Things change when you have kids. Like really really change. No longer can you go jetting off together to the world’s great cities for long weekends of stumbling round bar to bar, sight to sight, restaurant to restaurant, the only thing to do back at the hotel being flicking bemusedly through foreign telly while waiting for your wife to get ready.
No no no, none of that. Barcelona becomes Norfolk. Paris turns into Centerparcs. New York becomes…Belgium.
I’ve never been to a Centerparcs before. To be honest I don’t think I’ll be back again. This one has that slightly quaint, bit rundown, paint peeling, Sunday school summer camp feel about it.
And it’s very white! As in the people. Nothing against the Dutch, Germans or Flemish but we’re literally the only non-caucasian people here. And I’m a Londoner at heart, which means anything fewer than seventeen different nationalities or races in a public place at any given time makes me feel uneasy somehow.
And the whole Flanders thing throws me. The lower half of Belgium seems very French and the upper half seems very Dutch. So why is there a Belgium at all? Other peoples without a land to call their own have been known to get extremely peeved. But not the Flemings. They’re too busy riding around on old-fashioned bicycles. Maybe the lack of hilliness keeps them on an even keel.. literally.
There are good things about Belgium. It’s one of the few places on earth where you can justifiably eat fried potatoes with mayonnaise. And the beer, oh my God the beer! How do you go about making such incredible happy fug inducing beer? You’d have to ask a Trappist monk. I guess they must have plenty of time on their hands, to you know.. contemplate, masturbate guiltily and brew unbelievably special beer.
Er anyway changing the subject… I grew up on instant ramen. We used to go on excruciatingly wonderful car holidays to the continent when I was a boy. The camping stove was packed just so we could cook up instant ramen by the roadside. So today in my cusp-of-retro holiday chalet on the shores of an unnatural lake surrounded by trimmed greenery, I made this ramen dish with a sausagey, tomatoey broth.
I browned sausage meat, deglazed with red wine and simmered down passata and instant dashi. Then served with instant ramen noodles, a wibbly egg yolk and some cheese. The two greatest food cultures on the planet in one bowl. Buon appetito gozaimasu!
Serve in the largest vessel possible so you can stick your head in and joyfully loud slurping can be echoed right back atcha.
Ingredients: instant ramen, sausage, passata, dashi, red wine, egg, cheese