Old China Hands 4 December

Full house

Our lunch for Old China Hands 4 December saw a full house with a total of 38, while two could not show up, otherwise we were 40.
Good to see a few of the missing members who made it back to Beijing.

Our friend Kent again surprised us with his culinary skills, bring deserts for all of us, cannoli and Apple strudel. Well done!
Cannoli: see here the details of the Italian pastry dessert: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannoli. Not to be confused with the Italian pasta dish, cannelloni.
Apple strudel (German: Apfelstrudel): see here the details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_strudel.

Next lunch

As 1 January 2021 is a Friday, the lunch will be exceptionally on Friday 8 January.
Chef Renaat has kept the very low price for the set lunch in 2020 but he will have to increase the price to RMB 130, the normal price being 148 (without coffee or tea) and we also get a coffee extra, value 28.
Happy Holidays to all and see you in 2021!

Rotary Beijing in action

Rotaract Club of Beijing

Rotary Beijing in action, also includes our Rotaract Clubs. The West club is still struggling as most of its members are unable to return to China and many universities impose restrictions for students to leave their campus. They do however organize regular online events.

Rotaract Club of Beijing

We did have a few meetings of the Sanlitun club, in Yard House (SOHO Sanlitun), like on 23 November.

Lunch in Kempinski

On 17 November the Rotary Club of Beijing had the regular Tuesday lunch in Kempinski.
Rtn Piper once again patiently explained the complex financing tools we have for our projects, the so-called Rotary Foundation and related.

We also welcomed a new member, our Belgian friend Benoit who is an IP specialist. He is also a member of my “Old China Hands Lunch”.

Dinner at Morel’s

Once per month we have a dinner instead of the usual lunch.
Again we could welcome a speaker, our new member Benoit who refreshed our knowledge of IP. Yes, all that complicated stuff of patents, etc. Think about all the fake GUCCI, Red Label and other on the market here… China being the champion of fakes… despite the clampdown by the authorities.

“Intellectual property rights are legal rights that provide creators protection for original works, inventions, or the appearance of products, artistic works, scientific developments, and so on. There are four types of intellectual property rights (IP): patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.”

Not to be confused with IP address… “IP address stands for internet protocol address; it is an identifying number that is associated with a specific computer or computer network. When connected to the internet, the IP address allows the computers to send and receive information.”

Another nice dinner by Morel’s Restaurant!

What is peperkoek

Peperkoek – ontbijtkoek – kruidkoek

So, what is peperkoek?
Some translate peperkoek as gingerbread or spiced cake or honey cake; pain d’épices (au miel).

According to Wikipedia :
An ontbijtkoek (literally translated breakfast cake) or peperkoek (pepper cake) is a Dutch and Flemish spiced cake. Rye is its most important ingredient, coloring the cake light brown. It is often spiced with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, succade and nutmeg. Several parts of the Netherlands have their own local recipe, of which the most famous is oudewijvenkoek (old woman’s cake)[citation needed], which is mostly eaten in the northern regions, and is flavored with aniseed. Ontbijtkoek is traditionally served at breakfast with a thick layer of butter on top, as a replacement for bread, however, due to its sweet taste it is also served as a snack. It is best eaten the day after it is baked.

And: https://www.196flavors.com/netherlands-ontbijtkoek-peperkoek/

What is onbijtkoek?
Onbijtkoek, or peperkoek, is a traditional baked cake of Flemish and Dutch origin. This spice bread is made from rye flour, all-purpose flour, milk, honey, black molasses and brown sugar. It has a fairly dense texture and a dark brown coloration due to the presence of rye flour.
Very flavorful, it contains many spices: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, vanilla and anise.
Across the Netherlands and parts of Belgium, there are many varieties of ontbijtkoek available in stores. Some contain candied fruit, ginger or even nuts and are sprinkled with pearl sugar.

In the north of the Netherlands, the local variant is called oudewijvenkoek, which can be translated to “cake of old women”. It is very similar to ontbijtkoek, the particularity of oudewijvenkoek being that it is more flavored with anise.
Another version is called kroninger koek, and for its part contains pieces of candied lemons.
Finally, Deventer koek, which takes its name from its origins in the city of Deventer, is traditionally flavored with bitter orange.

