Amsterdam: Part V

This is either the penultimate or antepenultimate of my posts on Amsterdam, as I’m now in Belgium. First, of course, comes food: lunch at the Cafe Sonneveld, highly rated for Dutch food. The proportion of tourists in cafes like this is high, perhaps because the touristy part of Amsterdam as compared to, say, Paris, is small, concentrating the visitors in a restricted area. Or perhaps it’s because the Dutch don’t go out to eat Dutch food since it’s not hard to make at home. Regardless, I care much less about foreign diners than I do about good food.

And this place has it.

Shrimp krokets. The Dutch kroket is a culinary staple, and these, served piping hot with aioli and either rocket or dandelions greens (you tell me), were excellent, stuffed with shrimp:

Another Dutch dish, offered only on Thursdays at this place: Kapucijners Schotel,  translated by my computer as “marrowfat dish”. It contains marrow beans, fried onions, bacon, and a huge honking meatball (these spheroids seem ubiquitous), as well as pickles, pickled onions, and a mustard dressing. It also tastes like it contains chili powder, and one could think of this as Dutch chili. It was very good and incredibly filling.

Spareribs served with a salad and three kinds of sauce:

A peaceful canal scene:

It’s a bit early to see the big fields of tulips, but they are starting to bloom. The Flower Market, touristy but still full of lovely flowers, is the place to see embryonic and young tulips.

Some bulbs sprouting:

Lots of bulbs for sale.  Many of you may know of the “Tulip Mania” that struck the Netherlands in the 1630s, inflating prices rapidly and then ending in the bursting of the speculative bubble in 1637. Wikipedia notes that “at the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsworker.”

Most of the tulips were in bulb form, but there were some flowers on sale:

And of course I had to visit the KattenKabinet, a fancy canal house that has been converted into a museum of all things cat: photos, posters, sculptures, geegaws, and the like, as well as four living cats who roam the grounds. You get the pleasure of seeing the inside of a very fancy house (ca. 1667) located on the ritzy Gouden Bocht (“Golden Bend”) of the Herengracht canal, as well as seeing gazillions of cat-related objects.

A real cat cabinet at the entrance:

Some of the drawings and posters are quite rare and valuable, including works by by Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt (see below), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Teniers, Corneille, Sal Meijer, Théophile Steinlen (including his famous “Black Cat” cabaret poster, and Jože Ciuha.

Here’s a real Rembrandt etching with a cat 2/3 of the way down on the left margin. “Virgin and Child with a Cat” (1654) is the only Rembrandt cat I know of, but there may be more. Wikipedia says this:

This print shows a homely scene of maternal affection but it is also a powerful piece of Christian symbolism. While the cat on the left is playing with the Virgin’s hem, a snake can be seen slithering out from under her skirt.

I don’t know who “The Cat Man” is, but he’s a precursor of Angry Cat Man, my alter ego:

From Cat Man to Cat fans:

Cats being serviced by primates at a barber shop, as they should be. This is “Barber’s shop with monkeys and cats by Abraham Teniers (1629-1670); date of painting unknown:

I believe this was called “The Punishment”, but its subject is beyond me, and I can’t quite make out the artist (help needed here, as with the painting above).

A nice tile tabletop:

Lenin was an ailurophile, which puts some of us in a dilemma:

This painting of a cat lording it over a dead mallard also causes me cognitive dissonance:

The living room of the Cat Cabinet house, opening onto a back garden. You can see that behind the relatively plain facades of the canal houses lie opulent digs. Also notice the live cat on the windowsill. The owner of the house, and creator of the KattenKabinet, is still alive and lives upstairs.

Oscar, one of the resident cats:

Formal portrait of Oscar:

I give fusses to Oscar:

A lovely Art Deco-ish building in central Amsterdam: the Amsterdam City Archives: the largest city archives in the world. The building, “De Bazel,” is said to be an example of “Brick Expressionism,” and was built between 1919 and 1926.

Looks Art Deco to me:

The Art Nouveau American Hotel, built from 1898-1900.

