Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nigella and Oprah Moment

Tonight is Christmas Eve and I have totally lost touch that the 24th of December is the biggest event and the most important evening commemorated across the Christian world. I got used to the low key Christmas celebration in the Netherlands and it doesn’t help either that I am an agnostic.

I will be posting my Prague and Dusseldorf entries in the coming days. I need time to upload the fotos and work on the posts but quite happy now as I am free beginning tonight until the weekend! 4 glorious days of enjoying the holidays, hopefully not overeating as I don’t want to gain the kilos I have lost, and looking forward to some activities lined up.

At any rate, I was watching the Christmas edition of Nigella Lawson on BBC a few nights ago and I totally admired the woman for what she has achieved – bestselling cookbooks, a TV show, a reputation, and insert some GBPounds here too.

She has a big following of Nigella wannabes but what I quite find annoying while watching her, I must admit appealing and lip-smacking show is her CONSTANT use of highfaluting superfluous words to describe her cooking. Apart from her gorgeous British southern accent (read: very aristocratic and erudite), she actually makes me dizzy. Hearing those gratuitous words just sent me off to some distant la-la poetry land. It must be her English major and journalism background?

Nonetheless, I stuck to watching her program in the hopes of getting some baking tips for the holiday season. I have this idea of baking together with Dutchman, which if I may add, hurled a raucous cry from the man himself – “Dag! Ik ben geen homo!” ha-ha! (translation: Hello, I am not gay!)

Anyway, Nigella’s program is fabulous I am sure, but after watching her show, I had to boil some water and drink my afslankmix tea (diet mix tea) from Kruidvat. I think watching the show just made me gain an instant 5 kilos.

I mean, goody lordy, hello! Seeing a whole pack of rich fattening butter going down into the mixer make me cringe. I don’t even have butter at home! Well, today was an exemption as I bought a small portion of butter with herbs for the bread – its holiday season alright, but we normally don’t have any butter or any fattening ingredient at home. I use olive oil for cooking and with every thing else, sesame oil for flavouring Asian dishes, and bread is eaten without butter.

So I resigned to the fact that I don’t want to bake this holiday season. Thank you so much Nigella!

And today, this late afternoon after coming home from work early, I watched, still watching actually, Oprah.

I am not really an Oprah fan, never have been. Rarely watched her clichéd roller coaster heartrending have mercy on this weeping TV show (Dr. Phil and the likes sound so icky familiar huh?), but the topic caught me so I decided to stay glued to the tube – The awakening of America: How to be thrifty.

So OK, what is my opinion on this subject?

Um, well, let me say that I find it absurd for Americans to be awakened this way (and be slapped, kicked and cursed too), to this NOT SO HARSH REALLY reality (after all). Conserving energy, using coupons for grocery, shopping in cheap stores, budgeting, eliminating the unnecessary, cutting down on eating out, not spending on credit, not spending beyond what you earn, saving some money..., isn’t this is so rudimentary? Common sense, right?

What seems to be a highly complicated matter considered a new discovery that couples had to hire a financial adviser to tell them they are spending beyond their means (I have to shake my head) is a no brainer! This emotional spending awakening fracas is no new news! Please! Here even, in this small inconspicuous below sea level country, this tightening the belt is an ongoing albeit very normal daily reality for many people, including me.

Many Dutch families living only with an average income between €33K and €40K a year with 2 or 3 kids are able to lead a quality and healthy life, go on holiday once or even twice a year, enroll their kids in artistic related and sports activities, and still have savings left in the bank.

Crunching daily is like breathing for many locals here (also something for high spending Filipinos to emulate). When it is about spending, the mental calculator begins to tick and work, doesn’t really matter if they are rich, have enough, are earning only the average income, or have less than most.

Money is a hallowed thing in this country. A culture where the penny pinchers are applauded and the big spenders and show offs are booed, seriously.

I think Americans can learn from the parsimonious, modest and cautious Dutch. OK, I give in, cheap Dutch ;-)

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