Tuesday

The collapsing feeling of self-publishing

[Note: I tried giving this article away. One particular place, the *blog* of the Queensland Writer's Centre —  that is, a centre supporting writers — passed on it. Now, if you can't get a blog to accept your work, then you've been insulted. I present it below for you instead.]

The publishing industry has changed, but very little has changed. Maybe I should be more specific and say the publishing process has changed, that the overall model of what's possible has opened up so that it's both more accessible and cheaper to produce books — especially outside of the regular old channels — in digital or print. Anyone can get into the magic of books; which is a minor revolution, I'd say.

But what hasn't changed? Look at the bookshop window displays: lots of colourful books; lots of diversity. If you think about it, the books on display and reviewed in newspapers, journals and magazines are still largely, or rather almost all, representative of the standard publishing model. By which I mean the large (consolidated, international) publishing houses and the medium trade presses, the industry players.

The window display — our window on publishing — says the industry is healthy because there's so much great stuff being produced. There's familiar and prize-winning authors, authors who can't not get published; there's non-fiction and biographies by the dozen, profile-leveraging tie-ins, young adult and bright fantasy. Now and then there's a renegade success story, a blockbuster everyone reads on planes or whenever they're not looking at their phone, because everyone else is reading it.

Sunday

Apple pie

So, what cuisine is specifically Dutch? I would argue (cynically, exhaustively) that there isn't any such thing - that isn't somewhat Germanic or even Flemish in influence or source. On the latter score I'd indicate the rich assortment of condiments applied to fries - I'm sure chips & mayo is Flemish, as is chips and chilli sauce and mayo, but then, perhaps exceptionally, chips and satay sauce isn't. OK, I'd make a concession, chips AND mayo AND satay sauce is perhaps uniquely Dutch: 'patatje oorlog' (chips war) is a unique achievement for which the former Dutch occupation of Indonesia may have played a minor causal, historical role. For anyone traveling to Holland, I'd say head to the nearest 'friet tent' and get your hands on a serve of this truly authentic culinary wonder. It's a flavourgasm.
By which preamble to say: the real test of Dutch food is apple pie (appeltaart). Almost any cafe in Holland serves and prides itself on its apple pie. Even train station restaurants, even the Hema department store. Sit down, order coffee and pie (koffie met gebak; there's usually a combo price), and dig into the true taste. House-made? Fresh? Not too soggy? Not too sweet or laden with cinnamon or sultanas? Evenly cooked, finely textured all the way through? A good match with cream? Does the pastry dough have good mouth-feel? Do you want a second piece, and is the view and the setting nice? Is there some vaguely German oompah music playing in the background somewhere...
That's how you get the real cuisine, methinks.