I walked past a high school. It was early in the morning. Five girls in school uniform were waiting for the doors to open. They were chatting and wiggled in an attempt to keep warm. A friend arrived. ‘You haven’t stopped smoking yet?!’ he said to one of the girls ‘Yes I have,’ the girl replied, ‘tomorrow’.
I ran a half marathon. Ten kilometers in one direction, and then the same way back. The man next to me yelled: ‘let’s go girl, you’re a champion!’ I followed his gaze and realized it wasn’t me he was cheering on. It was the girl who ran in last place. We had about seven kilometers to go, but she wasn’t even halfway yet. Behind the ambulance and the police car that followed her, volunteers were already cleaning up the circuit. The man knew she was losing the race, but was winning against herself.
I bought the ingredients for mushroom croquettes. On my way back I walked past an appliances store. The type of store you wonder how it can still exist. Behind the counter was a very old man. He was reading a newspaper. A tobacco pipe hung from the corner of his mouth. In the window stood two old fashioned alarm clocks. The round ones. Next to them an encouraging sign that said ‘no tick tock’.
Makes about 15 medium-sized croquettes
2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium size union, peeled and finely chopped
250 grams of (chestnut) mushrooms, finely chopped
A pinch of (freshly grated) nutmeg
1 bay leave
1 sprig of thyme
750 ml of vegetable stock
150 grams plain flour
About 250 grams of breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
Sunflower oil or peanut oil to fry the croquettes (enough to cover them)
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the union with a bit of salt over low heat until soft. Add the mushrooms, nutmeg , bay leave , thyme and some more salt and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Carefully stir in the flour and heat for about 2 minutes. Add about a quarter of the vegetable stock, stirring vigorously and constantly, and bring to boil. Little by little add the rest of the vegetable stock, continuing to stir constantly. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture has the consistency of a thick paste that comes away from the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Divide the breadcrumbs over 2 large plates. Beat the eggs lightly in a soup plate. Place the soup plate in between the two plates of breadcrumbs. If wou want you can rub your hand with olive oil to prevent the mushroom mixture from sticking to your hands. Take lumps of the mixture the size of two walnuts and shape them into oval balls. Drop the balls into the first plate of breadcrumbs. Roll them until they are well covered. Then roll them in the beaten egg, and in the second plate of bread crumbs. They should have a thick crust. You can freeze some of the croquettes after this step to save them for later. They should be completely defrosted before frying them.
To fry the croquettes, heat the oil in a large pan until it is medium hot (when you drop a piece of bread in the oil it should sizzle immediately, but should not turn dark quickly). Carefully drop the balls in the oil and fry for a few minutes, until lightly browned, turning them over ones. Work in batches to make sure the ball don’t stick to each other and the oil temperature doesn’t decrease too much by adding the cold croquettes. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. They are best when eaten straight away, but can be re-heated in the oven (160 degrees Celcius, 15 minutes).