“What would you like to have for tomorrow’s soup?”
Grandma would never get by a dinner without a pot of delicate soup. “Soup is the highlight of a meal. There is no decent dinner without soup!” She would spend a whole day preparing a soup that could live up to the title of “family food.”
“What would you like to have for tomorrow’s soup?” she always asked.
“Anything is the last thing in the world I can make.” She often complained.
Tomorrow’s Soup could be ANYTHING
In vain had she tried to get inspiration from us; grandma decided to work on her own. She buried her head in the kitchen and made mysterious formulas of soups like a pharmacist. She had stewed for us: chicken soup, spicy and sour soup, egg custard, pork shoulder soup, sour fish soup, thick tofu soup, wonton soup, soft-shelled turtle soup, Russian soup, mushroom-and-milk soup, onion soup, corn soup, et cetera, et cetera. She spared no efforts in providing us with a variety of soups, from simple to sophisticated; from local to exotic.
Well, grandma was a soup magician. The kitchen was an unknown backstage, while the dining table was her stage where her soup was greeted by our “wows” all the time.
Soup on the Menu for New Year’s eve
Once grandma started preparing food for New Year’s Eve, she listed the menu, revised it, and finally decided to serve us with the soup of meat and bamboo shoot. From that very morning, I had been listening to an orchestra conducted by grandma in the kitchen. The running water was gurgling melodiously, when a pot of boiling water was bubbling hilariously on the gas stove. I couldn’t help sneaking into the kitchen and spying on her. She was washing the salted meat and boiling the fresh meat in the pot. After that, she took the meat out of the pot and washed it for a second time.
How to Prepare the Meat
“Granny, why do you have to wash the meat in that way?”
“It can relieve the soup from grease and make it clear.” Replied grandma when she was chopping the bamboo shoots. “As for the shoots, they can bring out the flavor of meat.”
“It is so easy to make!”
“Not really, the secret of success is a gentle heat and a patient heart. The soup is like a baby; you can never manage to cultivate it with all haste.”
Yes, I could see the pot containing meat and bamboo shoots lying quietly on the slow fire, waiting to be “mature”.
While grandma was busy preparing other dishes, she never forgot to take off the lid and remove the foam on top of the soup from time to time. As the dinnertime was approaching, the delicacy of the soup invaded my room, which made my mouth water… When the soup was finally served on the table, everyone was amazed at the sight of its limpidity, and it was drunk up to the last drop.
The soup maniac, my grandma, passed away when I was 16.
Someone Else will Have to Make Tomorrow’s Soup
“Have one more bowl of soup before you leave the table!”
“Don’t you know how nutritious it is?”
“Those who do not enjoy soup are heartless!”
Grandma always persuaded us into having her soup in one way or another. She just wanted all the family members to enjoy good health by drinking the enriched, nutritious soup she stewed.
In Chinese, the word “stew” (熬) carries the meaning of long-lasting suffering. The making of life is a process of suffering and nurturing, through which our life can be as tasty as my grandma’s soup.
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