Science - December 9, 2004

Food / Stroopwafels

In the quest for international students preparing food, this week Wb spotted Rinat Dahan, who was just finishing her shopping on the market.

Rinat, a biotechnology master’s student from Israel, is busy putting her groceries in her bike bags. ‘These bags (fietstas, as the Dutch call them, ed) really make life easy. I wasn’t familiar with them before I came here, although I did do a lot of biking in the small village where I come from.’ Today Rinat did not actually buy that much: aubergines, mushrooms, apples and the divine Dutch stroopwafels. ‘Ah, and flowers, but I won’t eat them. I buy a fresh bunch each week.’
Eggplant is really Rinat’s favourite. ‘I think I will make a kind of eggplant stew this time. I cook them in a large pan with onions, tomatoes and garlic. Actually that might be an Italian recipe, or Provencal, rather than Israeli.’ Eggplant is really a popular dish in Israel. You will find it in salads, cooked, or baked or fried together with garlic and other vegetables, and spices.
Rinat: ‘The way people prepare their eggplant depends on where they come from. Israel is a mixed society and everyone comes from somewhere else, so recipes differ as well. For instance, my father comes from Iraq, and he cooks spicy dishes. My mother comes from Germany. But her cooking style is actually more a mixture, she likes spicy stuff as well.
What I really miss a lot is eating on the street, that’s really common in Israel. You can find practically everything, any hour of the day. Our street food is also a mix of cultures. The very popular foods are falafel, fried ground chickpeas, and shoarma, both Arabic dishes. My favourite eggplant dish is ‘moussaka’, a layered vegetable dish cooked in the oven which is actually Greek, but we eat it a lot.’
Dutch cuisine led Rinat to the discovery of stroopwafels; they have become a dangerous addiction. ‘I learned about stroopwafels the first day I arrived in Holland; the CSA served them as a kind of ‘welcome’ for the new international students as they registered. It is a gorgeous combination of caramel and waffles, both of which I like a lot. Now I sometimes have four a day.’
Rinat is not really carried away by Dutch main courses though: ‘I ate together with Dutch fellow students twice. A lot of Dutch food is fried and it kind of lacks taste; I miss the spices.’ / TS

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