23 November 2011

Soup Angels

I have Soup Angels that come to my house. Over the last few months loved ones have been very generous with filling up our freezer. But since fall rolled in, there’s been a glorious abundance of soup.  These soup deliveries come in various forms. Some are drive-bys where the Soup Angel will pull up in a mini van, fling open the side door, toss me a container, and speed off into the afternoon. Others are a drops-offs on the front porch. Or special delivery, via a third party.

So this morning Jim left me a little note, reminding me to eat the Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup before it goes bad. I hardly need reminding to eat, but it would be tragic to see such deliciousness go to waste. I opened the fridge to take account of my stock ( I feel like I’m living in Pusateri’s, but without the security guards) and looked over my bounty.  I realized that the personality of each Soup Angel shone through from each offering. Maybe that’s why soup is so popular, cus each serving has an intimacy not offered by a sandwich, or a Mars Bar.

Here’s what I saw. The Chicken Soup is a big robust meal full of strapping noodles that require a big spoon to eat. No tidy half measures here! It’s a fabulous lively mess, and at it’s heart is a ballsy broth that infuses everything from the tender slabs of chicken to the hardy chunks of carrot. The master of the soup, who is a dear friend, is a brilliant sledgehammer of a chef whose kitchen pulsates with life. To put it more bluntly, (which she would appreciate), she doesn’t need an orderly environment or a measuring cup to create her masterpieces. Step down Mario Batali- nothing can be recreated, nor improved. It’s all freehand, instinctive, and full of love, flavour, & booze.

Butternut squash soup from Jim’s sister. It’s cookbook perfect, and  could be in a glossy LCBO magazine, yet tastes a million times better than something so sophisticated. It’s a deep, rich velvety soup that is totally polished and ready for a soup centerfold.  It looks like an elegant well-presented dish, but once you dive in, you sink into many surprising layers of fun and fantasticness, and will eventually want to kick off your shoes. Likelihood of booze in the soup is fairly high (and if not in the soup, it’s in Jim’s sister).

A Seafood Novel
Fish chowder comes from my cousin (and favorite friend) in a generous, and stylish, saucepan. She’s made this for me on several occasions (birthdays, thanksgiving, canceritis) because she’s kind, thoughtful and doesn’t like to see me beg. This soup is a juicy seafood novel. It gives off an excellent first impression, quickly gets you hooked, and keeps building with discovery of each buttery chunk of crab and delectable piece of scallop. It makes you want to keep eating even though you know you know you will be very sad when it is finished. But you keep eating anyway because it just keeps getting better and better and better.  The extra effort it takes to create this chowder is apparent, but she does so with ease, and when she says it was a pleasure, I believe her. Booze quotient? A gracious current of cognac in the chowder, and probably a Chardonnay in it’s maker.

Another Soup Angel is one I've never met who is a friend of Jim’s sister. She’s loaded us up several times, and as I don’t know her I can only say this. She is an excellent cook, extraordinarily kind, and has lovely taste in mason jars. Booze quotient? I’d like to think she was drinking champagne.

Lastly, I made my own barely & mushroom soup. It was dull. But healthy. Booze quotient - zero. Overall, boring, but with the promise of getting better.

21 November 2011

The French are Always Right

This morning I was feeling sniveley. It’s a grey November Monday and I would have preferred not to get dressed. And when I did put on clothes, I made the mistake of wearing sweatpants (not exactly the Rocky Balboa kind, but close). Don’t know why I was feeling so drab. Maybe it’s because my eyelashes are thinning and I’m feeling like less of a girl. Still, it’s temporary – hardly grave enough to warrant dressing like a boxer, even if he was Heavyweight Champion of the World.

My nurse warned us patients against letting ourselves go. They urge us put a little care into how we dress.  On dark days, especially, it’s best not to give into the gloomy moods that might come our way. Nothing brings a girl round like a stylish sweater, and a smear of bright lipstick!

It’s good advice actually. French girls do it all the time. Even for days like today, when one’s main activity is to drag a basset hound down the street, and do taxes, it doesn’t hurt to add a bit of colour.

But this morning I didn’t feel like it. Today I grabbed the heap of hair from the dresser and slapped it on. Then the largest toque in my hat collection and pulled it down low like bored rapper. I put on a fleece that wasn’t supposed to be fluffy, it was just covered in fur. Then on the way out the door, with one last reluctant swipe, I added a bit of colour to my lips.

Following Jed down the sidewalk I had to pass by my neighbor, a tall man who was holding his toddler. I moved to the edge of the sidewalk, and attempted to walk by. The toddler, who was at my eye level, said something in gibberish as I passed and I gave a halfhearted wave in return.

As I kept walking and in the background I heard a little voice say, “Nice lady”.
It took a second to realize that he was talking about me. And that he correctly assumed my gender!  Feeling the gloom lifting we trotted off merrily to Queen St, feeling that no matter what, I’m still a girl, and you should never underestimate the power of lipstick.