Beyond Reason Rob Perez – The Sentinel McPherson

January is, on average, the coldest month of the year. And that means one thing. Big heating bills. And soup. Alright, two things.

Of course, there are different types of soup. Alphabet soup is a metaphor made famous during FDR’s new deal which gave us all sorts of acronyms like IRS, CIA, FBI, BRB, LOL. Duck Soup is the absolutely timeless 1933 Marx Brothers film about Freedonia, a bankrupt nation looking to borrow a little something from a neighboring country. If you’re looking for a laugh, watch Groucho asking for money. Then get his book, “Memoirs of a Mangy Lover”. You don’t even have to open it. (Although you should) Just watching Groucho will put you in a better mood. But I digress. Again, Groucho too. And look where all these digressions led him.

At some point in your life, you will find someone who will explain something to you about nut soup. Walnut soup is a metaphor for the whole enchilada. At another point in your life, you might end up in the soup, which is not good. You want to be out of the soup, away from the soup. Shoot for a life beyond soup.

Unless it’s winter. Then you might want a bowl of soup.

Based on my completely cursory internet research, the very first recorded soup dates back to 20,000 BC. I guess they found it in the bottom of someone’s freezer, noticed the Tupperware was made of clay, summer handwriting (or cursive), and when they finally turned it on, it tasted ‘old’. Someone has placed a bet. History has been made.

What exactly is soup? Again, the internets come to the rescue. The soup is “not a stew”. Totally different. Not the same. At all. Personally, I consider soup to be the opposite of a smoothie. A smoothie is for breakfast and cold. A soup is not.

Yes, the soup is hot. There is a debate about this in the margins. Once in a while, a fancy chef offers a summer soup. He calls it “a cold soup” and puts it on the menu under his “hot salad”. Many eyebrows are raised. Did this genius chef invent something new? No, he hasn’t. There is no cold soup. If you are from Spain and have had a good gazpacho, this is good for you. But it’s not soup. It’s a smoothie.

While many other foods can be “turned off” (sushi, raw meat, etc.), I can’t think of any other foods that are “turned on”. “Let’s go for the soup!” is something someone might shout on a wholesome, old-school show like, say, Little House on the Prairie. You will never hear someone shout “Quiche, let’s go!” or “Let’s go!” or “Taco is on!” Only soup is served. So there is this.

The soup is, in my own culinary experience, just runny and all. The liquid is known as broth and the substance is known as substance. However, you will be hard pressed to find a soup without liquid, some soups have no substance. These soups are “bouillonées”. This would be the soup you could enjoy if you were actually chasing that dream of running away to that Buddhist monastery. Now, if you have too much in your soup, you have no soup. You have stew. Which is not soup. At all. We have already covered this. Try to continue.

Soups are well known and loved in many cultures. In fact, a soup, like Menudo, is so beloved that groups of boys (yes, plural!) named themselves after the soup just to ride its ponytails and become a passing fad. Fans show up for soup but end up staying, since they’re already there, for the band I guess.

Many cultures bring a staple soup to the table. A Japanese miso. A Hungarian goulash. A Vietnamese Pho. An Israeli Matzah ball. (Man, writing this makes me hungry.) But cultures also like to feel unique. Thus, they come up with quirks to distinguish themselves. Ukrainian borscht. China has competing starters with bird’s nest and shark fin soup. But the United States is the only place you can get good, honest beer cheese soup.

The best known soup in the West is chicken soup. This is the ideal soup if someone is in bed with a cold. Although all the studies have shown that there is absolutely no link between chicken soup and recovery, chicken soup is very salty and this saltiness makes you drink lots of fluids. And you know what is connected with curing a cold? Drink lots of fluids.

In fact, some people think chicken soup is so nutritious that it feeds their souls! Which is fine unless your soul is vegetarian. Then your soul will live longer but will have to look for something like a minestrone.

Finally, the soup is a potential comic perfection. If you are one of the chosen ones, once in your life you will be in a restaurant, hopefully a very fancy restaurant, and you will find… a fly in your soup. Please bring the matter to the attention of your server immediately. Whatever happens next, remember you’re the straight guy.

Yes, it is winter. A time for soup. And higher heating bills.

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