Wrap it up!

She had a worried frown on her forehead. ‘What are we doing to this planet!?’ she muttered.

“What are we doing to it?” I asked. “We are smothering it!” Her eyes grew big. “In plastics! Last year, we have dumped eight million tons of plastic in the sea!”

“Eight million tons is a lot indeed!” I nodded.

“And the worst part of the story is that most of it is not even visible. It sinks to the sea, then it degrades into microscopic particles and then it becomes part of circle of life. Fish gobble it up with the plankton they feed on and in the end, we eat the fish and our own plastics with it.

“You reap what you sow.” I sighed. Now I’m frowning too. “What can we do about it?” I ask her. “Can we do anything?”
She shrugged helplessly: “I guess not. We can start to use less plastics. But I thought we were already doing that, recycling and all. We could ask others to use less plastics too. But how to go about that? Most of these plastics are produced and used in Asia. We can’t even influence our neighbour’s behaviour, what influence can we have on Chinese consumers? We produce over 200 million ton of plastic every year!”

“Two hundred million thousand kilo’s of plastic, every year again…” I tried to imagine the number in my head, but my head was too small for such a big number. When things become bigger than our heads, we tend to either not believe them, or to ignore them because we can’t grasp them anyway.

I remember the days that we both went scubadiving in Indonesia and in Thailand. The saphire blue sea in Malaysia, pristine beaches with hardly a snippet of plastic in sight. My nephew told me a rather different story when he last visited Mindanao in North Sulawesi. I don’t believe I could stomach to see the massive pollution he reportedly observed there. “There is no way we can stop this,” I must concede, “but just think how incredible it would be if we could just create that little bit of awareness, if we could help just a little bit, a little push in the right direction…wouldn’t that be a great achievement already?”

“You’re dreaming,” she said. “But it is not as if I wouldn’t want to do something. I would love to do something. But what?” She wheeled her arms in front of her face. “How to make a difference?”

I could imagine hundreds of people read the same article on plastics, or a few thousands of people watch a documentary about it. And they would all feel just like we do right now. Outraged and helpless. And I realise that it wouldn’t change a thing. Even if you would reach a hundred thousand people, or a million, it wouldn’t make a difference. Because they would all be just as hopelessly dependent on these plastics for their everyday life as we are ourselves. We type these messages on plastic keyboards, that sit on a plastic table, connected to plastic cables into a plastic electric socket, while seated in plastic chairs on plastic floors in plastic houses. Of course we will be killed by plastics. Our planet is smothered in it. This is utterly hopeless!

I became very gloomy now. So this is how we will end? Plastinated corpses, like those in Von Hagen’s Körperwelten beautiful but imagesmacabre displays? So, now we better become vegetarians, and then we better stop drinking water, and finally we can’t eat anything anymore that is microfiltered and sterilized?  A gloom picture indeed.

But…is there nothing that can be done? We are able to destroy the world, but are we also able to save it from ourselves? We are capable of the most unimaginable atrocities, but we have also built cathedrals, we have landed people on the moon and little space crafts on speeding comets,  we have written music for angels and we have saved people from terrible diseases.

We have invented plastics and we can not dis-invent it. So the only way forward is in finding an innovative solution.

Can we now really not invent something to save us from plastics?  Whilst I have no idea about the answer, I simply refuse to think that there is no positive answer to this question.

And this is probably also how we should think about all these other gloomy things that have grown bigger than our heads. We have brains, let’s use them in a positive way.

“What if,” I started again, “we would not try to raise awareness about the problems surrounding us, but on the contrary, raise awareness about where possible solutions are to these problems?”

She smiled, leaned over and gave me a kiss. “And what if you and I would give that idea a deeper thought, with a nice cup of champagne, under our warm eiderdown blanket?” she whispered.

And we didn’t solve any questions that night and we didn’t save the planet.

