Thursday, May 20, 2010

...and then, there are Weddings

In about a week, Frankie and I will be flying to New Orleans for a wedding. I don't like flying, but will not miss trip. You know how it is, can't stay behind just because we have to fly! Especially these days, when so many of our loved ones live far away. Anyway, focus....we are talking wedding here. The bride is the youngest daughter of two of our dearest friends. Nicole was born and raised in Curaçao and while studying at Tulane met and fell in love with Ryan, All American boy. The stuff of romance novels, of romantic we are going there to celebrate their union. Valerie (bride's mother) is originally from New Orleans, Ryan's parents have never travel far, it was just natural to celebrate there. What luck for all of us attending!

Tony and Valerie are having several events and we are so looking forward to them. Also looking seeing friends from the island, hearing about their families, catching up. It's going to be wonderful! As I have said countless times, islanders really know how to celebrate; and be it in Curaçao or in New Orleans, I am sure we are going to have a great time. There will be dancing, laughter, great food and drinks. We will have long conversations after dinner, walk along the lively streets of the French Quarter and there will even be time to relax. It is Memorial Day weekend as well, so we can have an extended holiday.

Camille and Tim are coming over from London. Tim's first encounter with island culture; everyone anticipating how that would go. Frankie and I are also looking forward to spending time with our lovely daughter, we see her so seldom; and getting to know this tall and quiet Brit who has come into her life. So we are excited about this holiday. After the move, the organizing, the settling-in in our new apartment, this is a very deserved time to enjoy ourselves. We are going to recharge batteries, Curaçao style, even if are not on the island!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

On Birthdays and Celebrations...

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?....well, you wouldn't be wrong. It's just that back in Curaçao, celebrations are important, and there is always something to celebrate! Really, can't think why this doesn't happen everywhere. It makes for such a fun way of life. Does it have something to do with life in a small place or is it just idiosyncrasy? Or maybe is just the fact that there people have a more engaging way of life? Or is it that there people are happier? Which ever it is, it's a lot nicer, trust me!

This week was a friend's birthday. Milan is so much fun, full of life and engaged with the world around her. Much more than most of my friends, I tell you. Every time I think of her, I can see and hear her laughing. Isn't that a nice picture? Anyway, yesterday was her birthday. For days, her husband Alan, who is Frankie's cousin, announced to the world, through Facebook, this coming event. It was a countdown of sorts and so nice.

I am sure the day went wonderfully, she was surrounded by her family and dear friends, enjoying life as she always does. This is her biggest strength. I remember she loves birthdays. When her children were growing up, they had the most fabulous birthday parties. All with a central theme, everything coordinate to the last detail and so much fun. One year there were watermelons everywhere, a soda fountain, name it, she did it. Still have pictures somewhere! She should have gone into business with those ideas, but then, maybe that would have ruined the whole thing.

Last year, I happened to be in Curaçao for her birthday, so I went to her home. She was on the phone, laughing with well wishers, entertaining someone sitting in her welcoming porch, waiving goodbye to passersby....and enjoying every minute. There was coffee, tea and cool drinks, there were pastechis, croket and bolo (meat turnovers, croquettes and cake). Once I sat down, I was served something delicious, she thanked me for dropping by, made sure I was comfortable, all the while making everything look so easy.

This was not an anja será birthday (birthdays ending in 5 or 0), so I am looking forward to that celebration...and if I am around, I will attend for sure: it's going to be great!.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Memories triggered by recipes..

Absolutely, I agree, food is one of the most potent memory triggers. Don't you remember with amazing clarity the dishes you grew up with? don't you sometimes can actually taste them? and when you are far from home, don't you miss the smells and tastes of you mother's kitchen? I knew it!!! So does my daughter Camille.

She has been living in London for almost seven years. I can hardly believe it. It was just suppose to be for the duration of her studies, fourteen months and she'd be back in Boston close to us that had just moved to Miami.....but there is a lot of her mother in her! I adore London! Anyway, she fell in love with that fabulous city, finished her Masters, made friends, got a job and flat...and stayed. I don't think she herself knew for how long, it just felt right at the moment and things moved on from there.

