Before I met Barbara I had only experienced Dutch cooking. My mother always cooked, we as boys didn't have to do any household work. My mothers' cooking was very traditional Dutch. Normally it would be potatoes, vegetables and meat with gravy. I never had courgettes or aubergines and I didn't know what to do with a sweet pepper. Most of my friends were the worst cooks of all. They only ate out of tins or out of packets. It was either baked beans in tomato sauce, ravioli in tomato sauce or spaghetti in tomato sauce, all out of tins. Mostly with toast, sometimes with chips. Common was also chips on toast. The mashed potatoes, desserts and soup came out of packets mixed with hot water. Sometimes we had Chinese take away, sweet and sour pork and fried rice. Barbara complained about that 'the English only want to eat sweet and sour pork!'

Barbara introduced me to a whole new world of taste. I am together with my family are still grateful for that, as I do the cooking at home and thereby I still use the advices Barbara gave me.

Barbara taught me to combine ingredients without using a recipe. Just by mixing the right taste together. She introduced me to spices I didn't know existed. Like, oyster sauce, black beans, star anise, ginger. She combined ingredients that startled my mother. My mother still talks in amazement of the moment that Barbara put lettuce or egg in the soup. I learned to use vegetables like sweet pepers, onions, garlic. I also learned new ways of cooking like frying or steaming. Till then I didn't know what a rice cooker was, but all our Chinese friends had one.

Barbara took me to the Chinese restaurants in London, and showed me the difference between the restaurant that was specialized in not Chinese customers and the ones were only the Chinese came. I remember going to a restaurant where a Chinese young ladies in traditional costumes walked round pushing trolleys from which you take whatever you wanted to eat. Barbara didn't always feel comfortable in the restaurants where only Chinese came. The waiters refused to talk English, the menu was only in Chinese and sometime remarks were made about Barbara being with a foreign boy.

Barbara taught me how to eat with chop sticks. She told me that her own chop sticks manners were not very good, because she held them half way. Barbara new a lot about Chinese food (her stepfather was a cook) and she could really enjoy eating. She ate lots of little portions and only the nice bits. For example she would eat the inside of a pancake and leave the rest. I had brought up with the manner that I always had to eat everything that was on my plate. Completely different from what Barbara did. She often left a mess behind.

Barbara didn't like cooking herself. Sometimes she made a meal for my family or for our friends. Then she would come with amazing names for the dishes, like thousand year egg (which seems pretty old eggs to me) or fried/steamed bird nest. I don't know if that were the real names or she was just having me on, sometimes I just didn't know with Barbara.

Barbara and I were used to solving our own problems as both of us didn't have adults around who could help. This also meant that we both did our household work like cleaning, washing, mending clothes and cooking. At the moments we were together we didn't expect the other person to take over these tasks. We both did our bit. It suprises me that even nowadays still with many young couples the woman has to do al the housekeeping and the man does nothing (and the woman accepts this). But if Barbara ever had married, her husband would be very disappointed is he expected Barbara to prepare for him every day a meal and also do the household work for him. I think Barbara would give him the choice either get used to the English canned food (which Barbara also ate) or learn to cook himself. Barbara didn't see herself as a housewife slaving every day to keep the house clean and the cook for the family.

 

 

食物

在我遇到Barbara之前,我只了解荷兰烹饪。我妈妈总是自己做饭, 我们男孩子们不需要做任何家务活。妈妈做的是非常传统的荷兰菜。通常是土豆,蔬菜和配调味肉汁的肉类。我从来没吃过小胡瓜或紫茄子。 我也不知道怎么做红辣椒。我的朋友们多数不会做饭。 他们只吃罐头和包装袋里的即食食物。 基本是番茄沙司烤豆,番茄沙司小方饺,或是番茄沙司通心粉。和烤肉一起吃,有时配上薯条。最常吃的是烤肉加薯条。袋装的土豆泥,甜点和汤泡上热水。有时我们叫中餐外卖。糖醋猪肉和炒饭。Barbara常抱怨,"英国人就知道吃糖醋肉"。

Barbara把我带入了一个味觉的新世界。我和我的家人都很感谢她,到现在我在家做饭时我还用她给我的那些建议。

Barbara教我根据菜谱把各种佐料混合,把合适的味道混在一起。她让我认识了一些我闻所未闻的香料:蚝油,豆豉,八角茴香,姜。她混合的食材会吓着我妈妈。到现在她还会说起看到Barbara把生菜或鸡蛋放进汤里时的惊异感觉。 我学会了使用甜椒,洋葱和大蒜, 还学会了蒸和炒这些新的烹饪方法。之前我从不知道什么是电饭煲,尽管我们的中国朋友都有一个。

Barbara带我去伦敦的中餐厅,告诉我那些只服务中国客人的餐厅和那些专做非中国人客人的餐厅有什么不同。我记得去过一个餐厅,那里的中国女孩都穿传统服装,推着装满食物的小推车,你可以拿任何你想吃的菜式。Barbara在有中国人光顾的餐厅里时有时会感到不安。服务生不讲英文,菜单也只有中文。有时候也有人会评论Barbara和外国男孩子在一起什么的。

