Television is something of a delicacy for most full-timers. It’s been there all our lives, but it feels stupid to have these wonderful backyards while watching Vanna light up tiles. Besides there is something off-putting about signing a long-term contract with a satellite provider at cable rates while making a substantial investment in equipment. Instead, many of us use the free over-the-air signal available near densely populated areas. There’s usually a few shopping channels, some that broadcast only in Spanish, and maybe PBS with Jacques Pepin, Rick Steves, and This Old House. When we’re lucky we get one or two of the major networks. Earlier this summer one of the educational channels turned us on to Holland, Michigan. For reasons unexplained many of The New World’s Dutch immigrants were drawn to that town and its neighbor, Zeeland. They came here, Teutonic habits intact, and in sufficient numbers to exert social pressure on each other to keep every aspect of their homes and work neat, clean, and highly organized.
The gene pool within the cities they founded has been diluted by the blood of shiftless Mediterranean types (like me), but by and large the Kat’s people have converted or subjugated those deviants. Holland, with flowers galore, lawns manicured twice a week, and no visible trash or junk may be America’s prettiest city. We did not explore the western side of mainland Michigan in our first visit to the state, but we enjoyed its blissfully cool summer weather. Two weeks remain to relax and rest before beginning Amazon’s grind, and this hotbed of clean shall be our base.
Holland’s best restaurant is considered to be De Boer’s Bakkerij. It’s famous for its breakfasts, slightly less so for lunch, and they close long before dinner. Everybody has to wait at De Boer’s, including the day we went just before a severe thunderstorm moved in. It rained so much customers came in barefoot, carrying their shoes. Is that Teutonic? I never witnessed such a thing in Shreveport: could be.
We opted to go with breakfast. Kat ordered an old favorite, Eggs Benedict over Crabcakes. The eggs were poached the right way, the cakes were heavy on crab and light on bread. I had Blue Raspberry Klompen Cakes, huge pancakes studded with raspberries and blueberries, stuffed with vanilla mascarpone, topped with more berries and granola, and dotted with butter and a drizzle of real maple syrup. The verdict: so good I have already looked for their recipe, and if The Google can’t find it, it ain’t out there. “Klompen” is known to Google, and it’s the Dutch term for a wooden shoe, which the cakes resemble in plate coverage. I will experiment with Dutch Baby recipes, many of which are loaded with berries or nuts.
Later we will visit Grand Rapids but skip Gerald Ford’s birthplace. There I have my eye on a Sicilian pizza place, and a neighborhood butcher shop famous for its bratwurst. We will drop in on Muskegon and possibly enjoy a Lake Michigan beach picnic. On another day lunch will require a visit to the renowned New Holland Brewing Pub.
As Calvin famously told Hobbes, “The days are just packed!”