Published 9:36 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I’ve never been a real big fan of soup. I mean, I like it well enough, but I’ve always considered it like one of those courses on the fringe of the culinary experience. It’s not exactly a meal in my eyes. It’s not exactly a beverage in anyone’s eyes. It’s just something to toy with until the big slab of meat comes.
Then, not too long ago, I decided to try a recipe I found online for a Caribbean soup called callaloo. It’s a soup I’d only heard of from past acquaintances of Island origin. Particularly, an old friend had a girlfriend from the Islands who raved about her mother’s “callaloo pot.”
She never got around to making any callaloo for me. I think she broke up with my friend before my Caribbean meal ever made it to my table.
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And since I’ve always been less than enthusiastic about soup anyway, I never gave it much more thought. It was just one minor food adventure slipping through my fingers. No big deal.
So out of curiosity on Monday, I made callaloo from the recipe I found online. You know, in life, you come across food dishes that are good, yet merely the sum of their delicious parts. Then, there are dishes that are really good and the result of many years of trial and error by many people to arrive at a splendor that is well-earned and reflected in its taste.
And then, there is something like callaloo, where a combination of ingredients comes together so perfectly that it is not just a recipe but as if one has conjured something mystical and not of this earth.
And you almost wonder if the Internet should allow its users access to something so unnaturally — perhaps illegally — tasty.
After taking my first glorious sip, I re-read the ingredients and the instructions, making sure I did not accidentally substitute my fairy dust for the chopped onion or a magic love potion for the five cups of water.
Nope. It was all just spinach, onions, garlic, okra, coconut milk, water and crabmeat. All things I have eaten numerous times before. But there, in my humble little pot, was a warm, flavorful, hearty nectar, no doubt the treasured meal of an ancient island god.
In making callaloo, I discovered a newfound respect for soup. I now respect it for what it should have been to me in the past and what it will be to me in the future. It is no longer a fringe food item to me. It is now a full-fledged friend and valued associate in all of my future food adventures.
Welcome to the fold, soup. You have callaloo and the little trip to the islands I recently took on my stove to thank for your induction.