Exciting news, Brussels, etc
Hi, my love.
It’s a rainy perfect Sunday here in Amsterdam. There’s exciting change/news here around these t-talks, but we’ll get to it later. Let’s talk first about yesterday.
I spent half of yesterday making a lemon poppyseed meringue pie for my dear friend Iris, who picked me up this morning for an adventure day. I don’t mean to brag, but I very much do mean to brag: Please feast your eyes on this unfiltered spectacular-ness.
I spent the other half of the day in absolute bliss thanks to a new friend named Wesley. Wesley, a brilliant photographer / musician, was connected to us through my queen friend Danya (who I believe subscribes to this? If so, Hey, Danya!). Over outdoor coffees this week, Wesley told José and me about a store in Amsterdam called Tijn’s Toko.
He told us about Tijn’s Toko because, according to him, they sold kosher salt.
I know this might seem like a wild sentence to you. But I have been here for ten full ass months. I have SCOURED this city for kosher salt. And it is nowhere. So when Wesley told me this, I held back my shrieks. But I made a note.
Tijn’s Toko. Whenever possible.
Yesterday it happened. I biked through the pouring rain and I found the most spectacular market I have ever seen.
When I entered Tijn’s Toko I could not hold back my shrieks. I don’t understand how, but somehow the owners/employees of Tijn’s Toko have stocked an entire market seemingly aimed solely at expats. They denied this allegation as I delightedly fawned over their merchandise. But it is the truth.
There is all purpose flour. There is kosher salt. There are LUCKY CHARMS. Dominos confectioner’s sugar. Cheetos. Ziploc freezer bags, another wild thing I can’t find here. Here is a photo of one of my baskets, because I have no video of me just losing it in Tijn’s Toko.
Now. We’ve talked pie. We’ve talked about my face looking like the Lucky Charms guy. Time for the change.
(A small change.)
(I’ve always had a little trouble with change, myself, if I’m being honest.)
(But I’m excited about this one?!)
(A little nervous. And excited.)
For almost a year I’ve been exploring this new way of communicating with you. And it has been the best. Taalitalk has brought me the joy, real connection, and creative expression I’ve been missing from social media more or less since social media was invented. Taalitalk has allowed me to work through things with you, grow, write and record this album.
It started on a whim, and has grown to something big and beautiful and life sustaining for me. Along the way many of you have asked me if you could financially support. I always maintained my answer as no, because honestly I’ve always had a lot of trouble valuing my creative work.
(But hey! I’m changing! You know this!)
So as of today the answer is now a joyful yes: You can indeed financially contribute here.
You can do so at $5/month or $55/year. Or, if you think, “Man, taalitalk is great fun and I’m kind of financially killing it so I want to give more than $55/year” you can too, as what Substack fancily calls a “founding member.”
(V Fancy Shmance.)
This basically means you get to choose - founding member allows for anything more than $55 a year at your discretion.
You can do any of these options via this fancy button below.
Either way, our relationship will stay exactly the same. There won’t be any promised perks or anything, though who knows maybe I’ll throw some in if I’m feeling spicy. But whether you subscribe or not, you’ll still get these same taalitalks every week. I believe, due to a feature on Substack, that this new change will mean you can’t comment unless you have a subscription. Please email back to this if that causes a problem for you - I’m happy to gift you a subscription and would much rather do so than miss your voice with us here.
I’m grateful for the community we have built together here, and excited to take this little step with you towards valuing my work. I feel good about it. Almost as good as this thumbs up guy in Liège the other day.
(Liège was excellent, by the way.)
Even more excellent, though, was that I got to book our travel in and out of Belgium. This meant I got us a very late train out of Brussels so that I could spend the entire day in that city.
Because here’s the thing about Brussels: It is the BEST.
When I say the best, I’m not messing around with you. Whomever created Brussels, whenever they did it, I’m pretty sure they said, “What exact city would taali love the absolute most on the planet of earth? Yeah. Let’s make that.”
(In a ridiculous twist of fate I just looked up when Brussels was founded, and the internet told me what is CLEARLY THE TRUTH below):
Brussels was definitely not founded in 2015, though that was the first time I ever saw it and I am tickled that the internet wanted to support my t-talk claim. If you actually scroll through that article the answer is that Brussels was founded in the year 980. Thanks, folks of both 2015 and 980, you knocked it out the park.
Brussels has, for example, a tiny absolutely perfect store that sells ONLY postcards and vintage movie posters. It is called Avec Plaizier. I didn’t grab a photo this time because I was too busy burning through my bank account, but here is one I stole from a site called Visit Brussels. I feel like they wouldn’t mind my theft because of the title of their site.
Two buildings away from Avec Plaizier is some of my favorite Lebanese food in Europe. They have a little covered corner garden where José and I dined as it poured above us.
Then you can stroll up another block and go to a delicious coffee shop. That also doubles as a plant store!? Because Brussels was made in 980/2015 for me.
And then, of course, there is the city center / Grand Place. The first time I saw the Grand Place was in 2015, aka when Brussels was founded.
Little t went bananas. I didn’t know her too well yet, and honestly I think it was one of the first times I really met her. I had been all over Europe at that point, but this was the first city that looked like the Disney castles of my childhood dreams. When I showed it to my 8 year old stepdaughter, she too had the same reaction. I can’t wait to take her there some day for real.
It is completely impossible to capture the Grand Place with an iPhone camera, but I stole this photo from a site called Focus on Belgium. I feel like they wouldn’t mind my theft because of the title of their site.
Can you even believe it?! Here is a photo José took of me there this week. Though you can’t see the buildings, my face looks exactly the same as it looks every time I’m there.
Takes my breath away. Every fracking time.
The Gran Place is great. Magnificent, in fact.
But the absolute best part of Brussels. More than the chocolate. More than the golden buildings. More, even, than the postcard store.
Is that Brussels has the hands down the best thrift on the entire planet of earth.
(I get it.)
(I’m an excitable broad.)
(I throw around hyperbole quite a bit, and I get real hyped about things.)
But this is not a joke. I am willing to throw down and/or die on this hill. I have been to over 40 countries on this earth, and I stand by my statement: Brussels has the best thrift on the planet of earth.
It has been a lean year, so I couldn’t go the full haul I used to (aka if we had a tour that included Brussels I used to bring an entire empty suitcase). But I did pick up a glorious swede vintage coat for a cool 20(!) euros(!), pictured below in one of my favorite horizontal trees in Amsterdam.
Though someone defaced said tree, I’ll forgive them if only because it translates from Dutch into English as “I love you.”
And I really do feel that way. I’m so grateful we’ve been here almost a year together, growing and connecting and all the good things. See you next week.