Having put the Westvleteren beer up there in my top five for the weekend I should probably reflect on what else was close by.
Well a trip to Holland is always good for an opportunity to connect with some of my Dutch heritage. With half of the genes running around my body there should always be the chance that spending some time over there will allow me to connect ever closer to those parts of the family that were left behind.
So it was that I had a weekend of bitterballen and Black Peter.
The bitterballen were more the palatable. They are deep fried balls of roux mixed with some ham or beef covered in bread crumbs and served so hot from the frier that biting into them inevitably leads to burnt lips. They go very well with dark beer houses and dark beer and were an excellent way of lining the stomach before a modern day lunch and over a Sunday morning breakfast.
I could do with some more bitterballen in my life and with a glass of either Palm or Konick close to hand I could feel feel a little more Dutch.
That came crashing down slightly on the Saturday lunchtime when we emerged from out beer and bitterballen to come across a small group of jolly Dutch people blacked up as Black Peter and playing trombones. We moved on slightly bemused only to find ourselves walking toward a stage from which we could hear the unmistakable sound of people playing the Okey Kokey at volume.
I muttered that we were about to walk around a corner to find ourselves confronted by a hundred Black Peters all doing the Okey Kokey and so it came to pass. There was something surreal about it all. There was a stage with a band on playing the music and in the middle of the stage a white beard Sinterklaas wavily gamely to the crowd attended by his Black Peters – all of whom were blacked up and togged in bright costume.
The crowd seemed to be made up of of almost equal part Black Peters and their children who all waved back and then turned round to the startled passerbys to hand out sweets.
We walked through open mouthed. In hindsight it was no highlight but perhaps a small insight in to some of the dutch culture that has been left behind.