. . . and its interior coffeeshop:

In the American Hotel is a prominent picture of Holland’s royalty, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. The Dutch seem to like them, and their duties seem minimal. They earn salaries and expenses: Wikipedia reports that “for 2017 the stipends were; for the King €888,000, for Queen Maxima €352,000 and for Princess Beatrix (former Queen) €502,000. These personal stipends are in addition to an allowance for each of those named to meet official expenditure, these were set at €4.6million for the King, €606,000 for Queen Maxima and just over €1million for Princess Beatrix.”

That’s a lot of dosh! I had my picture taken with the royals, but my finger, meant to point at the pair, unfortunately pointed at Willem-Alexander’s groinal region. I assure you that this was an accident.

Finally, I was brave enough to essay a raw herring! I couldn’t call my visit to Amsterdam complete until I had at least sampled this famous Dutch snack. Here’s the local herring stall where I bought one. It’s quite popular, as you see:

I had it plain, served with pickles and chopped onions, and topped with a Dutch flag.

It wasn’t bad, actually, sort of like a slightly fishier salmon, with the fishiness palliated by the onions and pickles. That said, I think this will be my once-in-a-lifetime herring experience, regardless of what the Dutch doctors say about the fish. . .



  1. merilee
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    So lovely to see those tulips! We’ve got an inch of snow this morning…
    At least the mallard-eating cat actually looks like a cat.

    • rickflick
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      But, the duck doesn’t look much like a mallard. It looks like an accurate depiction of some other species which I will not guess.

  2. Posted March 31, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Nice. I hope this is your antepenultimate post, because you don’t see too many “antepenultimate” things these days! I hitchhiked a zig-zag across Belgium last spring (and nicked the corner of Netherlands around Maastricht). Lovely people from all over!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      So you’re not antiantepenultimate.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t the next one over called perantepenultimate?

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Oof – pre not per.

        • Posted March 31, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

          Nicely formed neologism, ThyroidPlanet. But I suspect this thread may be getting on Jerry’s nerves (or on his “last nerve” as we say in the South) … or at least on his preantepenultimate nerve …

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink


  3. quiscalus
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Perhaps someone could enlighten me, but what exactly is the different between the usual (garden variety, if you will) tulips and what are called “Darwin Tulips”, and are they called that in honor of Charles?

    and I’m so jealous of your trip, I’m making a vegetarian version of Snert tonight.

    • Nobody Special
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      An assumption, but possibly just a variey of tulip named for him. It’s most commonly seen with specimen roses, many of which are named for famous people.

    • dvandivere
      Posted April 1, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      If you mean the difference between single color and multicolored tulips? It’s a virus!

      The Darwin tulip is one of the most common multicolored tulips, but is just one of thousands and thousands of varieties. It is indeed named for him.

      And this week is the tulip festival in Amsterdam

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Graffiti appears to be embraced by the kiosk owner. I can say this is not limited to Amsterdam.

  5. Joe Dickinson
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Is the royal family still the House of Orange? We happened to be there a few years ago on Queen’s Day. Orange everywhere. On herring: one of the herring stands that my wife tried (I don’t do raw herring) had a resident herring heron (Europeans call it the grey heron but it is basically the same as America’s great blue heron) that hung around and tried to beg or pilfer samples. My wife caved.

    • Posted March 31, 2019 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, House of Orange.

      I would totally have fed herring to the heron!

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted April 1, 2019 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      “…basically the same as America’s great blue heron”

      They are two different species _ Ardea herodias (Great blue heron) and Ardea cinerea (grey heron). The grey heron is slightly smaller and whiter looking, without the brown colouring found on the GB Heron. The two species are very similar, though, both in appearance and ecology.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 1, 2019 at 1:18 am | Permalink

        Can they interbreed?

    • dvandivere
      Posted April 1, 2019 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      Yes, the house of Orange (as in the city in southern France). And it’s King’s Day now…

  6. Mark R.
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Good food, architecture, tulips and cats- what’s there not to love!?

    Have fun in Belgium. Have you read King Leopold’s Ghost yet? He was quite the villain.

    • Posted March 31, 2019 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I read it on a reader’s recommendation, and it was very good, though not speaking well of turn of the century Belgium!

