Kookboekpraatjes vullen gaatjes!

for it is not what they do that matters, but what they are not doing
(Cyril Connolly) 

A lot has changed since those ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. There still are many youngsters, made up of all nationalities travelling worldwide; now frequently in short, vacation sized periods. You can find them along well worn paths beaten by hundreds of thousands already, in Hard Rock Cafés, on surf beaches, in B & B's in Bali and Bombay, in a MacDo on every continent. T.V., websites and movie theaters now dispense most of the culture (or what Hollywood believes it to be) so why bother see the pyramids or Angkor Wat. These travellers, backed up by jobs or job prospects at home, have more money than ever before, are safely supported by Internet, mobile phone and cashcard and rely on cheap, fast air connections out there and back home. These are the blessings (?) of international economic development into a Global Village.
The genuine adventurers of the 50’/60'/70's type you shall not find amongst the above. The genuine adventurers have evolved. The former pre-university “want-to see-the world” generation, turned itself into today's older group of post-university, well educated professionals, aiming for companies of any type and size, which have interests abroad, and are targeted for managerial positions. Have gun, will travel. In these post Wild West days, sharp-shooting guns have been replaced by sharp-shooting financial, managerial, legal, engineering or commercial minds. This older generation has no doubt about who they are: they know extremely well who they are and what they want. Their aim is a well-considered career move, for gathering local knowledge, a language or two and, most importantly, experience in dealing with other cultures. In short: acumen supplemented by down-to-earth savvy; professional knowledge enhanced by foreign savoir-faire, as well as seeing the world as a bonus to a good job.

Being of a generation between the two, I envy the latter.
Before moving to Portugal as a company director, I had moved country more than a dozen times in the previous 30 years, first as a bachelor, later with wife and kids, not to mention an ever increasing load of baggage. There was no limit to our personal belongings, as being employed by a shipping company this was seen as a benefit. But otherwise, to me and countless other expatriates, in commerce, banking or government, there were nonnegotiable mostly unwritten rules laid down by managements, which were deemed agreed when first accepting the job. These entailed “understandings” such as “Legal wives only; no marriage certificate, no joint posting”, “Wives are and remain unemployed”, “Thou shalt not argue about destination” and, most importantly, “If your wife does not like it, tough luck”. One other unwritten rule was that it was one’s own responsibility to make sure that the family ended up in the right living quarters, in the right neighbourhood, in the right school(s), but always at the imposed, often improbably low budget. New local secretaries, new colleagues and word of mouth at destination had to ensure that the right decisions, some with long-term impact were made, mostly in a very short time. Staff departments at HQ, which often made decisions with great impact, seldom employed former expats, to help them benefit from some realism or even a hint of local knowledge. (I.a.: the company which employed me, to their credit, was an exception. Darius). This has now all changed for the better, hence my regret of not having had the benefits the present generation enjoys. It is very likely that even the youngest member of H.Q. staff today has, from personal travel or vacation experience, more than a basic knowledge of living conditions in Bahrain, Bordeaux or Bora Bora. Which makes for vastly improved decision making. Also, it is easier today than 20 years ago to negotiate one’s own conditions and benefits, based on personal wishes, circumstances as well as specialist qualities and because of the discovery that spouses do count. Best development of all, which expats of today can benefit from, are the specialist Relocation Companies. Many were set up worldwide in the last 20 odd years. Organizations employing expats today, generally make budgets available more easily for the appointment of an R.C., recognizing the savings they can achieve elsewhere: it frees secretaries to do their own jobs, expats do not have to deal with difficult, unreliable, misleading or downright crooked estate agents. Spouses (I use the word deliberately here, as in this age female staff get expatriated too with their family) do not feel pressured to seek out information themselves about schools and local conditions, from market days to plumbers, from shops to community details. Every reliable piece of information is on offer for the asking. Relocation Companies take the pressure out of relocation. Best of all, their advice on local conditions can help to improve budgets allocated to expatriates for housing, supplements etc.

If only I could do it all again, the new way!


Peixe gratinado (Gegratineerde vis)

Nu je zo geduldig het bovenstaande hebt gelezen, nog even dit. Op de dag dat ik dit redigeerde voor plaatsing had ik het plan een recept mee te plaatsen, maar geen omlijnd idee. Mijn lunch in de Pastelaria gaf de oplossing! Een gerecht van de Braziliaanse kokkin, die wonderen verricht in haar kombuis van zes vierkante meters. Ik geef geen hoeveelheden, want die kun je zelf het best bepalen.

Een flinke moot witvis, (kan ook uitgewaterde stokvis zijn) insmeren met olijfolie en in een ovenschaal leggen. Maak met de staafmixer een ruime  hoeveelheid brij van het volgende mengsel: bos peterselie, bos zeepkruid (korianderblad), (naar wens jonge rauwe spinazie), knoflook (niet te weinig), uitje, scheut olijfolie, wat zout, flinke draai peper, flinke scheut citroen- of limoensap, eventueel wat druppeltjes Tabasco, als je van iets pittiger houdt. Brij gelijkmatig over de vis spreiden en de voorverwarmde oven in tot gaar. Serveren met kleine aardappeltjes, broccoli en staafjes wortel, gestoomd tot net krokant.

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