share a favourite recipe. Wonderful stories that give a personal glimpse into the life of Miss Gingerish, today with good friend Nelien.
There are people with whom your path crosses again and again: via mutual friends, as a colleague, as a close neighbor. You can say that’s the case with Nelien and me. The very first time I met Nelien was at her parents’ home; her older sister was my classmate and I was invited to her birthday. I remember a sunny garden, loving parents and a little brother playing on the piano. Her sister and I both went our separate ways but Nelien I would often meet again before we finally became good friends.
During our (different) studies we did an internship at the same company. After our graduation we both started our first job with that same company; what a coincidence! When I was already in a new company for a while, I received an email: if I fancied a cup of tea? Nelien had moved to the apartments next to our building. That cup of tea was the beginning of our friendship, not knowing yet we would become colleagues again! Together with colleague and friend Ireen we were called “the three musketeers”: we worked closely together but also saw each other frequently outside of work. Long walks, drinks on the terrace, weekend getaways, dancing at a festival and especially lots of chatting with liters of tea.
Wine in our hand, feet in the sand
A few years ago Nelien and I went to Ibiza: what a great holiday! In the mornings we bought bread and fresh fruit for breakfast on our balcony on the seaside, then relaxing and reading by the pool (Nelien in full sun, I fully sun protected in the shade ;-)), strolling around the shops of Ibiza town, finally see Armin live, but also think about what and where we would have lunch and dinner. Good food is given to us, I believe. Enjoying food is important but we both choose conscious (ok, Nelien more than I ;-)). Todays recipe is a good example: Nelien was the friend that gave me the book af Amber Albarda, that made me change my way of eating.
Today we see each other a bit less but we continue dancing at festivals (preferably barefoot in the sand), drink tea, chat, exchange recipes and of course eating together!
Memoirs & meetings #4: good friend Nelien
How have you seen raised culinary?
Both of my parents are good cooks so I grew up with healthy, pure and good food. And in addition my fathers’ delicious pancakes. As a child I could be secretly jealous of friends; they had big tins with candy lollipops, biscuits, chocolate and drank lemonade and we? We often got a rice cake or a liquorice and a glass of syrup or apple juice; no soda. But if you ask me I missed that? Not at all. Cooking with the season and with pure local ingredients, I really grew up with that. As well as the ‘social’ aspect of eating together. Every morning we had breakfast as a family, we had dinner together every night, ate our lunch at home. Whenever possible we sat togethers at the kitchen table, loved it ;-).
What does food mean to you?
Well, it’s not original but “not filling, but feeding” fits with my ideas about food. Choosing the right ingredients, preferably from local suppliers, consciously choose what I eat and what I do not eat. But still enjoy food and eating. And preferably together with others. Going out for dinner or enjoy cooking at home with some friends. Food connects!
What is your best, funniest, craziest food memory with me?
Haha, I do not know if it’s the “best” food memory, but I remember it well. Ibiza town, 2013, Hostal Parque. We both ordered “fish of the day”. Delicious, but you never had a “whole fish” and did not know how to fillet a fish. On the contrary, I just love smoked mackerel. As a little girl I was at the sink when my father fillet fresh mackerel; I ate the fresh fish while he was still working on it. It’s not a surprise he quickly learned me how to fillet ;-). On Ibiza I helped you and in the end we had a delicious dinner (and a wonderful holiday)!
How would you describe your cooking style?
My style of cooking? Phew. Fresh and pure I would say. I cook just what I feel like that day and try new things. I try to copy flavours or dishes. Those delicious fresh spring rolls from Vietnam, that quinoa breakfast I once had, or the delicious fennel salad I had in Milan; I should be able to replicate that! (And oh yes, annoying, but all I cook or eat has to be photographed, I can not help it…)
If you had to choose one recipe to share, what would it be?
Since I know you’re not a “baker,” I want to share a nice and healthy cake. Since last year I mostly eat sugar- and lactose free. This tasty carrot ginger cake by Amber Albarda (cookbook: Healthy Baking) also meets these criteria.
Of course I have baked the cake for this interview; while in the oven the kitchen smelled delicious! This cake is delicious sweet and creamy and you can eat guilt free as breakfast, as a snack or with your tea!
Carrot ginger cake (recipe from Amber Albarda)
Makes one cake
- 100g almond meal (or finely ground white almonds)
- 2 tsp organic baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 (preferably organic) eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 6 dates, pitted and chopped
- 100g organic carrot, grated
- 45 g pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp grated coconut
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a 25 cm cake tin
- Mix almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl
- In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs and add vanilla extract, the mashed banana and coconut oil. Mix well
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix until a smooth batter
- Mix the chopped dates, carrot grater and pumpkin seeds evenly through the batter
- Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and sprinkle the top with grated coconut
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out (relatively) dry
- Let the cake cool completely before cutting
Earlier I interviewed my own Mr. G., sister and good friend Suus; they shared their recipes for Belgian steak with fries, roasted pumpkin soup and creamy broccoli soup. Curious? Check out the other memoirs and meetings!