I never liked pea soup. I never saw the great joy in hanging out with peas warmed up in a bowl, waiting for something to happen; just doesn't do it for me.
However, I have been in Amsterdam for the past six months and built rapport with the staff at CafÃ© Prins, and as it goes rapport needs to be reciprocated. It is this rapport allowing the owner to feel it was safe to launch a "pea soup volley".
"You should try the pea soup my friend," he said. "It is very Dutch and I know you want to enjoy more of the Dutch cuisine during your time here." He was right. I was here to "Touch the Dutch" i.e., find out how they lived, learned and loved in this city. But how could anyone love pea soup?
"The soup is hearty and it has a few sliced of bread and meat alongside the soup, with a bit of butter as well, you will love it, especially the bread, and it is a hearty bread.Â You bite the bread and the butter and bacon all at one time, this is the secret; you have found something good. Plus if you don't like it, I won't charge you."
Now, here I am the ward in charge of determining the level of perfection involved in my least favorite dietary concoction; pea-soup.Â Secretly, I'm thinking what possibly could be sexy about pea-soup? Minutes later a bowl of the green machine is placed below my nose and the scent waifs upwards. Hmm, this actually does smell good? There seems to be some sort of sausage gently being caressed by this green mixture and I won't lie; it looks and smells inviting.
I gingerly take my first spoonful and place it to my lips. Yes, I know it's only pea soup and soup and sausage has never been know to be a volatile mixture, but I'm still taking every precaution. Yet, lo and behold, once again from the mouths of the pragmatic irrepressible Dutch comes the truth; this soup is amazing!
The soup is creamy, with a miniscule amount of texture. If it was a photo it would be Ilford Pan f-50, pushed just a Â½ stop to give it more grain. The peas are anything but boring and bland. A hint of the meat in the mixture which gives an underlying full smoky flavor which makes the peas come alive, in a manner they never did on their own during Thanksgiving day dinner.
These peas have somehow moved into something more. Not just light and fluffy like proper mashed potatoes, but they are at that tender moment where the gravy, butter and potato collide to create a perfect place. Somehow this smoked sausage bonds with peas and creates something exciting.
"You have to take a bite with the bread," the owner is smiling his world famous smile that I love on every member of their family. Beaming he looks as if I have just joined the fold; I have.
The bread is brown and very dense. I break a bit to sample; it is as he said, "a hearty bread", dense, dark, and it damn sure is the polar opposite of "wonder white", back in States.
"The next bite will be perfect". I break bread and dip it into the bowl of soup. He is correct, perfection lies within this bowl. There is something so delicate and light about the way the meat and the soup and the bread and bacon come together. The bread is made softer by the soup and the soup gives a compliment to this nonporous honey& wheat connection. Each bite is better than the last, leaving no reason to doubt him again.
He walks towards me smiling. "Would you like me to suggest a beer for tonight as well, my friend". We both burst into laughter. He is already carrying me over a glass of his beer of choice.
Neftalie Williams is a writer and photographer here for us at In the Know Traveler, but don't think being whisked off to remote locations and wining and dining in the best places on earth is all he has on his plate. He is also a regular writer and photographer for several publications including, YRB Magazine, Vapors Magazine and Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. In these outlets he's consistently keeping pace with the pulse of our time, interviewing personaes that range from some of Hollywoods newest rising stars like Jason Lee, to the king of the musical underground Peanut Butter Wolf, he keeps his finger on the trigger and isn't scared to pull it, as long as it keeps his readers in the know!