I Hate Soup (Expository Essay)
Posted: October 24, 2002 at 14:54:46
A few weeks ago, in a fit of spleen, I wrote down some vitriol about soup. Now that MikeG has opened the literary flood gates with his hilarious "attempts" to start a poetic post, here is my diatribe against soup. I didn't want to post it before because the few people who read it said it sounded too, what's the word they used, oh yeah, crazy.
I HATE SOUP
Earlier tonight, I was suffering though a bowl of The Wifeís absolutely putrescent turkey soup (which she knows I canít stand, but which she continues to make, for reasons unknown, though I feel it may have something to do with the Womenís Movement). Slurping, I realized: I hate soup. Not just turkey soup, all soup, everywhere. Chicken noodle, pho, Vichyssoise, gazpacho, all of it. Me, who likes all things Italian, I hate even minestrone Ė in fact, especially minestrone!
One of my favorite early twenty-first century reads was Rebecca Stangís "The Invention of the Restaurant," in which she traces the growth of the modern eating establishment. The restaurant, as we know it today, came into existence in France around the time of the Revolution Ė it was a place where they mostly served soup, and the name "restaurant" is derived from the French word for "restorative." These early soup kitchens (and serving areas) were, in a sense, places to get soup, which was late eighteenth-century health food. Etymology aside, who reading this post goes out of their way for health food? In fact, do not the very words "health food" conjure images of sawdusty, "good for you" and tasteless glop. From the start, in other words, this watery stuff had a questionable reason for coming into existence. Is it any surprise the Reign of Terror was not far behind?
But now to the present day Ė or rather earlier this month. It was with great disappointment that I saw a bowl of soup laid before me at Le Creole. Can any Chowhounds at that gathering honestly say that at that dark moment they thought to themselves, "oh goody, soup!"? Mare? Ultimo? Anyone? Of course not! Soup is dull and boring and sloppy and hard to eat. The rest of the meal was very satisfying Ė outstanding ox tails, good gamey goat, highly pleasing pain Patate, etc. But the soup, right off the bat Ė my stomach sank. Now that I think about it, maybe thatís why restaurants serve soup first: so that everything that comes after it will seem so much better by comparison.
Have you ever had low-sodium soup? Itís terrible. And how many times have you had a sip of soup and said, with a hint of chastisement, "Needs salt." Loads of times, Iím sure. Salt is what makes soup interesting. Without it, youíve got nothing. So whatís the big deal with soup! Itís just salt, which is a whole lot better on steak and French fries. And because soup is mostly highly concentrated liquid sodium, it is very dangerous for those of us with high blood pressure Ė in fact, in a very real sense, SOUP KILLS!
Now, before this rant spirals out of control, let me be very clear. I donít hold it against you if you like soup. Youíre entitled to your tastes. Iím sure soup is consumed by some very nice people every day all around the world. I just find soup to be infinitely insipid Ė and I would be pleased to never have it set before me again.
Though Iím sure that is not to be the case.
With the winter months approaching, Iíll no doubt see much more of this malevolently steaming stuff ladled out like slop for a hungry barnyard. And as I grow older, and lose all my teeth (along with my hearing) Iíll probably actually look forward to my twice-daily bowl of tongue-blistering broth. Of course, at that point, Iíd probably perk up at the thought of a surprise sponge bath.
Until that day, I hate soupÖ sometimes, though, it can be okay, I guess.