I’ve mentioned this soup before. I called it Blackout Soup. I’ve also called it Lentil-Kale-Sausage Soup.
But this post isn’t really about soup. It’s (once again) about friends who join me over a meal, soup-centred or otherwise, or who participate in my life, or I in theirs.
This was a week of food and support passed on hand-to-hand.
I just met a huge work deadline, a threshold of my (academic) career. Food functioned as a ceremonial marker of an important, if harrowing time.
Last weekend I took The Tennis Player out for dinner, to a newly-minted local diner, Hadley’s. It’s a funny place, with earnest, kindly owners and servers. They specialize in smoked stuff: the smoked fish appetizer on sweet pea pancakes was charming and surprising. They’ve got a few wrinkles to iron out: the ribs, though tasty, were not as tender as the TP would have liked. My smoked duck was accompanied by a bland gluey risotto. (Seriously, who do I have to blow to get good risotto in this town?) But it was, hands-down, the best duck I’ve ever had.
Tennis Player doesn’t usually allow people to do stuff for her. She’s the one who will often grab the cheque, or drive you to Ikea, or bring you tomatoes from her garden.
I didn’t expect or want recompense, but a few days later she had created a beautiful design for my documents. She wanted to help.
In the midst of all the chaos I made the aforementioned soup, and it stayed on the stove like a magic potion. The day of the deadline, The PhD Candidate, hyperventilating slightly, helped me fill two binders full of documents. Delicious and medicinal, that soup gave us strength and humour to continue. PhD Candidate sighed. I’ve. Been. Living. On. Cream of Wheat. And. Oranges. she said.
Once I got those 50 lb. binders handed in, I hopped a cab to Momo’s, a Middle Eastern restaurant on Harbord, to meet The Queer Academic Power Couple for dinner. I scarfed down lamb brochette, salad and potatoes, sipped thirstily on shiraz. We exchanged deadline horror stories and lavish compliments. The QAPC, a sweet , smart young lesbian combo, insisted on picking up the tab.
And then, exhausted beyond belief, I went off to hear my writer-sister-comrade Myrna Kostash read from her beautiifully written memoir, Prodigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium, about her theological, cultural, and implicitly feminist search for a spiritual home – in Orthodoxy.
The evening ended back at Momo’s, with a small earnest group of Ukrainians. We discussed feminism, socialism and spirituality. The day had become too rich, impossible to digest. I made sure Myrna got some food and drink. (She’s on tour, she needs to keep her energy up).
The soup was still on the stove when I got home. There were papers, and sticky notes, and hole-punch confetti everywhere. The rain beat against windows, its rhythm filling me with relaxation and relief. I turned on my phone to check messages and there was a photos of my ma’s perogies, sent by my brother, like the last frame of a film.