On the last day of my Mongolian journey through Amsterdam-North I threw a party with and for all involved with the project. Since I was mainly running around I invited some guests to tell about their experiences that evening.
Dear guest: when thinking back at the party, what stands out most?
Nicola Chadwick from Ilovenoord.com:
‘Back in December on Midwinter night, we gathered for a meal we would never forget. Not least because the main dish had grazed in our garden. My husband had seen Vlekje just the evening before, eating grass in a field along the canal.
‘We arrived as a milk churn in which the meat was cooked was heated on the fire outside the Noorderparkkamer, the venue for tonight’s dinner alongside Loes’ small Mongolian tent. Gradually the guests arrived, many of them had hosted Loes and her goats during her nomadic existence in North Amsterdam. As the hustle and bustle in the kitchen progressed the table filled with sweets, fruit, meat pasties and salads. There was plenty to eat – an example of Mongolian hospitality.
‘We applauded the Mongolian cooks who had conjured up the delicious food. I think Vlekje fed us for a week.’
‘Loes explained how the day had gone, how Vlekje had met his end. Not an easy task, but as Loes herself put it: as meat eater she felt she had to eat her own animal at least once in her life. For me, it meant thinking more about where our food comes from and how distanced we have become as a society from production processes. My vegetarian son, Bas, had no problem eating meat this time, he knew Vlekje had lived a good life and been looked after well. We applauded the Mongolian cooks who had conjured up the delicious food. We took home what we could not finish. I think Vlekje fed us for a week.’
Ida and Rob:
‘We had promised to help, Ida in the kitchen and Rob with tending to the fire. When we arrived at 5pm in the kitchen, there were already a number of people cooking. The atmosphere was relaxed. Loes tried to answer all questions: ‘Where can I find a sharp knife?’, ‘Where are the big trays?’, ‘Are these pieces big enough?’, ‘How long do the vegetables need in the oven?’, etcetera. She was everywhere and nowhere and kept on smiling calmly.
Ida enjoyed working together in that atmosphere, the only thing that she anxiously tried to avoid was to look at the bare head of Vlekje in a bucket……. Outside a closed milk churn was simmering. A few hours of cooking and …. dreaming of beautiful places on this earth, far away. Pictures from Mongolia and stories mixed and mingled with good company and nomadic experiences in Amsterdam North.
‘A few hours of cooking and….
dreaming of beautiful places on this earth, far away.’
‘By the time the cooking was done, the table was overladen with food. Meat, vegetables, bread and butter. Cooked patatoes, candy and fruit. And then there was the tea ceremony. Loes had personal words for everyone involved. It was touching to hear her speak to all involved in different ways with the project. Sweet words, straight from the heart. We enjoyed the evening and are proud that we have been able to contribute our small part too.’ [translated from Dutch]
‘It touched me that you thanked every person separately who had been important to the project (and beyond) by kneeling for them with a bowl of milk tea and telling them why they were important. In doing that you also introduced all present to each other. That is nice in a world where people see each other only for a short while, nomad or not.
‘It is nice to be introduced to each other in a world where people see each other only such a short while’
‘I had anticipated a cold evening outside but it was inside, wonderfully warm with a lovely laid out table filled with delicious dishes and a very tasty little goat! I always thought that meat should be left for a while, but in this case it wasn’t necessary at all.
Furthermore I think it is very brave that you persisted in your project as urban nomad and took it to its ultimate consequence: killing your goat yourself. You are a beautiful nomad!’ [translated from Dutch]
‘While walking in the rain we saw light emerged from amongst the trees and we smelled the scent of fire. It must be there. And see, in front of your BedMobile a cook of Mongolian origin was busy with a churn full of meat from Vlekje. At the entrance a few people were smoking. We greeted them and entered. A wooden building, wooden tables, you and a few people preparing the feast. In the kitchen two ladies were were making a real Mongolian dish: flat rounds of dough filled with Vlekje. It was called buuz.
‘The music from the two Japanese young people was special and invited several people to dance.’
‘An hour and a half later the room was filled with friends, sponsors, people where you had found a place to stay with mother goat and her son. On a big screen one could see the fresh history of you and your nomadic existence in Amsterdam-Noord. And don’t forget the butchering of Vlekje by a Mongolian expert.
The diner could commence. With a bowl filled with a warm drink you knelt for everyone who had sponsored you, and thanked them in beautiful words. I did not notice at first that you also wanted to thank me: I was walking around with my photocamera to capture these unique images. Colourful, original and especially surprising this evening was. The music from the two Japanese young people, who had fled from the disaster in Fukushima and landed in the Netherlands, was special and invited several people to dance.
‘We went home… together with some leftover fruit, a liver, stomach, peritoneum, a goat skin and Vlekjes skin for in the freezer. To me a party like none before!’ [translated from Dutch]