SOUPSONG HAS GONE HARDCOPY!
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Iain Pears' The Dream of Scipio:
"She [Rebecca] got up and walked by his [Rabbi Levi ben Gershon's] side. He said nothing, but did not seem embarrassed by her company, did not want her to walk behind him to guard his reputation. And when they got to his house--this house, the first she had been in since she had left the empty place her parents had occupied--he ladled a bowl of vegetable soup onto a plate for her and made her sit and eat. Then gave her some bread and water. Then some more soup. And some more."
Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner:
"A short while later, Maryam and her mother brought two steaming bowls of vegetable shorwa and two loaves of bread. 'I'm sorry we can't offer you meat,' Wahid said. 'Only the Taliban can afford meat now.' 'This looks wonderful' I said. It did too. I offered some to him, to the kids, but Wahid said the family had eaten before we arrived. Farid and I rolled up our sleeves, dipped our bread in the shorwa, and ate with our hands.
...[later] "I was about to go back inside when I heard voices coming from the house. I recognized one as Wahid's. '...nothing left for the children.' 'We're hungry but we're not savages! He is a guest! What was I supposed to do?' he said in a strained voiced. '--to find something tomorrow.' She sounded near tears. 'What do I feed--' I tiptoed away. I understood now why the boys hadn't shown any interest in the watch. They hadn't been staring at the watch at all. They'd been staring at my food."
Janet Flanner, in her introduction to "City of Love" (thanks to Edmundo Magana of Amsterdam for the cite)
"As an instructive Parisian remnant, in the elegant old faubourgs still stand some of the dated, great aristocratic mansions, built to create architectural style, not human comfort. Even the modest zinc mansard roofs of the medieval neighborhoods on the Left Bank produce the stimulation of picturesque skylines, formed by multiple chimney-pots, smoking at supper time as some woman starts the evening concoction of soup."
David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars:
Ishmael Chambers, one-armed newspaperman on a remote San Juan Island and still pining for his lost Japanese-American love, wrestles with moral choices in his mom's kitchen: "There she stood at the stove ladling soup with the calm ease of one who feels there is certainly such a thing as grace. She took pleasure in the soup's smell...."
Katherine Mansfield, "Bliss":
Just as Bertha, ecstatic til this moment with the undiluted happiness of her life, spots her husband and her best friend in an embrace down the corridor, idiotic friend Eddie picks up the new poem Table d'Hôte by Bilks and recites the first line: "Here it is. 'Why Must it Always be Tomato Soup?' It's so deeply true, don't you feel? Tomato soup is so dreadfully eternal."
Tobias Smollett, Humphrey Clinker:
"One wit, like a knuckle of ham in soup, gives a zest and flavour to the dish, but more than one serves only to spoil the pottage."
Ian McEwan's Atonement:
"Since the children were sometimes seated between adults, giving the look had its dangers--making faces at table could bring down disgrace and an early bedtime. The trick was to make the attempt while passing between, say, licking one's lips and smiling broadly, and at the same time catch the other's eye. On one occasion they had looked up and delivered their looks simultaneously, causing Leon to spray soup from his nostrils onto the wrist of a great-aunt. Both children were banished to their rooms for the rest of the day."
Rabelais' Gargantua & Pantagruel, First Book, 11: "Concerning Gargantua's Childhood":
"From his third to his fifth year Gargantua was brought up and disciplined in all necessary ways, such being his father's orders.... He was always rolling in the mud, dirtying his nose...pissed in his shoes, shat in his shirt, wiped his nose on his sleeve, snivelled into his soup...sharpened his teeth on a shoe, washed his hands in soup, combed his hair with a wine-bowl, sat between two stools with his arse on the ground, covered himself with a wet sack, drank while eating his soup...." (translation by J. M. Cohen)
Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead, his tour-de-force take on the 8th century English Beowulf:
"If a warrior is wounded in the abdomen, they feed him soup of onions and herbs; then the women smell about his wounds, and if they smell onions, they say, 'He has the soup illness,' and they know he shall die."
Later, after Buliwyf kills and is wounded by the mother of the wendol in the thunder caves, "A bowl of onion broth was brought for him, and he refused it, saying, 'I have the soup illness; do not trouble yourselves on my account.'" And, indeed, despite a last rally, he dies in battle and his body is sent out to sea in a burning ship.
