the longer i live, the more intriguing the figure of my late father is getting… while preparing a card for this solstice a picture of my father in hawaii popped up, dressed in a suit like the one i am wearing occasionally… my first thought was that he, unintentionally and unconsciously, covered the footsteps of ranald macdonald in their entirety… which i did not… for logistical reasons, based on trade restrictions for cargo ships, my means of transport, josje and i were not able to visit hawaii in 2008 during our trip in the footsteps of macdonald… so, even in this respect my father was larger than me… a hero… still…

then, when browsing the web for different ways of celebrating the solstice, i read a story about frozen ears of the poor and the remedy a physician ordered in northern china some 1800 years ago… the distribution of dumplings in broth… the soup is called ‘ear soup’, because of the frozen ears and the ear shape of dumplings… and still is the preferred dish for this day in northern parts of china…

when my siblings and i were young, our father took us out of the compound whenever he was able to do so… after a roundtrip in the indonesian surroundings we always ended up in the same chinese restaurant where we went ‘snoepen’… a possible translation might be ‘where we went to relish’… we had plates of ‘saté babi, saté ajam, kikkerbilletjes en vuile oortjes’, as we called our favourites, chicken and pork satay, ‘little frog buttocks’, read frog legs, and ‘dirty little ears’, read fried wonton… this last name, we were told, referred to the ear shape of the dumplings and the ear being stuffed with ‘lekker vies’, ‘yummy dirt’, actually, well seasoned minced meat… whenever i am eating in a malay or indonesian restaurant, i order ‘vuile oortjes’ to start the meal…

my father, of course, did not know where the name ‘vuile oortjes’ originated… some ‘indo’ families, families of mixed dutch and indonesian descent, use it… so one of them might be the source for the use within our family… but now, at this very moment, i think that a remote chinese origin is not excluded… pangsit goreng, the indonesian name, is known to be chinese indonesian food…

anyway…

the solstice of 2016 will be for me the start of a new ritual… dirty little ears will be my plate of preference for the solstices to come… and who knows, some of you might be going to follow this example… in that case, bon appétit…

ps
i also stumbled upon the japanese ritual of bathing in ‘oranges’ on this day, 柚子湯… but that is another story… although, now that we are talking about it, my father loved a good japanese bath…