Barbara教我如何用筷子。她告诉我她的筷子也拿得不好,因为她握得太靠中间了。 Barbara知道很多中国食物(她的继父曾经是厨师),她也很喜欢吃东西。她吃很多样东西,每样都吃一点,只吃好吃的部分。比如她只吃馅饼的馅,剩下的都不吃。 我从小就被教育要把自己盘子里的东西吃完。 这和Barbara的习惯完全不同。她常常会剩下一堆东西。

Barbara自己不喜欢做饭。 有时她会我的家人或朋友做饭。她总有一些奇怪名字的菜肴,比如皮蛋(看起来就是又老又皮), 蒸燕窝。 我不知道这些是真的菜名还是她逗我玩的。有时候我弄不懂她。

因为我们的家人都不在身边,Barbara和我习惯自己问题自己解决。我们两个人都会分担家务活,打扫卫生,洗衣服,叠衣服,做饭。我们在一起的时候,我们也不期望另一半包办这些工作。我们两个都分担一些。我总觉得奇怪, 直到今天许多年轻伴侣中还是女方包办所有的家务,男方什么也不做的情况(女方也接受这种安排)。如果Barbara的未来老公指望她每天做饭和包办所有家务, 他恐怕会有麻烦了。我认为Barbara会给他两个选择:吃罐装英国食物或者学着自己做饭。Barbara不觉得自己会成为一个在家里打扫房子,做饭给一家人吃的家庭主妇。

(thanks to Natalie for the translation)

1979 bbq1

 

 

Comments   

# RE: foodhey 2011-03-02 14:00
Wow, interesting story! Rob, you were fortunate to know Barbara so that you learnt more about different food that you can cook. U should be thankful to her!

Well, chinese culture from China is if you leave leftovers on the plate, it implies that chinese people are generous to feed more, not stingy. If you leave the plate clean and empty, it implies that the chinese people don;t feed you enough. I'm surprised to know about it. Singapore culture, we have to leave the plate empty and clean so that food won't be wasted.
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# RE: foodhey 2011-03-02 14:02
Oh yes, i forgot to add: it is still true that women do housework chores while men do nothing. Not fair!!! Gradually, it will change that men will chip in to help out to do housework. :)
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# RE: foodjulia 2011-03-03 18:52
I am luchy to have a husband who cooks. :lol:
Huang Rong, the character that barbara played, knows a lot about food too!
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# RE: foodhey 2011-03-06 14:08
Oh yes, I'm curious who suggested hiking mountains? U or Barbara? I feel that you both were nature lovers - for eg: climbing mountains and hiking. Are you?
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# RE: RE: foodRob 2011-03-06 20:50
I am the mountain man. Barbara prefered the cities. But she also enjoyed nature. It didn't really matter for her, as long as we were together.
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# RE: foodhey 2011-03-07 14:49
Yup, I really love the candid photos of you and BY. Much better than deliberate posed pictures.

No wonder, you and BY frequented mountain/jungle. Do you know going to the jungle is good for the complexion? Very good oxygen to breathe in to keep the skin complexion good. It explained why BY was beautiful.

What influenced you to love mountains by going hiking? Europe is wonderful for its sightseeing. It makes me wish that I could go there to enjoy and bask myself in its beauty especially Scotland.
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# RE: foodhey 2011-03-07 14:50
I mean BY was healthy looking and radiant.
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# RE: foodHannah 2011-03-10 02:04
Yes, I agree BY looks great! I love to see her natural smile. Love the stories as always Rob. I have to say I LOVE the unique names asians always give their food, especially the chinese. I am sure those were Barbara's versions. Birds Nest and Thousand Year old Eggs are real names, hehe. Having friends and love ones of different ethnic backgrounds is so wonderful. Unfortunately it was not accepted in society as it is today. What a long way we have come, and yet we are so far also. You guys were definitely ahead of your time. Bravo!
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# RE: foodBarfan 2011-06-03 08:04
thousand year old tofu tastes very good, too! :P
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# 皮蛋 ?Chak 2011-10-03 05:54
like thousand year egg (which seems pretty old eggs to me)


Century egg ? /Preserved egg ? (Chinese: 皮蛋?)
:P
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# Thank you again...Karin 2012-09-18 16:01
Thank you for taking the time to update this website and thank you for sharing all these beautiful memories.
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# RE: 35. Food 食物 1979muffins 2014-01-27 18:44
Doesnt really look like her??
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# fr HKPoey 2015-10-24 20:08
thousand year eggs, a preserved duck eggs, can be put in porridge.

bird nest, edible nest (made of saliva) of cliff swallows, a very expensive tonic. sound scary but it's rich protein & collagen helps keeping your skin young and healthy.
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# RE: 35. Food 食物 1979Sandy 2019-06-15 00:45
This story reminds me of Huang Rong, that Barbara played in LOCH, also with tasteful eating and good at cooking. :-)
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# Hong Kong is a city, too!Ken Chau 2020-06-16 12:50
Barbara preferred London to Histon because London is a big city and it is similar to HK in some ways. Hong Kong is a city based on England infrastructure. If you could travel with Barbara to HK for holidays at the time, you would have understand her much more.
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