Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Two spoonfuls

Tomato soup

Its a peculiar thing for me, that essential concoction of broth and fruit-that-is-a-vegetable-but-is-not.

Historically, things to which I have a negative emotional connection are things which I excise.

This, that peculiar substance, is an exception to that rule -- and insofar as food goes, is the only one that readily springs to mind, given, how it does, that its presence serves to remind me so immediately of the loss that broke me.

Two spoonfuls.

Given after watching her struggle with the spoon for the first time, then unable to deal with the straw.

The first, and last, time I would ever do for her what she somehow managed to do for me when I was but a squalling bundle. And the circle had been completed, for even as she had fed and changed and seen to my comforts, so had I done to hers.

After the first, she smiled, nodded, affirmed that it was good.

After the second, she died.

The moment is ingrained in my essence. Seared viscerally into my being, such that I cannot consider the thought of partaking of that simple substance without recollection, cannot banish it away from me, cannot dispel the hex that surrounds it and the power of its presence.

I like it with pepper and basil. Mostly with just pepper.

I rarely make it from scratch.  Doing so, using fresh tomatoes of several different varieties, adding in hints of little others, like a sort of cook's V-8, is enjoyable, but time consuming and costly, as soup, like other things full of complex flavors, takes time to set, and realize its potential.

So, to the can I go.

I'm not picky. I don't like to have to use a can opener, preferring the little pull tabs, but once in a while I still have to think ahead, and I know that the large can is able to provide me with a longer lasting  and more filling meal than the small one.

So, often, I end up with Campbell's.

It warms one inside, slightly startling as it hits the back of the throat, and if warm enough (as I'm wont to like it) you can feel it as it slides down the chest, behind the hardness of the ribs, protecting that fragile little metaphorical heart as well as the real one, the heat passing into that heart and in a way that's similar to chicken soup I suppose, it suffuses it as well.

From there, you can feel it land in the belly, and from there it spreads out into the whole body.

The downside to canned soup, of course, is that you have to mix with an equal part water (though I confess that I am on occasion inclined to use *almost* one part water, in that eternal rebellion I seem so dedicated to continue in each and every way, filling it up to not quite the same height, or maybe just a dribble more, and then, because habit can be weakening, I even do exactly as I'm supposed to, measuring volume and matching it with the practiced and jaded eye of someone who has cooked since they were 5).

Since it comprises so much of that reconstituted concoction, (she notes, as take the long way home begins to play in her headphones) the water adds to the character of the soup -- as it does for so many things.

in the location I am presently finding myself, through the actions of agencies both my own and that of others, in ways that, one day, will point to something startling, I am sure, and life lesson establishing, the water is pulled from a well.

The person at whom's whim I am graced with Internet and a domicile, has partaken of this water for a great deal of time, and declares boldly that one gets used to it, then rapidly caveats it with how people grant credence to all manner of curative qualities to sulfur springs.

The water is reasonably clear. Left to sit for about 9 hours, it produces a slight deposit of mineral salts on the bottom of the glass that slowly precipitate.

It smells akin to the end product of a week's worth of stress induced IBL release, a stench so beauteous that grown men have been known to stagger back in horror.  Apparently, since the body holds it in for a wee bit longer than it should, it ripens considerably.

I am also an absolute and utter tea addict. Coffee is suitable for dining out, and occasionally for the purpose of not being rude when entertaining or being entertained, or for when there is desperation, and it is available whilst tea which can be drank is not.

Tea is even more affected by the water employed. Tea is subtle, especially as gently as I'm known to brew it, the little pekoe leaves swirling in their infusive dance that brings a smile of anticipation as the aroma of my blend rises up.

But Tea is for another time.

The taste of this water, after it has gone through yon Brita four times at the very least, is salty, and unpleasant, but tolerable (unfiltered, it is almost like sea water stored in a tank that's rotted).

Coffee appears to slay the beast within it, thankfully, but I do not have a coffee machine readily handy myself, nor the ground beans with which to deliver myself.

When added to soup, thoughtlessly, carelessly, in that half awake state where food is important but the mind is drifting off, one must remember to filter it. I did not, this time, more than once.

The resultant soup is robbed of the most delicate aspects of its flavor. Indeed, the aftertaste is something one must struggle with. It rests on the top of the tongue, at the back of the mouth, a taunting reminder that yes, one has most certainly just committed a grievous sin.

In all honesty, I believe that the water is not fit for human consumption. However, for some fool reason, I spent the day endeavoring to whack a fool instead of actually securing transport to get some water of the filtered variety, of which I consume roughly 10 gallons a week.

Which, in this case, also left me with little in the way of vittles, so soup it was, willy nilly, without much thought.

It is salty -- as if someone has added more to it than needed -- the downside of canned soup is the salt added, and tomato soup truly does need salt (I use a mixture of Mrs Dash, sea salt,  and regular table salt when cooking it from scratch). But it is still soup, and I have managed to slowly consume portions of it, noting the bitterness that lies in it, and with each sip (for I drink it from a glass, instead of eating from a bowl), I remember, in detail as vivid and unprepared as when it first occurred...

two spoonfuls, and then a passing.


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