But it made us think, and that is a start.

http://www.knack.be/nieuws/planet-earth/plasticsoep-is-grotere-bedreiging-voor-planeet-dan-klimaatverandering/article-normal-273759.html

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Sud-Food of Italy, Brugge

It has been a while since we tried a new restaurant in Bruges, so today we headed to the city centre to have lunch. We had booked a table for two in the small but cosy deli annex restaurant Sud (they only have 6 tables), with an Italian chef from Puglia in the kitchen. We chose the table in the back with a view of the garden and of the kitchen. The table was a bit wobbly, and the noises of the kitchen were a bit disturbing but not too much. They serve a daily changing set lunch menu: one starter and one main course, following the seasons, with mostly organic ingredients straight from Puglia, and home-made pastas. The menu costs 26 euro for both courses or 18 euro if you only take the main course. We took an excellent white wine by the glass from Puglia and some sparkling water. We received some small paprika’s stuffed with olives and anchovy, and small taralli with white wine as appetizers. Taralli’s look like mini bagels but with a whole different taste. I think I will look up the recipe and try to make them at home.

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As a first course we recieved seabass in pork bacon, in a sauce of potatoes and lemon, with fresh mozzarella from Puglia. It looked great and tasted just as good. They use fresh wholesome ingredients, and the appetizer was really original, a refreshing change from the usual standards served in most restaurants. The main course was home-made paccheri pasta, with pancetta and pork sausage, with fennel seeds, slightly spicy, but certainly not too much.

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We asked for a coffee to round it off, but were disappointed with the low quality of the coffee and the cappuccino that in this age of baristas did not even come close to a standard cappuccino, and would certainly not be served in Italy like that.

Restaurant Sud is definitely a very cosy place to spend lunch time. The owners are very friendly  and the food is definitely fresh and tasty, but I am afraid that 26 euro is overpriced for what you get. Or they have to upscale a bit on the decor and food, or lower the prices in accordance with what they serve.

Sud-Food of Italy, Mallebergplaats 5, Bruges 8000, Belgium, +32 50 344562

Valentine

Few days more ambiguous than Valentine’s day. Created for consumerism, its intents thinly veiled as to make it a special day for your ‘cherie amour’. A cunning trap, Valentine’s day. Do nothing and you don’t care, go along and you are a materialist.

We dreaded booking a restaurant  for the event. The Valentine’s special was going to be overpriced and underinspired, with every dish smothered in symbolism and aphrodisiacs hiding in all corners. Surely shellfish, and  asparagus daringly positioned, something with ginger and champagne sauce and  specks of truffel oil. Who knows what else.

Instead, we drove to Ostend, had a refreshing walk on the beach, cooled off in the silty breeze and then warmed up again over strong Irish coffee. Here I was, with my Valentine sitting right in front of me, her cheeks glowing from the cold morning air and flush from the Jameson whisky. I know I am a lucky man.

The Saturday fresh market was in full swing and it was brisk business as usual at “Luk’s”, arguably one of the best fishmongers in Flanders.  We got some fresh Zealand Oysters and lovely seabass. We asked for the heads and bones, to make a stock, but Luk shook his head; “too fat”, he said. “I have something better for you”, he then smiled and pushed two kilo’s of filleted turbot and plaice in a bag for us. Nothing can beat plaice for making a great fish stock!

We bought ognions, leek, carrots and some sweet pepperoni’s from the fresh market and finished our shopping spree with a fantastic looking heartshaped valentine’s cake (with meringue cream and topped with raspberries.)

We drove home to cook our own Valentine’s dinner that evening. Far away from the city lights, with Jolan and Kathlyn’s jolly chatter for background music and with a bottle of Moutardier champagne to toast on each other’s company.  A quick calculation told us the meal had cost us approximately fifteen euro’s per person. Cheap when compared to the fifty something we would surely have spent in town. Cheap yet priceless. Every day again, and every day more than the last, I cherish the moments when I see the three people I love most on this earth so close to me.  And isn’t that what Valentine’s should be really about?

We finished the evening at the Bruges’ concert hall, where Jordi Saval slowly rocked us into a hypnotizing slumber with his old Celtic music, played on four-hundred year old instruments, a Gamba and a Celloviola. The wild party out, the table dancing, the glitter of limelight and the all night cocktails rave will be for another time.

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