All these years later, with more experience, a job she loves, a new relationship and a truly open mind....she is still there! I am sometimes jealous, she went for what she wanted, even when it has not been always easy. Anyway, I could move there myself, but with age comes caution....
I digress, as always. We are meeting in New Orleans in three weeks to attend a wedding. Camille is also looking forward to a visit with some friends that studied with her in London. It sounds like we are in for a treat!!!!

Today, she asked for some things she wants me to bring her. There is always something she wants from the States..... but she also asked for a notebook with recipes!!! Let's face it, she dabbles in cooking, but is not very interested. She likes entertaining, but is not going to spend the day preparing anything, no matter who is coming. Takes after me in that department too!

She wants the recipes for things she misses, dishes I used to make at home in Curaçao. I took out my recipe books....yes, I have a few. I looked through them, saw the recipes she wants, read others, sat imagining the way it was back then, when I thought we were going to live there forever and my house will always be home for my family. It made me so sad.

There is the book the American Women's Club gave me when I left, copies of which I signed for so many members that left before me. Saw all the messages written by my friends...not a good idea on a Friday afternoon. There are also the recipes that I don't make anymore. They are suddenly important again: Camille wants them!!! I have changed my way of cooking, new recipes, easier dishes, after all is only the two of us......but I remember.

I am going to make this a work of art. I'll include recipes, anecdotes, pictures, advise. I will make it so that she will laugh and enjoy every one of the recipes.....even if she doesn't really become a great cook. After all, London has great restaurants!!! Still, cooking makes for a great way to share memories and food binds us with our past. I am going to enjoy this!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Koniginnedag and other celebrations

Koniginnedag is Queen Beatrix's Birthday. Not her real one, but the one as queen. She ascended to the throne on April 30th, 1980 on her mother's , Queen Juliana's, 71st birthday. Every year The Netherlands and Dutch subjects around the world celebrate with gusto. This year's Queen's Birthday came and Dutch subjects around South Florida gathered at the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach. Our Consul General, Lucita Moenir-Alam, decided to have the annual party at a larger medium since it was her last. She is being transferred to Trinidad-Tobago as the ambassador of the Kingdom. An honor indeed and one richly deserved. I have known her since she was working at the Foreign Office in Curacao. I was working for the Business Journal, a small newspaper on the island, writing a series of articles on successful women. I interviewed her and was very impressed......positively sure she'll go far. She has.....

I digress, as always. The whole point of this is the celebration....and it was a very nice one. There was good food from Holland, exotic drinks from the islands and good company. There was a mixture of Dutch, Antillians, friends of the Netherlands, diplomats and the group to which I belonged: Dutch passport carrying citizens that are proud to be included in the Kingdom. Yes, yes, I do hear you! Kingdom? you'll say. What is this? in this time and age?. Trust me, it makes you proud to have received the honor to be Dutch. Aren't you proud of your country? what if you became an American citizen? are you proud of that?....see? On to other things, then!

Celebrations this time of the year are plentiful for me. There is Easter close by, then my birthday, then Queen's Day and then Mother's Day. Somehow they all come together in the Spring and really make for a wonderful few weeks of cheers. I look forward to each one of them. All would have been celebrated in a bigger fashion if I was still living in Curaçao, but thankfully, I can still celebrate all of them here!! Well, most of them....I can't celebrate Labor Day on May 1st; for that I would have to get back to the island. This year the celebrations took four days!!!

Don't kid yourself, public celebrations are as important as private ones, especially in Curaçao. I have to say that there are few places on Earth were you can have equal time to both. Take this past weekend: a grand flea market in the center of town, an International Food Fair at a tennis club, vendors and street fun all over the city, days off for schools and government offices, private ones as well, fireworks and private celebrations at the beach or at people's homes. This weekend rivals Carnival! When it comes to celebrating, this place has no equal. I do miss that and hope one day to celebrate the meantime: on with the party!!!