by Christine Baker
It was a typical wet, gray, cold, but not too cold, Louisiana winter day when I found myself in a new local restaurant. As I perused the gluten free options on the menu, I noticed they offered vegetable beef soup. Someone at my table said, “I’ve eaten here many times and the vegetable beef soup is delicious.” I wanted something light and a cup of soup sounded about right, but the kind waitress talked me into ordering a whole bowl.
When my order arrived, I sniffed the curls of steam arising from the bowl. It smelled wonderful. There were ample bite size chunks of vegetables: potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and a good amount of cuts of beef. The stock was a great color and just the right consistency. My mouth began to water with anticipation. I slowly took my first sip trying not to burn my tongue. My eyes rolled back in my head. This soup was delicious and reminded me of my Dad, a man who lived in a different time, a man who always worked hard from sun-up to sun-down six days a week. Except Sundays. On Sundays, you couldn’t find him at church or in the yard or out-and-about. Instead you could find him in our humble little kitchen making vegetable soup for his family.
The laughter at the table brought me back to the present. I eyed a square of cornbread that apparently I had failed to notice had come with the bowl of soup. It was not gluten free and I therefore could not indulge, but ahh, the soup nostalgia continued. Growing up, our little house never had much by the world’s standards, but it had loving parents who spoke French and then English, a rice pot always on the counter and almost always on and a cast-iron skillet, that when the soup was on top-of-the-stove, the skillet was in the oven filled with cornbread.
As I continued to eat, savoring each bite, I thought about what my Dad would say about this restaurant. I came to the conclusion he would have liked it, maybe even given it a “C’est bon” after eating. Then I thought about our country and how in the ten years since he’s been gone, our little world here in North America has changed quite a bit. What would my Dad think about all of this political turmoil? He was a lover of all things politics, having once been a Sergeant-at-Arms on the floor of the Louisiana Senate. He lived in a time when men were real men and didn’t leave the bargaining table for a scotch or a cigar until they came to a compromise and shook on it. That’s what they did. That’s who they were. My Dad would say, “Men needed to be men and do what men do, work hard, make the right choices, compromise, shake hands on agreements and stick to it and cook vegetable beef soup for their family on Sundays.”
I’d not expected a sip of vegetable beef soup to bring me down memory lane, but good food does that. It not only tingles and tantalizes the palette, it warms the soul.
If you get a chance, stop by The Main Dish in Alexandria, La and order a bowl of vegetable beef soup with a side of hot buttered cornbread. Have a seat and savor this simple, satisfying delicacy passed down through the ages.
Christine is an Author/Inspirational writer/Bible Translator