Conversations { on Gender, Politics & Religion } in Amsterdam

{ An excerpt from Oi! Issue 2 – Originally published in 2015. Download the digital copy HERE!}

{ Fictional Stories about Factual Food Reviews }


Mid week in the Netherlands, Amsterdam to be precise; a slower city, a smaller city, a younger city.
The change in pace was mentally unhinging; after leaving via Liverpool street’s hustle and bustle in London.
As a series of annoyingly patronising past statements suggested, the Dutch city was nebulised with Marijuana, and the excitement that came from the mention of the inhalation of the herb, from British Memoirs, was more tiring than a bad high.
They travelled for design, architecture, food, and wine… oh and of course music. So boring. So cultured (!)
They willingly allowed themselves to be seduced by the call of the Coffee Shops, the Devil was in control, they’d say.

   

Bubblegum flavour”she requested.

The signpost above the door looked racist, and the right handed cycling these cyclists weren’t used to took them backwards, so wound up they couldn’t even think politically correct. They were food whores, but they didn’t call themselves this because they were Feminists, you know, it’d be slightly contradictory for the Literalists among them.
They locked their borrowed bikes to the lamppost at DapperMarkt after awkwardly side hopping off, less elegantly than they rode, vulvas were frequently bashed…

“Aite what you in the mood for?”her cockney chum punctured their silent intake of Continental Europe’s differences.
“Did you notice that you descend the bike ‘like a girl’ and I do it ‘like a boy’? The most unconscious and tiniest body movements have been gendered. – How about mushrooms with melted cheese on top. Green asparagus. And white wine?”
“Wait, wait, what do you mean like a girl? Are you being an arrogantly misogynist sexist feminist right now? Let me know yeah…? Let me know if you’re letting that framework work for you yuh?”
“Hahaa!!! See even the way you flip, just like a woman, so emotional…(!)
“Yeah and men can’t multitask so can we focus and get to shopping, go on left right left right, need some help there little Miss hyper Masculine?”she grunted sarcastically.

Their nagging persisted in the backdrop of the market scene, as they whimsically swayed between bouquets of pale pinkish brown Portobello. Breaking lances of asparagus into their basket, the complementary coloured Salmon fillets layered like a bed of rose petals on ice, were an irresistible choice. They ordered two.
The Market was a 6-minute stride from their place of residence where the excitement would begin…
“So what whites, dry or sweet?”
“No no no, definitely not dry, a light but punchy New World White to cleanse the palette but still encourage interaction of flavours.”

A bottle of Muscat was elegantly tossed into a basket after half a minute of intense silent comprehension. But cheese was the last variable missing in the equation of their gourmet palette.
“What’s that cheese called, you the one that tastes, likes nyuhm nhyem nhyam”she gestured helplessly.
“Well that helps a lot?! What is the colour, what’s the texture, is it goat is it cow is it sheep?”
“I dunno fucking ell, I know it I just cant remember the name…!”
“Well then look at the counter and see what you feel is close to it.”
“I dunno, that’s not gonna help, I just cant remember the name, its there I can feel it , its just not there?! Uh my gorrdd this is grim, I feel sick!”
“…is it a soft cheese, or a hard cheese…” she continued nonchalantly submersed in the selection of dairy delicatessen on display.

In the corner of her eye, to her rescue, she discovered a cocktail of stuffed cream cheese cherry tomatoes, which she overindulged in soothing her tongue on which the word would not come.

“Ummm that was soo good…Urgh whatever lets just pick anything it doesn’t matter anymore”
“Well let’s just go for a Camembert.”
“No that’s similar to what we had the other day… let’s go for that one.” she pointed carelessly to a big blue block of fungi infested curdled cow’s breast milk – the forthcoming tragedy yet unbeknown to her.
Arriving at their temporary accommodation, they spilled the catch of their foray over the sturdy steel work surface.
“I love the way they’ve gutted this fish, I hate dealing with that crap… urgh, makes me feel guilty…”
“You mean stuff that reminds you that it was a living being?”
“Lol… I just don’t get how people say we evolved from fish… or apes? They’re still here?”
“No one said we came from fish or apes, we just have common ancestors…”
“Okay… but listen to this logic yeah, because you know how people like to go on about God being ‘the Father’ or basically male and us coming from Adam and Eve…?”
“People also think Jesus was white and blonde huh huh huh (!) But every community has a myth that’s built on power structures…?”
“Yeah I know but listen yeah, for those Christians who don’t get that basic logic of their own God’s essence or being… isn’t God just Queer?”
“Well I think whoever interprets God defines the limits of what it can be through the limits of their own understanding.”
“But that’s basic knowledge, what I’m getting at is the fact that they say, ‘God made man, in ‘his’ image’, he then let him sleep and made woman from his rib’, so before woman was taken out of man, man was intersex, had both genders, so if that is the image and reflection of this God then God is Queer and written in ink… but Queerness is rejected in our society and especially by Christians?”
“Because … Can you open the Muscat already?!”
“Yeah one sec, and pass me the salt and a yellow scotch bonnet pepper please really want this to be light but popping, you know?”
“Cool, well should I warm up the oven then?”
“Yeah and can you put some water to boil on the stove please? I dunno why I’m so confused right now, something doesn’t feel right?”

