Huize Buiten Westen
‘Oh god, it’s boiling over!’
Pesto rosso à la Huize Buiten Westen (with tomato and pepper)
Cherry tomatoes, halved
White onions, diced
Pasta (whatever shape you want)
Red pesto (and an accidental jar of red pepper pesto)
Boil the pasta according to the instructions. Fry some chorizo in a pan, adding the onion. In a second pan, boil the spinach until it’s shrunk. Throw away any remaining water. Add the crème fraiche and red pesto to the spinach and add pepper, salt, chilli pepper and paprika to taste.
‘Would you like a beer?’ senior resident Fleur yells from upstairs. She’s standing at the top of the stairs in the monumental building that houses Huize Buiten Westen. The house is impressively large and five out of the eight residents have their own kitchen. Even so, the shared kitchen is still roomy.
The groceries are all that is on the kitchen counter. At the small stove, Esther and Melle are minding three big pots: one with pasta, one with sauce, and one with chorizo. ‘We were going to make pasta pesto at first’, Fleur explains, ‘but we thought that would be a bit boring. So now it’s pasta rosso.’
While half the house’s residents are hard at work in the kitchen, the rest are out on the roof terrace, waiting for dinner. Emma is painting her nails, while Josien and Koen are enjoying a beer. The roof terrace is littered with beer bottles with straws sticking out. Tim is the only roommate who isn’t here tonight: he’s on a dinner date, dressed like James Bond. He even brought a water gun. ‘I filled it with beer’, Josien reveals.
The roof terrace has been decorated with string lights and plants everywhere. ‘I promise they’re still alive’, says Emma. ‘They may look dead, but that’s because winter’s only just ended.’ They even have a ‘real’ olive tree, says Koen, grinning. ‘One night, we hung olives on pieces of string from a tree and one roommate actually believed it was an olive tree.’
The residents of Huize Buiten Westen get together for dinner and drinks every Tuesday. Attendance isn’t mandatory, but it is preferred, Daan explains. Nevertheless, ‘it’s probably for the best that we don’t have a common room’, says Koen. ‘Otherwise, people would keep offering me a beer when I’m trying to study.’
Today was Chore Day. Emma says it was a good idea in theory, but didn’t quite work in practice. Josien: ‘Half the people in the house were hungover, and the other half didn’t feel like doing anything.’
‘Something went wrong’, Fleur announces as she comes up to the roof terrace. Instead of buying two jars of pesto rosso, whoever did the groceries bought one jar of rosso and one jar of pesto with peppers. She’s certain the dish is completely ruined. ‘It’s still red pesto, but there aren’t any tomatoes.’ Should they pop down to the supermarket? After all, the house is right above an Albert Heijn. It’s very convenient, and not just for groceries, says Emma. ‘We only have to carry crates of beer up a single staircase.’
‘Oh no, it’s boiling over’, Fleur yells when she’s back in the kitchen. ‘Melle! You know how to cook pasta, right?’ She takes the pan off the stove with her bare hands and tastes the pasta. ‘Oh wait, it’s actually perfect’, she corrects herself. ‘Told you so’, says Melle. No need to go to the Albert Heijn, then.
‘Since when do we have coasters?’ Daan says laughing when the table is being set. During dinner, the conversation reveals the roommates are friends, as well. They’ve got plans together this weekend: they’re going to Moddergat, a place none of them have ever heard of.
The conversation continues. They talk about the naked guy who was wandering the hallway one morning, looking for the bathroom. ‘I told him to put on some clothes, but he didn’t care’, says Fleur. They talk about the handyman who couldn’t get into the house and whether a shopping trolley from the supermarket downstairs would make a good flower pot.
In spite of the unexpected ingredients in the sauce, the residents of Buiten Westen are actually quite happy with the meal. If it had been truly atrocious, they would’ve just ordered pizza. So what’s for dessert? Koen holds up his beer. ‘I’ve got dessert right here!’