      • Mark R.
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        I have about 75 pages left. It’s a great read, and yes, does not speak well of turn of the century Belgium.

    • Alexander
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Not only Leopold II, also the Catholic Church (as happened as well in Spain under Franco, and in Germany under Hitler) supported the criminals:

      “It is a history in which the Catholic Church was always a key player, starting in colonial times. Congolese human rights lawyer Pascal Kambale sees the roots of the church’s prominent role in the country’s distant past when the Congo was the property of the Belgian King Leopold II: “The king could not rely on the Belgian administration to run the country. So he outsourced the day-to-day administration to different Catholic congregations.” This gave the church a “political clout that it doesn’t have in many other countries,” Kambale told DW.”

      And the Catholic organisations apparently did a job:

      The Congo Free State in central Africa was privately con¬
      trolled by Leopold II of Belgium who extracted a fortune
      from the land by the use of forced labor of natives. Under
      his regime there were 2 to 15 million deaths among the
      Congolese people. 1271128112911301 Deliberate killings, abu¬
      sive punishments, and general exploitation were major
      causes of the deaths. As in the colonization of the Amer¬
      icas, new diseases hitherto unknown in the region, also
      led to a considerable number of deaths. Because the main
      motive for the killings was financial gain, it has been de¬
      bated whether the term genocide describes these atrocities
      well; however, Robert Weisbord wrote in the Journal of
      Genocide Research in 2003 that attempting to eliminate a
      portion of the population is enough to qualify as genocide
      under the UN convention. 1301 Reports of the atrocities led
      to a major international scandal in the early 20th century,
      and Leopold was ultimately forced in 1908 by the Belgian
      government to relinquish control of the colony to the civil
      administration. 13 111321

      Fortunately Catholicism has lost its influence in Belgium.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Pretty typical of the Catholic Church. And some dingbats complain that the Church does so much good it should be respected and encouraged!

      • Mark R.
        Posted April 1, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        Thanks for this added information. No surprise, though some missionaries (mostly British and American) did recount many of the atrocities, and through many photos made the brutality all the more real.

  7. Posted March 31, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    The canal scene is beautiful!

    So are the tulips. I hope none of them are affected by viruses; I was disappointed to learn that the beautiful variegation in the petals of some of them was produced by infection.

    • dvandivere
      Posted April 1, 2019 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Pretty much all tulips that are mutlicolored have that virus. It’s naturally occurring, though.

  8. rustybrown
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Are you familiar with the artist Karel Appel? There’s a lot of his work in Amsterdam, as he’s from there. Great stuff, you might like.

    • rustybrown
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      He does some cats!

  9. Posted March 31, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I love this place…. a dream existing in netherland. Still remember the filafel sandwich…

  10. Posted March 31, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    The herring looked good to me. We used to have a high-end Swedish restaurant nearby. During December, they featured a Smorgasbord with an entire table full of different herring preparations. They were very good but there’s only so much herring one can eat at a sitting.

    I’m looking forward to your Belgium reports as I expect to be there in a couple of weeks.

  11. Posted March 31, 2019 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Oh- I want a visit to the Cat Cabinet! Oscar looks adorable. That food looks utterly delicious too.

    The cats have just reminded me- will there ever be a reader cat-posting opportunity again? Because I have a gorgeous picture of my little cat Molly and I’m looking out for any opportunities to share and get some appreciation for her!

    • Posted April 1, 2019 at 12:49 am | Permalink

      Yes, I have been thinking of one for a while. And I still have to award a prize for those who donated to Feline Friends London.

    • Alexander
      Posted April 1, 2019 at 1:33 am | Permalink

      When I was a student in Utrecht, I had a room with a landlady who had about 20 cats. When I came home late at night, I had to climb a steep staircase, and all the cats were sleeping on the steps, occupying all of them, and I had to watch not to step on any tails. I couldn’t switch on the light because the landlady left her bedroom door open (where she slept with her ex-husband in the same bed–they never said a word to each other). The landlady was nice however, and brought me every morning a cup of coffee in my room. As soon she left I started picking out the cat hairs…

      The address was the Da Costakade, and to my amazement I came across a poem entitled “De katten van de Da Costakade” by a well-known Belgian poet. It described exactly the staircase with the cats.