 


The cleanliness of the worktop was a complete contradiction to her scattered thought process over Venus hills and Mars bars.
“…But yeah but in that reading I’d say, man has created God in his own image, which is the reflection of the sexist society at that time where men had the power to define herstory.”
“Exactly, so this whole idea of male dominance in every arena of interrelationship where women’s freewill and choice regarding her body her mind and her fucking pussy is dictated by male supremacy! Weird. Imagine some random bloke telling me when and how and what I should do with my body. right down to my vagina? My own vagina, mine. Mine mine mine, it’s in my knickers?!! Even the way some boys talk to grown up women, the basic level of human respect and mutuality is diminished!?”

Snatching the tumbler from her pal in desperation for relief, she swigged the French white like a gulp of Calpol.
“What is this cheese about babe?”perplexed by the stench and mouldy complexity, a thoroughly flippant examination had undergone. Tearing, crumbling and smashing the mixture into a bowl of Lemon juice, zest and chives, every idea of Gourmet was masked with feigned enthusiasm. The Asparagus simmered in a lightly salted Jacuzzi of water parallel to a sizzling slice of Salmon fillet, browning in the heat.
“Don’t burn that fish please.”
“Focus on your cheese sauce!?” she retorted sheepishly, it was already too late.
“Don’t you think this whole need for social control over genders whether you talk about Adam and Eve or someone policing your vagina, comes from this distorted idea that sex exists for procreation.”
“But that’s because of society’s teaching about sex and sexuality, they put a heteronormative idea of sex before individual sexuality. They limit the understanding of the act of intercourse by dismissing the topic of sexuality, which explores an individual’s erotic, desires and core need and way of expressing intimacy.”
“Exactly, because most of sexuality and most sexual intercourse – human as well as in other animals is not about procreation. Procreation is just one possible side effect of sex, like trauma, abuse, joy, ecstasy, affinity and or intimacy…”
“Isn’t that because Procreation is being pushed in a way that justifies heteronormativity as a human standard for sex and sexuality?”

The cheese mix was poured over the mushrooms and together hurdled into the oven.
YES! ‘cause the experience is not so much defined by the mechanics – like limited to genitals touching or penetration, but everything else happening within and in-between the persons. Basically, sex is a means of communication and connection. And as such it reflects individual needs and desires as well as social power relations. And let’s not forget that many people because of their bodily sensations, perceptions and experience cannot relate to the idea of two separated genders in the first place.”
“Babe, I’m too hungry to think straight right know, no pun.”
“…And then out of all this control and suppression and norms, people encounter relationships not knowing their own needs and desires and bodies but packed with illusions from porn and prom night?! And then they put that expectation on themselves and their partners. And what is lost is the chance of an actual encounter and safe space of joint exploration. And people end up doing things they actually don’t like or accepting being sexually dissatisfied. But hey, don’t question … remember we’re just doing this because of a genetic programme to procreate once in a while. Cheers (!)”she discharged.
“Urgh , you know what I cant do this right now I’m so starving… take those Mushrooms out please I’m gonna faint… lets just eat already?!”
Her companion extricated a pair of lukewarm undercooked mushrooms from the enclosed cooking compartment, cradling a citrus cheesy slaver.
“Nooo I forgot to boil the Mushrooms?!!”
“Hahaha!! Okay let’s just put them back in on full heat till they soften?” She glanced back skeptically with an unspoken doubt.
“Okay, okay, cool, how much wine we got left?”
They doubled up, waited, staring impatiently at the inanimate fungi, stood like society’s idea of the ‘man’ and his so called weakness, debilitated helplessly spellbound to the erotic captivating nature of the ‘woman’. A cheese melt. A jock and a dazzling scatterbrained concoction; a confusing collision. Projections of thwarted perceptions had manifested in the oven.
“Okay its been 7 minutes, it should be fine now, and the Salmons getting cold so…”
Stumbling over each other they dragged the mushrooms off of the baking tray, and dashed them onto their dinner plates.

And ate…
“Urgh this cheese is disgusting…?! Arghh?!” and at that moment like magic,
“Halloumi?! Halloumi! That’s what I wanted?! Bloody Halloumi, we should’ve bought Halloumi I knew it, this whole afternoon I forget the damn name and it comes back after we’ve poured all this melted Stilton in the flipping mushroom, flip sake?! Uaarrgh…can’t get this zingy taste off my tongue. Oh my lord, I’m gonna die!”she wailed.
​”What?! Flush it down with the wine then?!” her fellow diner dismissed, gnawing away at the supposed delicacy her mate cooked but failed to enjoy.
Disappointment. Minor mistakes that destroy the broth, she sulked, furiously.
It tastes worse with the wine?! Oh my god?! but I want to drink that wine because it was such a bloody good pick​, I’m so pissed off . oh my God! Oh my god?! I’m so pissed off!!?” she bawled.

Desperately starved and lacking energy, she fed herself like an impatient mother force-feeds an ambivalent toddler. Kicking, screaming yet giving in with such baffling alacrity. Her desire to replenish her body was equal to her hopes of numbing her palette and destroying any evidence of the false dream she sold and cooked herself.
And as the saying goes, different strokes for different folks, the other swallowed with glee…

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