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Release date: 12/28/2004.

You'll find many of the quotes here in it, From AN EXALTATION OF SOUPS,
copyright © 2004
by Patricia Solley,
Published by Three Rivers Press.

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The Pleasures
and Uses
of Soup...
Through the Ages

George Bernard Shaw, brilliant playwright, social reformer, and vegetarian, on being tasked by his biographer with writing plays without genius:

"I do not waste my time writing pot-boilers: the pot must be boiled, and even my pot au feu has some chunks of fresh meat in it. ...I have no time to boil myself down; and anyhow I could not do so and preserve all the necessary nutriment and the flavoring on which the digestibility depends."

Marty Martindale, food writer and bon vivante:

"Little is nobler than presiding over a kettle of homemade soup."

Vladimir Nabokov, 20th century Russian/American novelist, writing about the memories of exiles:

Memory overshadows the present and dims the future "into something thicker than its usual pea soup."

Alexei Tolstoy, Russian writer of satiric expressions:

"Wisdom is like turtle soup in that not everyone can get it."

Marian Gavenda, Conference of Slovak Bishops:

"We are like salt. Even a bit can add flavor to the European soup."

Heinrich Heine, German philosopher:

"Reform Judaism is like mock turtle soup--turtle soup without the turtle"

Unattributed feminist quote:

"Men are like soup: you always want to have one on the back burner, just in case.

Attributed to (Thomas Edward) Lawrence of Arabia (1888-1935), English adventurer:

"Making war or rebellion is messy, like eating soup off a knife."

Sylvia Townsend Fuller, English writer (1893-1978), diary entry 5/26/29:

"I discovered that dinners follow the order of creation--fish first, then entrées, then joints, lastly the apple as dessert. The soup is chaos."

Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732:

"Of soup and love, the first is the best."

Junichiro Tanizaki, Japanese novelist, In Praise of Shadows:

"Whenever I sit with a bowl of soup before me, listening to the murmur that penetrates like the distant song of an insect, lost in contemplation of the flavours to come, I feel as if I were being drawn into a trance."

Eric Sweig, Canadian actor, on his days of homelessness and alcoholism:

"That's when you really start to appreciate bowls of soup--getting a bowl of soup during the day, a hot bowl of soup, where I was homeless in Toronto, where it's 40 below zero in the winter time, where you get a bowl of soup, that's like God."

Leslie Eliel, Seattle musician and songwriter:

"Like soup. Like the incredible seafood chowder I had at Brad's Swingside Café. That small gift that looked like a mere taste in a simple thick-lipped bowl, but that caught my breath as I brought it near my mouth, caught me with this aroma, this complex, maritime hint of something ancient, something swimming in the dark, something slippery and sleek and always in liquid motion, caught me, made me hold back, made me honor this sudden reversal of breath, made me slow this gradual intake of salty steaming time, this promise. Made me. This promise made me. And when it was time to taste, it was all flesh and flavor, gusto and god. I never understood all that I experienced."

Margaret Huntingdon Hooker's The Gentlewoman's Housewifery, 1896:

"Of Soups: no good housewife has any pretensions to rational economy who boils animal food without converting the broth into some sort of soup"

Napoleon Bonaparte:

"An army travels on its stomach. Soup makes the soldier."

Austin O'Malley, author:

"Marriage is the meal where soup is better than the dessert."

Kathleen Parker, columnist, on boycotts: "If you don't like tomato soup, you don't buy tomato soup."

Carlos Santana, guitarist, telling Rolling Stone magazine about smells in the "other world," where he talks to now deceased jazz trumpeter Miles Davis:

"He just seems as cool as ever. I can smell him. Even on the other side, there is smell. Like, when babies are born, there's two smells--one is chicken soup, which is the flesh, and the other is lilacs, which is coming from the spiritual garden. The spirit has a lilac smell."

Robert Putnam, social critic of America's slide away from community and author of Bowling Alone, discussing the trend in voyeur television:

"None of the people watching 'Big Brother' will bring you chicken soup if you get sick."

Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de la Reynière,19th century French lawyer and gastronome:

"Soup is to dinner what the portico or the peristyle is to an edifice. That is to say, not only is it the first part, but it should be conceived in such a way as to give an exact idea of the feast, very nearly as the overture to an opera should announce the quality of the whole work."

Nacha, nurse and mentor to Tita in Like Water for Chocolate:

"Only the pots know the boiling points of the broths," she says as Tita weeps into the wedding batter she is making to celebrate the marriage of her sister to her own true love.

G. C. Lichtenberg's Aphorism 14 (German physicist/philosopher, 1742-99):

Food probably has a very great influence on the condition of men. Wine exercises a more visible influence, food does it more slowly but perhaps just as surely. Who knows if a well-prepared soup was not responsible for the pneumatic pump or a poor one for a war?