Thomas Harris' grisly Hannibal (1999) celebrates that aesthete Dr. Lecter's taste in, for, and of soup:
Il Monstro restores drugged Clarice Starling to heath with "strong broth and omelettes."
He adds flavor to FBI official Krendler's about-to-be-eaten live brains by having him drink a little parsley and thyme soup and letting it circulate.
And he labors over making stock.
Back in his Memphis jail cell in Silence of the Lambs, he noted to New Agent Starling: "[Alexandre] Dumas tells us that the addition of a crow to bouillon in the fall, when the crow has fattened on juniper berries, greatly improves the colour and flavour of stock," adding, "How do you like it in the soup, Clarice?"
Now, in Hannibal, he tests the recipe:
"He lit a fire of shaggy chunk charcoal and made himself a drink, Lillet and a slice of orange over ice, while he considered the fond he had been working on for days. Dr. Lecter followed the inspired lead of Alexandre Dumas in fashioning his stock. Only three days ago, upon his return from the deer-lease woods, he had added to the stockpot a fat crow which had been stuffing itself with juniper berries."
Benjamin Disraeli's Tancred (1847) plumbs the meaning of soup untasted (When asked about his motives for writing novels, Disraeli explained that every so often he was overcome by the urge to read a novel, and in order to have one at hand he would write it himself):
"Who can combine gout with new combinations? 'Tis yourself, Leander." ..."What you learned from me came at least from a good school. It is something to have served under Napoleon," added Prevost, with the grand air of the Imperial Kitchen. "Had it not been for Waterloo I should have had the Cross. But the Bourbons and the Cooks of the Empire never could understand each other. They brought over an immigrant chef who did not comprehend the taste of the age. He wished to bring everything back to the time of the oeil de boeuf. When Napoleon passed my soup of Austerlitz untasted I knew the old family was doomed."
Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote is dismayed that his loyal Sancho Panza is always thinking of his stomach. Then, when Sancho achieves his dream of becoming Governor--then thinks better of it--he says:
"A Spade does better in My Hand than a Governor's Truncheon; and I had rather fill my Belly with Gazpacho than lie at the Mercy of a Coxcombly Physick-monger that starves me to Death."
Leopold Bloom's reflections on the well fed Irish Garda in James Joyce, Ulysses:
"A squad of constables...marching in Indian file. Goose step. Foodheated faces.... After their feed with a good load of fat soup under their belts.... A squad of others.... Bound for their troughs.... Prepare to receive soup."
James Joyce (1882-1941), in Ulysses:
"Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup..."
Bishop Latour, in Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), commenting on Father Vaillant's onion soup at Christmas dinner in the primitive U.S. Southwest
"A soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup."
DB Wyndham Lewis, U.S. humorist, in Welcome To All This:
"An old, worldly man lay propped up among his pillows in a high antique four-poster bed...his eyes were full of experience and irony. He lay there, very near his end, contemplating with faint amusement the preoccuption and solicitude of his attendants, most of whom he had disliked very heartily for years.... They begged this old man for a final message. He said in a clear but feeble voice: 'Never order thick soup....'"
Ian McEwan, Saturday:
Neurosurgeon Henry Perowne prepares his famous fish stew for a family reunion...and then some: "He empties the last of a Côte du Rhône into a glass, puts the TV on mute and sets about stripping and chopping three onions. Impatient of the papery outer layers, he makes a deep incision, forcing his thumb in four layers deep and ripping them away, wasting a third of the flesh. He chops the remainder repidly and tips it into a casserole with a lot of olive oil. What he likes about cooking is its relative imprecision and lack of discipline--a release from the demands of the theatre. In the kitchen, the consequences of failure are mild: disappointment, a wisp of disgrace, rarely voiced. No one actually dies. He strips and chops eight fat cloves of garlic and adds them to the onions. From recipes he draws only the broadest principles. The cookery writers he admires speak of 'handfuls' and 'a sprinkling,' of 'chucking in' this or that. They list alternative ingredients and encourage experimentation. Henry accepts that he'll never make a decent cook, that he belongs to what Rosalind calls the hearty school. Into his palm he empties several dried red chllies from a pot and crushes them between his hands and lets the flakes fall with their seeds into the onions and garlic. The TV news comes up but he doesn't touch the mute. It's the same helicopter shot from before it got dark, the same crowds still filing into the park, the same general celebration. Onto the softened onions and garlic--pinches of saffron, some bay leaves, orange-peel gratings, oregano, five anchovy fillets, two tins of peeled tomatoes. On the big Hyde Park stage, sound-bite extracts of speeches by a venerable politician of the left, a pop star, a playwright, a trade unionist. Into a stockpot he eases the skeletons of three skates. Their heads are intact, their lips girlishly full. Their eyes go cloudy on contact with the boiling water. A senior police officer is answering questions about the march. By his tight smile and the tilt of his head he appears satisfied with the day. From the green string bag of mussels Henry takes a dozen or so and drops them in with the skate. If they're alive and in pain, he isn't to know. Now that same earnest reporter, silently mouthing all there is to know about the unprecedented gathering. The juice of the tomatoes is simmering with the onions and the rest, and turning reddish-orange with the saffron...."
