Amstel-dam

Because it is a sometimes misty April and the tulips are in bloom- strong reds and yellows and blues- subtle in their design, absent of scent.  And if you’re tulip-loving me, and living in Brooklyn during this kind of April, it all feels a little like Amsterdam.  In the words of Lillian Langseth-Christiansen, and my (kind of terrible) photos of (not at all terrible) photos by Ronny Jaques.

From Gourmet, The Magazine of Good Living, Volume XLI, March 1981

“Part of Amsterdam’s fascination lies in the vitality and determination- to say nothing of cunning- that was needed to build it.  The zee had to be diked and connected with the North Sea so that little Amstel-dam could become a world seaport.  Waters were maneuvered into canals, and more than a thousand bridges had to be built to cross them.  Houses were balanced on wooden stakes, and the Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace) alone stands on 13,659 piles that are each almost forty feet long, while the royal family lives in the white residence at  Soestijk near the Hague.”

 “For me the magnetism lies in the city’s complete fulfillment of expectations- the picture one always sees of the white-trimmed house on the canal is not, when one gets there, an isolated corner in what remains of the Old City; it is Amsterdam, all of it.”

“…beautiful in a non metropolitan, multilingual way, architecturally unspoiled, with few heroic monuments…It is convivial, popular, frumpy, and has rain on 228 out of365 days.”

“…generates its own sunshine: the glowing flower market along the Singel, the planting in the squares, the bright bouquets on every restaurant table, and the festive playing of the carillions…”

“The pleasantest (and most nourishing) way of seeing some of these houses is to dine in the restaurants that have squeezed themselves (as has the rest of Amsterdam) into their dimensions.  We are told that restaurants cannot succeed on eight or ten tables, but they do in Amsterdam, catering to a clientele that deliberates over a long-drawn-out dinner and, at its end or even before its end, orders cigars.”

“One can still walk down the unchanged streets along the canals where merchant families built their houses and their fortunes and then enter the Rijksmuseum to see them sitting, in their stiff black hats and their uncompromisingly starched white collars, in Rembrandt’s glowing colors.  They are the men who explain the city, in the city that explains the men.”

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