Antonin Carême, French chef extraordinaire:

When informed that Marquis de Cussy, aide to Napolean I, argued that while soup may be a preface to dinner, a good work can do without a preface, Carême responded: "Why should the Marquis de Cussy wage war on soup? I cannot understand a dinner without it. I hold soup to be the well beloved of the stomach."

James Ingram, soulful American singer/songwriter/producer:

"I guess if you take a dash of Donny Hathaway, a dash of Marvin Gaye, and add a little twist of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, you'll end up with a James Ingram soup."

Canadian chanteuse Nanette Workman:

"Blues is the soupbone in the soup."

Psychologist Abraham Maslow, creator of the "human potential movement" of the 1960s:

"A first rate soup is more creative than a second rate painting."

O. Henry, when asked why he invited a homeless woman to dinner:

"When I see a shipwreck, I like to know what caused the disaster...[I learned] nothing but the glow that wrapped her face when the soup came. That's the story."

Hanna Glass, in The Art of Cookery (1776):

"You must observe in all broths and soups that one thing does not taste more than another, but that the taste be equal, and it has a fine agreeable relish, according to what you design it for; and you must be sure that all greens and herbs you put in be cleaned, washed, and picked."

Herbie Mann, jazz musician, describing his evolution as a flutist:

"Let's say you have some chicken stock and you're making soup, and out of everything you can taste, some of the things you put in and some of the things you don't. So you start out with an African spice then you hear some Brazilian music, so then it changes. Then you hear Jamaican and it changes again. And the result depends on how much of each spice you put into it. Now, I've been putting in spices since I started playing professionally in 1945."

Miss Manners (American newspaper columnist Judith Martin):

"Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give you a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? ...Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don't catch steak hanging around when you're poor and sick, do you?"

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924), American author of The Little Princess, a heartbreaker of a story about an orphan with gumption who adjusts to her change from a life of privilege to reacting with Becky, a serving girl, to an unexpected act of charity from an ailing neighbor:

"Imagine, if you can, what the rest of the evening was like. How they crouched by the fire which blazed and leaped and made much of itself in the little grate. How they removed the covers of the dishes, and found rich, hot savory soup, which was a meal in itself, and sandwiches and toast and muffins enough for both of them."
(With thanks to Bethany Gronberg, Virginia Beach, VA, for nailing down the source)

Nora Ephron, American food writer:

"What I love about cooking is that after a hard day, there is something comforting about the fact that if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick! It's a sure thing! It's a sure thing in a world where nothing is sure; it has a mathematical certainty in a world where those of us who long for some kind of certainty are forced to settle for crossword puzzles."

Sydney Smith, 1771-1845, English clergyman and wit: "Soup and fish explain half the emotions of life"

Mme. Seignobos (early 20th century), French author, in Comment on forme une cuisinieère:

"The making of a good soup is quite an art, and many otherwise clever cooks do not possess the tour de main necessary to its successful preparation. Either they over-complicate the composition of the dish, or they attach only minor importance to it, reserving their talents for the meal itself, and so it frequently happens that the soup does not correspond in quality to the rest of the dishes; nevertheless, the qualith of the soup should foretell that of the entire meal."

Saki (1870-1916), British author, in The Blind Spot:

"I believe I once considerably scandalized her by declaring that clear soup was a more important factor in life than a clear conscience"

Sydney Smith, in The Smith of Smiths by Hesketh Pearson (1934):

"I am convinced that digestion is the great secret of life and that character, talents, virtues, and qualities are powerfully affected by beef, mutton, pie-crust and rich soups."

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German poet:

"Grub first, then ethics"

Clementine Paddleford, American food editor (1961):

"The day has the color and the sound of winter. Thoughts turn to chowder...chowder breathes reassurance. It steams consolation"

Anon., Memoirs of a Stomach (1833)

"The a very hospitable gentleman, who is unfashionable enough to live in a sunk storey, as his ancestors have always done before him since the memory of man. The palate is the footman, whose duty it is to receive all strangers at the top of the stairs, and to announce their rank and quality before they are suffered to descend to the apartments of his master. The latter is occasionally rather irritable and choleric, and, in such humours, scruples not to kick out his guests, when their company is disagreeable, who rush past the astonished footman a the landing-place and make their exit with far less ceremony than precipitation."

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British writer, in "A Room of One's Own":

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), British writer, in My Man Jeeves (1919):

"I hadn't the heart to touch my breakfast. I told Jeeves to drink it himself."

