Just A Soup It Is Not!

April 11, 2012 § 3 Comments

In pairing food and life stories, there is one particular dish that consistently stands out throughout all my “adult life,” or more specifically, my last 30 years.

When I first arrived in New York City, coming from France some three decades ago, I had never heard of Matzo Ball Soup.

My only exposure to Jewish food had been at Jo Goldenberg’s restaurant in the Marais in Paris (it closed in early-2000 after serving Ashkenazi fare for nearly 50 years). A colorful joint catering mostly to Gentiles who wanted  a taste of the “real thing,” “authentic” and so inevitably touristy and featuring dishes that many local Jews thought were a far cry version of the simple delights and daily offerings of a Jewish family kitchen.

So the first time Matzo Ball Soup appeared in my life was upon my first meal with a new friend I had met two weeks before (and who eventually became my husband), at Fine and Schapiro, an Upper West Side neighborhood deli, and accompanied by his three brothers and one cousin (the poor guy! I realized since that he would have much preffered to ditch them that day…).

Little did I know the significance of the moment when I first got a whiff of the steaming, home-evoquing, mouth watering concoction.

The Soup, indeed significant in cementing our relationship, and Peter (who became my boyfriend), both jumped in my esteem the day Peter brought me a bowl of the hot and fragrant, Cure-All-Blues-And-Ailments Jewish Penicillin and set me up comfortably in his own bed less than an hour after I had two wisdom teeth extracted.

Multiple times followed when a flu, a rainy day, or simply the urge for warm comfort demanded a prompt serving of The Soup.

I’ll just name a few, some momentous and some less so: Coming home from the hospital 48 hours after the arrival of each of our four children; during a couple of  New York City’s paralyzing historic blizzards and hurricanes; and at the end of  many of the long hauls back from Europe and being greeted by an empty fridge.

But don’t get me wrong, The Soup has also been part of larger festive occasions: At Peter’s grandmother’s Passover Seders, surrounded by her large family, when we were still living in New York, and later, in our own efforts to follow the tradition, at our Seders at home in our predominantly Gentile New England State.

So in some ways it is, and I believe always will be, the cement and symbol for the bonds that Peter and I, our children, their school and college friends, and our  handful of close non-Jewish friends who have shared The Seder with us over the years, very much treasure and intend to nourish for life … with a bowl of the “Liquid Gold.”

I made a batch this past weekend and finished this plate right after I took the picture*.

*I would not dare give you my own recipe knowing that it will pale in comparison with the many delicious and “genuine” versions one can find online and which are almost as numerous as the different spellings of the word “Matzo.”

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