Tuesday, March 9, 2010
A prince among men ...
... are the four words that come to mind when I hear the name Clarence Seedorf.
On one of my particularly lazy Sunday afternoons, I happened to watch Fox Soccer Channel’s Nick Webster host a half-hour sports profile show. For the duration he interviewed this elegant, articulate, intelligent young man who wears the rossonero (red-black) jersey for Italy’s AC Milan football (soccer) club, and is one of their star midfielders. I do not recall the name of this interview program, and have never seen it again since but, I was in awe for that entire conversation.
Up until that time, I had only admired Clarence Seedorf from afar but I did always think that his is one of the most fantastic smiles of anyone on the planet. I had heard only positive things about him from my fellow world football fans, especially in Europe, and it always appeared that his teammates admired and respected him. He always impressed me as a world-class act. By now I am quite certain that he is exactly that.
A native of Suriname, he started playing professional soccer at age 16. He discussed with Nick Webster that sadly, when a teenager embarks on an international career that comes with a high-profile lifestyle, a healthy and successful future doesn’t always happen and certainly isn’t guaranteed. When asked how his own long-standing world-class career has been possible (he will be 34 on April 1), he shared that he has always balanced his professional demands with his commitments to health, fitness, spirituality and personal growth, and time with family and friends. He grew up with strong family values, and spoke lovingly of those he cherishes in his personal life. He and his wife Luviana have four children.
He actually comes from a family of world football players which include his brothers, nephew, and cousin. His father is a player agent. I once heard him asked the question, "Is football a big topic at family gatherings?" He laughed and shook his head to say something like, "No, no, there are far too many other things to talk about with family, we don't have time to discuss football!"
It fascinates me that he is of Dutch-African descent, grew up in the Caribbean, and has played football in Holland, Spain, and for many years in Italy. He speaks impeccable English and a host of other languages - all I trust, with equal grace and eloquence. His stellar career statistics, silverware, and list of awards which include 4 Champions League winner medals with 3 different clubs, have earned him the status as one of the finest living footballers in the world, per Pele' and FIFA.
His Children are our future philosophy has inspired his Champions for Children Foundation
"to help, educate, protect and support the conditions in which children and young people grow up in developing countries". The efforts of their good work will be especially directed toward countries ravaged by natural disaster, war, and economic hardship. Children will have opportunity quite possibly never offered before, to explore the arts, science, job education, sports, and much more, with the guidance of generous leaders inspired by his dream.
So in the event that he even has the time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa this summer, many of us wonder if Holland’s national team will be graced with his wearing their jersey. While we wait to find out, I have been dreaming of the perfect recipe to honor this lovely man.
It is my understanding that he loves the fresh, tropical flavors of his home. Suriname is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, French Guyana, Guinea, and Brazil. The fabulous blend of cultures here includes Dutch, West African, Creole, Indonesian, Chinese, Lebanese, and Jewish. I can only imagine how amazing the food on their tables must be! I dream of sharing that conversation with him one day.
If I were his Chef, with pure pleasure I would offer my simple, yet incredibly delicious Mango-Pineapple Pudding cake as a gift for his family table.
Trusting that he appreciates everything-indulgent-in-moderation, I think he’ll love that the fresh mango and pineapple are accented with hints of lime, vanilla, spice, and coconut, so this cake is not terribly sweet. It is, however, terribly irresistible.
It smells like love is in the air while it bakes, which makes it all the more fabulous. Once it comes out of the oven, it only needs to cool slightly before serving, maybe 15 minutes. Or less.
I feel it only fair to warn Mr. Seedorf that once he does experience the first bite of this cake, he might wish to seriously reconsider that everything-in-moderation thing.
He and I can talk about that in the conversation we’ll be having ...
Mango-Pineapple Pudding Cake, for Clarence Seedorf
Note: Both the juice and zest of fresh limes are used in this recipe; it is recommended that you grate zest from the limes, then juice the same limes. You will need at least 2, perhaps 3 or 4. Choose limes that are yellow-ish and feel a little heavy. They are ripest with the most juice.
Freshly grated zest of 2 limes
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 1/2 cups fresh mango pieces (see how to easily prepare mango pieces)
1/2 cup fresh pineapple pieces
Whisk zest, juice, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth in medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat, and stir until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Add fruit pieces, and stir until mixture is heated through, and resembles cooked pie filling. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 400F degrees, and coat a 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray. Reserve 1/2 cup of fruit mixture and set aside. Coat bottom of prepared pan with remaining fruit mixture.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp grated fresh coconut OR dried sweetened flake coconut
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 whole vanilla bean, scraped OR 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut milk OR 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (1 cube) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Combine first 7 ingredients in large mixing bowl. In small bowl, whisk remaining ingredients. Blend this gradually into dry mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated and mixture is smooth. Spread cake batter evenly over fruit in pan. Spread reserved 1/2 cup fruit mixture over cake batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until cake inserter comes out clean and cake is lightly browned on top. Let cool slightly before serving.
Cake is most delicious when served warm!
Yields about 8-10 servings. (In a fair and perfect world.)