Julia Child on creating perfect French soup recipes:

"Working on soups, for instance, I made a soup a day chez Child. On the day for soupe aux choux, I consulted Simca's recipe, as well as the established recipes of Montagne, Larousse, Ali-Bab, and Curnonsky. I read through them all, then made the soup three different ways--following two recipes exactly as written, and making one adaptation for the pressure cooker (the stinking, nasty, bloody pressure cooker--I hated it! It made everything taste nasty! But it was popular in U.S. households). At dinner,my guinea pig, Paul, complimented the three soupes aux choux, but I wasn't satisfied. One of the sercrets to make this dish work, I felt, was to make a vegetable-and-ham stock before the cabbage was put in; also, not to cook the cabbage too long, which gives it a sour taste. But should the cabbage be blanched? Should I use a different variety of cabbage? Would the pressure-cooked soup taste better if I had used the infernal machine a shorter time? I had to iron out all of these questions of how and why and for what reason; otherwise, we'd end up with just an ordinary recipe--which was not the point of the book. I felt we should strive to show our readers how to make everything top-notch, and explain, if possible, why things work one way but not another. There should be no compromise!"

Daily Show comedian Stephen Colbert:

"Gravitas is the soup bone in the stew of television news."

Axionicus, late 2nd century Syrian gnostic in Antioch:

"I am making soup, putting in well-warmed fish, and adding to them some scarce half-eaten fragments; the which I sprinkle with savory assafoetida; and then I make the whole into a well flavored sausage, a meat most saleable. Then I do add a slice of tender tripe; and a snout soaked in vinegar. so that the guests do all confess the second day has beaten o'er the wedding day itself." (from Cheryl Brooks' Unusual Soups)

Kurt Vonnegut, U.S. novelist, upon accepting the Carl Sandburg Literary Award in Chicago:

"We are America’s Great Lakes people, her freshwater people, not an oceanic but a continental people. Whenever I swim in an ocean, I feel as though I am swimming in chicken soup."

H.L Mencken:

In Chrestomathy, "An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup."

Describing the electioneering of Warren G. Harding in 1920, says about his stump speech that debuts the miscoinage of the word normalcy, "it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights."

W. H. Auden, NYTimes 1960:

"Poetry is the only art people haven't yet learnt to consume like soup."

James Boswell, Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, 13 September 1773:

"A page of my Journal is like a cake of portable soup. A little may be diffused into a considerable portion."

Russell Hoban, Turtle Diary, chapter 3: "The sign said 'The Green Turtle, Chelonia myadas, is the source of turtle soup...." I am the source of William G. soup if it comes to that. Everyone is the source of his or her kind of soup. In a town as big as London, that's a lot of soup walking around."

American humorist Mark Twain on a glorious J.M.W. Turner painting:

It "looks like a tortoiseshell cat having a fit in a bowl of tomato soup."

British leader Winston Churchill on dinner:

"Well, dinner would have been splendid if the wine had been as cold as the soup, the beef as rare as the service, the brandy as old as the fish, and the maid as willing as the Duchess."

Sex therapist Elizabeth Huss:

"Sex is like eating a meal. Sometimes you just want a bowl of soup, and other times you want the three-course meal."

Vincent Van Gogh writing to brother Theo in 1888:

"I'm now painting with all the elan of a Marseillais eating soup, which won't surprise you when I tell you I'm painting large sunflowers. The idea? To decorate the studio, now there's hope of Gauguin living here. I aim at a dozen panels of sunflowers in the room I've set aside for Gauguin...."

Composer Dmitri Shostokovich on Sergei Prokofiev's foolish return to Soviet Russia in 1936:

"He fell like a chicken into the soup." Under Stalin, there were more, not less, restrictions on the work of artists, often irrational, sometimes downright contradictory.

Composer Modest Moussorgsky to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in a letter dated 8/15/1868:

"And another thing about German symphonic development. I tell you, our cold kvass soup is a horror to the Germans, and yet we eat it with pleasure. And their cold cherry soup is a horror to us, and yet it sends a German into ecstacy. In short, symphonic development is just like German philosophy and soup--all worked out and systematized. When a German thinks, he reasons his way to a conclusion. Our Russian brother, on the other hand, starts with a conclusion and then might amuse himself with some reasoning."

George Costanza (from the Seinfeld tv show):

"The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli."

Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book, 1949:

"Soup is cuisine's kindest course. It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability...there is nothing like a bowl of hot soup, its wisp of aromatic steam making the nostrils quiver with anticipation."

Ashley Judd, American actress and country singer:

"When we were growing up, we were so poor that our heritage was the only thing we had. Mama would say, 'Kids, pour more water in the soup. Better days are coming.'"
(from a 10/13/97 People magazine quote; contributed by Vicki McClure Davidson of Scottsdale, Arizona)

Gustave Flaubert:

"What an awful thing life is. It's like soup with lots of hairs floating on the surface. You have to eat it nevertheless."