      • Posted April 1, 2019 at 7:01 am | Permalink

        What a wonderful story!

      • rickflick
        Posted April 1, 2019 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Sounds like the opening paragraph of a novel. Keep going!

  12. Hunt
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    So we’re not going to talk about “The Punishment? lol.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted April 1, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Weird painting , it say S Lapre but could not find more info about it.

      • mvanbellinghen
        Posted April 9, 2019 at 7:25 am | Permalink

        The Punishment painting is by the Italian surrealist painter Stanislao Lepri and is titled “Punizione”.

  13. Nobody Special
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    PCC(E), dandelion greens are exactly that, the leaves of dandelions. Incidentally, my favourite soft drink is dandelion & burdock, the perfect use of two common weeds.

    • Posted April 1, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      In some parts of the world, used for lunar new year.

  14. BJ
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I find it very hard to read these posts because they always make me so jealous 😦 But I’m glad you’re having a great time.

  15. Posted March 31, 2019 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Those sure look like wild arugula greens (rockets).

  16. mik
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Outstanding photography as usual. And those ribs…they look like they just came out of a central Texas smokehouse.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    … “for 2017 the stipends were; for the King €888,000, for Queen Maxima €352,000 and for Princess Beatrix (former Queen) €502,000 …”

    I dunno, maybe the distaff portion of the Dutch royal family oughta have a little chat with American icon Lilly Ledbetter.

    • rickflick
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 10:09 pm | Permalink


    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted April 1, 2019 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      What were the stipends received by Beatrix and her husband when she was the Queen?

  18. Posted March 31, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    The unknown artist for the 2 cats and the nude woman is I.M. Keef. The name of the painting seems to be ‘KattenCabinet’.

    • mvanbellinghen
      Posted April 2, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      I dont think so. The painting is by the Italian surrealist painter Stanislao Lepri and originally titled “Punizione”. No?

  19. Debbie Coplan
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I loved seeing the whole adventure. Now I know where to go if I ever get over there.
    What a great cat Oscar is. He doesn’t mind being picked up and cuddled.

  20. Posted March 31, 2019 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Think of it as Dutch sushi. Although I’d prefer those pickles and onions on a hot dog.

  21. Heather Hastie
    Posted March 31, 2019 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    All the posts of Amsterdam are so wonderful in the true meaning of the word. I’ve enjoying them all very much.

    I’ve never been lucky enough to go to Europe, though I’ve wanted to since I was a young child.

    • rickflick
      Posted March 31, 2019 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

      “I’ve never been lucky enough to go to Europe”
      You definitely should go. But, vicariously through Professor Ceiling Cat ain’t bad.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 1, 2019 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        I’d be off like a shot if I had the money. And it would take more money than it would for most people because I can’t travel Economy class because of my back, and someone has to go with me to help. (My mother would love do go too! She has been a couple of times, and loves it.)

        • rickflick
          Posted April 1, 2019 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

          That’s unfortunate. Then reports via Ceiling Cat (and others) will have to do. That’s better than nothing. I’ve been to Europe a few times and had a really great time. The sense of history is everywhere and it so much missing in the US of God damned A.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted April 2, 2019 at 12:25 am | Permalink

            Vicarious is better than nothing, and Jerry does a good job.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 1, 2019 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Heather, you really should go to Europe for a trip.

      Check out the air fares on Expedia or similar, and check out the accommodation on or similar. It’s way more affordable than you might think.

      And also, train travel in Europe is quite affordable. Like air fares, if you book well in advance, you can get very much cheaper fares. is full of good advice on booking trains.

      Rental cars too, can vary a lot in price depending where you pick them up and how you book them.

      You can do all this through the Internet now, no need to go to a travel agent unless you want some sort of package tour.

      If you have the time, planning your own trip is half the fun.


  22. mvanbellinghen
    Posted April 2, 2019 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    The Punishment painting is by the Italian surrealist painter Stanislao Lepri and is titled “Punizione”. So I think.

%d bloggers like this: