Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow 2, spontaneity, soup

Posted by PicasaFigures in a landscape.
Dave King comments here two days ago on train conversations. He says that he would be more disposed to talk to someone who opened a conversation as he sat down. But he wasn't sure why.
I'm not sure either, but I think it has something to do with spontaneity. It seems more natural and uncalculating than a pondered approach after exchanged glances and clearings of the the throat. Having witnessed my Mother-in-Law at work, I still found her example hard to follow. Only once did I manage it well; and then only after an evening' s drinking, on my way home from London.
I recall walking past the old Blackfriar's Station and noting that, among European destinations embossed above the portal was St Petersberg (at that time still known as Leningrad). I turned right up Fleet Street and made my way down the Strand to Charing Cross, still full of good cheer. On entering the compartment of the train I was struck by a sense of despondency among what were to be my fellow passengers (in those days passengers sat facing one another, a potentially more convivial arrangement than the present aircraft style seating where you look at the back of neck of the person in front of you). The faces were tired and drawn, and most sheltered behind newspapers. As I sat down, I said to the person opposite: "Do you know if this train goes to St Peterberg?" The newspapers rustled, were raised and lowered and raised again. But I was saved: someone smiled. Then someone laughed. The conversation that ensued was lively and varied, touching politics, travel, history and everything was wrong with the world. and one or two things that were right with it. The 50 minute journey home seemed to last five. Or that's how I remember it.
Another day for soup. Finely chopped carrots, celery, green beans, an onion and a clove of garlic softened with two rashers of bacon also chopped. When the vegetables are transparent, chicken stock is added ,and with the stock a chopped skinned tomato; and with the tomato some small pasta shells and a tin of borlotti bean. The rest is a matter of seasoning and tasting until the desired flavour and consistency is achieved. Oh yes, and you should, at this point ,add some slices of sausage from the new Polish shop round the corner. If there isn't a Polish shop round the corner, something from the supermarket will do.


CC said...

Hey Joe, Your snow looks just like ours! ;-)

We're having a fabulous blizzard as I type.

Roderick Robinson said...

I'm glad it turned out well but if it hadn't... One to pass on to me and then I could have wriggled in embarrassment on your behalf while you, insouciantly, gave yourself over to pleasure.

The Crow said...

Snow is almost knee-deep here and still falling. I'm following your lead and making soup, too. Haven't decided just what kind yet, but I'm sure it will be tasty. Soup is like that, you know.

Think I'll call it Clean-out-the-cupboard soup.

Alison Wormald said...

Chunkily chopped up butternut squash adds a lovely sweetish flavour to soup. I also make gravy with all the vegetables to start with, then strain it and serve the veg separately.
I'm envious of your snow. we only have the barest smattering in Manchester; not enough to sledge or ski.
If I sat opposite you on a train, I'm sure I could not resist starting up a conversation. My husband and children are sometimes slightly embarassed, but admit that I have some fascinating encounters by breaking the ice!

Lucy said...

A very warming post all round, love those snow figures, and always appreciate how people like to put on red!

Unknown said...

CC It's even better today, after an additonal sprinkling last night. Literally like icing on a cake fine but crunchy under foot.

BB I think I was past being embarrassed, which paradoxically is perhaps why it turned out alright.

Crow: The pleasure of clean-out-the cupboard soup is the creative process at work - daring something strange- adding- tasting - adding something new. Theonly problem is that while you can add you cannot really take away.

A W I use butternut squash a lot. Cut into chunks and roasted it can be used, I find in risottos, cold in salad and yes,certainly in soup. Its most attractive quality is the way it caramelises when roasted. Its flavours concdentrate and it becomes a sort of vegetable toffee.