I love it

While I must be careful with sugar and carbs, I love my peperkoek, having two slices for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, with butter. My preferred brands are Meli (not the one with pearl sugar on top), see their famous Honingkoek (couque au miel) (https://www.meli.be/producten/honingkoek) and Vondelmolen.


My Dutch friends satisfy my craving by bringing the Dutch versions such as Bolletje and Peijnenburg; they come is nice plastic containers I use for the Belgian ones. The taste is different but they are very nice too.

As for now it has not been accepted by Chinese customers, the general reaction is “too sweet”. A bit strange as some Chinese deserts, sweet and snacks are nearly pure sugar. Maybe they should try them with afternoon tea and with butter!

What is witloof

Very Belgian

In a previous post I explained what is witloof. Now more about its history; discover variants such as groenlof en roodlof (sorry, explanations in Dutch only). Both groenlof and roodlof are closely related to witloof. A reader alerted me about those! (thanks)

Where witloof was created

See: http://www.witloof.ca/what.html

Witloof is known in other parts of the world and languages as: Endive, Belgian Endive, French Endive, Witlof, Witloof Chicory, Chicory, Chicon, and Endivia.

The most popular history behind the discovery of Witloof is of a Belgian farmer living near Brussels around 1830 having stored some chicory roots in his cellar, intended to possibly use them later as a coffee substrate. He came to retrieve them at a later time only to discover white shoots coming out of the head of the root due to the climate conditions in the cellar, which he then tried to eat and found edible.

What Is fact?
Between 1850 and 1851, the head overseer of the Botanical Gardens in Brussels, Monsieur Brezier, developed methods to grow the chicory shoots out of the roots using darkness, warmth, and humidity.  Darkness was essential in producing the white leaves, aka “wit loof”, since the plant doesn’t produce chlorophyll (the green leaf colouring) without light. The crop was first sold on the Brussels market in 1867 and later in 1883 in the Halls of Paris. The witloof crop became bigger and more closed over time as growing techniques improved and better varieties were developed. Today, witloof is a very common European vegetable whereas in many other areas of the world it is still considered a niche product.

Groenlof and roodlof

From the Internet, the  description in Dutch:
Groenlof (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum) is een bladgroente die het midden houdt tussen witlof en andijvie. Het is vooral geschikt voor de najaarsteelt. Groenlof vormt langwerpige kroppen die een milde smaak hebben. Deze groente kan zowel rauw als gekookt gegeten worden.

And other source: https://www.veggipedia.nl/groentenenfruit/groenlof

Groenlof is een bladgroente en behoort tot dezelfde plantensoort als witlof. De groente wordt ook wel suikerbrood genoemd. Dit verwijst naar een ander familielid, de chicorei wortel. Deze wortel wordt als suikervervanger gebruikt. De krop is groen aan de buitenkant en lichtgeel vanbinnen. De smaak ligt tussen die van witlof en andijvie in.
Ook wel genoemd: bladgroente, suikerij, suikerbrood.

Roodlof is een kruising tussen witloof en radicchio. Het heeft een zachte, zoete smaak. Roodlof kun je in salades of wok- en ovengerechten gebruiken.

Belgians in Beijing

Back to social life

Beijing being without doubt the safest place in the world, free of COVID-19, Belgians in Beijing have been getting together recently, with a social drink and with an official reception at the Belgian embassy.

“Belgians in Beijing”

The BiB had a successful social on 29 October 2020 in Groovy’s Schiller (the former Nearby The Tree), a lively chat over beer and food.

We are also looking forward not only to the revival of the BiB but also to the upcoming activities of Vlamingen in de Wereld, with its new Beijing delegate.

King’s Day

King’s Day is more or less considered as our “National Day” in locations such as Beijing as the real National Day is on 21 July when most people are away.
On 13 November 2020 the Belgian ambassador graciously invited the Belgian community to his residence for drinks and food. It was good to be back in the “old” embassy (actually now the Residence only), with the present “temporary” embassy in the Fort Knox building, a pretty unwelcoming location.

Food was by Renaat Morel, delicious and copious as always, drinks offered by the sponsors (Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Vedett and others).

The ambassador mentioned in his speech the absence of many of our compatriots. At least we had the Schtroumpfs to keep us company.

Very nice evening thanks to the mild winter temperature. Good to meet many familiar faces.