Stephen King, American frightmeister, on his own writing style:

"The literary equivalent of turkey rice soup."

Anton Chekhov, on HIS writing style, at the end of his life and in failing health:

Writing for me now is like "eating cabbage soup from which a cockroach has just been removed."

Ivan Turgenev in a letter to V. P. Botkin:

"I'm through with Tolstoy. He has ceased to exist for me.... If I eat a bowl of soup and like it, I know by that fact alone and with absolute certainty that Tolstoy will find it bad, and vice versa."

Alexandre Pushkin:

"Cabbage soup and barley. They're Russia's national food. Both excellent in their way, but a shade monotonous."

Controversial Nigerian Pastor Tunde Bakare:

"They say I'm in soup, but it is only the man in soup that can lick from it."

"All in the Family" television show:

Bernstein (to Archie Bunker): "There are two types of people in this world: shlemihls and shlimazls. A shlemihl is the person who always spills soup, and a shlimazl is the person he spills it on. I'm the shlemihl and you're the shlimazl."
Edith Bunker, wide-eyed and reassuringly: "Oh, there are times when Archie's the shlemihl and I'm the shlimazl."

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) to Mme. Streicher in 1817:

"Whoever tells a lie cannot be pure in heart--and only the pure in heart can make good soup"

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw:

"We called Pete Rose and Larry Bowa the soup spoons, because they were always stirring things up. Twenty years later, nothing's changed."

Auguste Escoffier, "the king of chefs and the chef of kings" (1847-1935):

"Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite"

Maxwell Bodenheim (1892-1954), bohemian poet:

"Thank you for inviting me to your house [he wrote to a rich Chicago lady with literary pretensions], but I prefer to dine in the Greek restaurant at Wabash Avenue and 12th Street where I will be limited to finding dead flies in my soup."

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), English diarist:

"Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody"

Brillat-Savarin Anthelme (1755-1826), French lawyer and gastronomist, in The Physiology of Taste

"A rich soup; a small turbot; a saddle of venison; an apricot tarte: this is a dinner fit for a king."

"The pleasures of the table are of all times and all ages, of every country and of every day; They go hand in hand with all our other pleasures, outlast them, and in the end console us for their loss. ...The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star."

"Dear gourmands! my bowels yearn towards them as a father's toward his children. They are so good natured! They have such sparkling eyes!"

"The sensation of taste is a chemical process operating through the medium of humidity, as we used to say in the old days; that is to say, the sapid molecules must be dissolved in some fluid...Substances...must be divided up by the teeth, saturated with saliva and the other gustative fluids, and pressed against the palate by the tongue until they extrude a juice which, being then sufficiently charged with sapidity, is appreciated by the tentacles of taste...."

"...smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose...."

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), British dramatist, in Man and Superman:

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food"

Felix J. DeLiee, in his 1884 Franco-American Cookery Book:

Believing soup had been slighted in 19th century cookbooks, he made up for the oversight by providing over 350 soup recipes, including the following varieties of consomme: a l'Andalouse; a l'Bourdaloue; a la Brisse; a la Careme; a la Celestine; a la Chatelaine; a la Crecy; a la Cussy; a la Deslignae; a la D'Orleans; a la D'Orsay; a l'imperiale; a la MacDonald; a la Magenta; a la Medicis; a la Montmorency; a la Napolitaine; a la Piemontaise; a la Rachel; a la Rivoli; a la Roqueplan; a la Sevigne; a la Talma; a la Xavier; aux laitues; aux profiterolles; au quenelles; with bread crusts, with poached eggs

Antonin Carême (1784-1833), chef for Talleyrand, Tsar Alexander I, George IV, and Baron Rothschild and acknowledged Monarch of the Kitchen, described himself as:

"The guardian and arbiter of superlative eating, with every meal an unforgettable experience in pleasure, starting with the soup, which he said, 'must be the agent provocateur of a good dinner"

Dr. Henry Jordan, University of Pennsylvania, in a 10-week dieting study involving 10,000 subjects:

Eating soup at the outset of a meal slows rapid eating and blunts appetite before excessive food is consumed--therefore a soup-laden diet can change eating habits and lead to weight loss

Owen Meredith, nom de plume of Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton (1831-1891), English diplomat, in "Lucile":

We may live without poetry, music, and art
We may live without conscience, and live without heart
We may live without friends, we may live without books
But civilized man cannot live without cooks.

Dr. Hans Bazli:

"After a perfect meal, we are more susceptible to the ecstasy of love than at any other time."

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), British writer, in Do What You Will:

"A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will's freedom after it."