Victor Hugo's Les Miserables:
What does the Bishop serve Jean Valjean in the opening pages of the novel, when Valjean has been thrown out of every inn in the village and announces himself a 19-year convict? "It consisted of soup made of water, oil, bread, and salt, a little pork, a scrap of mutton, a few figs, a green cheese and a large loaf of rye bread."
Frank McCourt's 'Tis, A Memoir
Tobias Smollett's "Doctor's Dinner," from The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, wherein the Doctor attempts to recreate a true Roman dinner from antiquity...with just a few necessary substitutions along the way:
"But I beg pardon, I had almost forgotten the soup, which I hear is so necessary an article at all tables in France. At each end there are dishes of the salacacabia of the Romans; one is made of parsley, pennyroyal, cheese, pine-tops, honey, vinegar, brine, eggs, cucumbers, onions, and hen-livers; the other is much the same as the soupe-maigre of this country.... Monsieur le Baron, shall I help you to a plate of this soup? --- The German, who did not at all approve of the ingredients, assented to the proposal, and seemed to relish the composition; while the marquis was in consequence of his desire accommodated with a portion of the soupe-maigre; and the count supplied himself with a pigeon....
The Frenchman, having swallowed the first spoonful, made a pause; his throat swelled as if an egg had stuck in his gullet, his eyes rolled, and his mouth underwent a series of involuntary contractions and dilations. Pallet, who looked steadfastly at this connoisseur, with a view of consulting his taste, before he himself would venture upon the soup, began to be disturbed at these emotions, and observed, with some concern, that the poor gentleman seemed to be going into a fit; when Peregrine assured him these were symptoms of ecstasy, and, for further confirmation, asked the marquis how he found the soup. It was with infinite difficulty that his complaisance could so far master his disgust, as to enable him to answer, "Altogether excellent, upon my honor!" And the painter, being certified of his approbation, lifted the spoon to his mouth without scruple; but far from justifying the eulogium of his taster, when this precious composition diffused itself upon his palate, he seemed to be deprived of all sense and motion, and sat like the leaden statue of some river god, with the liquor flowing out at both sides of his mouth....
The Doctor, alarmed at this indecent phenomenon, earnestly inquired into the cause of it; and when Pallet recovered his recollection, and swore that he would rather swallow porridge made of burning brimstone, than such an infernal mess as that which he had tasted, the physician, in his own vindication, assured the company that, except the usual ingredients, he had mixed nothing in the soup but some salammoniac instead of the ancient nitrum, which could not now be procured; and appealed to the marquis, whether such a succedaneum was not an improvement of the whole. The unfortunate petit-maître, driven to the extremity of his condescension, acknowledged it to be a masterly refinement; and deeming himself obliged, in point of honor, to evince his sentiments by his practice, forced a few more mouthfuls of this disagreeable portion down his throat, till his stomach was so much offended that he was compelled to start up of a sudden; and, in the hurry of his elevation, overturned his plate into the bosom of the baron."
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), American writer, in This Side of Paradise:
"But I always felt that I'd rather be provincial hot-tamale than soup without seasoning."
Marcel Proust, in Jean Santeuil:
"But it was lovely all the same just when one was beginning to feel cold and hungry, to return through the village and to see between the trees of the Park light streaming from the windows of the drawing-room and dining-room, and to imagine in anticipation what was already there awaiting one's arrival, though one would not actually see it for several more minutes--the glow of the fire, the table under the lamp, the hot soup in one's plate."