It has been Christmas in Trinidad since about the middle of September. Since then, decorations are everywhere and the radio only plays Christmas-themed tunes (only not ones you have ever heard of). We are giving it all our effort despite the climate but when it is this hot, something just does not feel right.
Nevertheless, the season starts for us with the arrival of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands (and all places where you can find Dutchies). Some of my readers, being Dutch, will know everything there is to know about Sinterklaas. For everyone else, here is the tutorial which I consulted. Even though I married the Handsome Dutchman, there were gaps in my knowledge:
Why such an interest in this slightly odd December tradition of the Dutch? Well, this year, the Handsome Dutchman had a starring role. That’s right, for one night only, the Handsome Dutchman was Sinterklaas. Despite the 30°C heat, The Handsome Dutchman donned the full costume and immersed himself in the character.
Accompanied by two purple Piets and some kind of strange Scottish woman helping him, Sint made an appearance at a party full of Dutch children to read out from his book what each child had been up to all year and to leave a big sack of presents. Despite the air conditioning, this was hot work as Sinterklaas dresses for typical Dutch weather in December and already has a lot of hair and a big beard. Gradually, Sint began to get redder and redder in the face and his beard began to slip slightly. Luckily, even if you round up all the Dutch kids (including half- and quarter- Dutch), Belgian kids and even a few random German kids who thought Sint was Sankt Niklaus, it is is still not an enormous crowd in Trinidad and soon enough Sinterklaas could be on his way again to colder climes before he was overcome with heat exhaustion!
With no small children (at least none under 1m80) in the house, our own celebrations are limited to the creation and consumption of kruidnoten. The spices came from New York and the demand came for them to be chocolate covered. Using a great recipe from Have Another Bite with the addition of some star anise, they tasted just right. Covering them in chocolate was another matter. Having melted the chocolate, it never solidified again other than in the fridge. After approximately ten seconds out of the fridge, it was again a melty mess. Everyone in the house soon looked like a toddler who has been given a pack of Cadbury’s Buttons on a summer day. The kruidnoten certainly did not look as flawless as anything mass-produced but Castaway does not care – they were eaten up even more quickly…