Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Vats and vats of chicken soup

For the last three nights, I have eaten nothing but bowl after bowl of golden chicken soup, made by Babe on Sunday. It doesn’t feel monotonous, because on arriving home after a 20km cycle ride, a bowl of broth and dense, chewy kneidalach is heaven. Being broke lends itself to cooking in bulk, and as we’ve a small freezer, currently full of frozen blue grenadier (for a fish curry sometime soon) and small meals for the baby, we eat things for a few days in a row. At times, I have resisted this, and attempted to clean out the freezer ruthlessly. For example, I dreaded the curry made with 3 kilos of goat after the first two days of eating it. The kneidelach recipe comes from the side of a packet of matzo meal, and involves 4 eggs, olive oil (although the recipe says margarine), salt and matzo meal. I think the eggs are important. Recipes that use less eggs (such as Claudia Roden’s) claim to be lighter and better, however the density and cohesion brought to the kneidelah by the eggs is sublime.

The homogeneity of our diet has also included breakfast. We’ve been having banana porridge for breakfast every morning, and I made some plum and apple puree to go with it. I put two cloves in which make it taste too wintry. Although the mornings in Melbourne have been cold, until about 8am, we are still a long way from winter, and the puree has created some tension. Babe said that it was the worst puree ever made, which is harsh and wrong, and driven by the fact that Babe is usually the person who makes this, with a predictably good outcome. I think that she said this because there is something dissonant about eating a clove-laden fruit puree at the end of summer in Australia. The baby hasn’t realised this, and enjoyed it this morning. I didn’t put it on the porridge, as we were worried that it would taint the porridge, however she drank it from a cup with gusto.

It feels at the moment as if we're treading water, just about managing with money, and with one of us working, or planning to work increasing hours. In this situation, it makes some intuitive sense to have predictability in the way that we eat. We are lucky that we can make this so soulful, and that food can still inject some joy into our lives. I don't know how relationships can withstand bland and nutritionless diets, as well as work and financial strain. I believe that our chicken soup bonds our family, even when we are separated.

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