Archived Story

Some savory soup gets sublimely slurped

Published 9:57am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

I wrapped a large bow around the car parked outside our garage. It was a gift for my wife. No, I hadn’t bought The Queen B a new car for her birthday, but I did have the oil changed in her old car.

You should have seen how excited my bride was. She called me one of those sweet names she saves for special occasions and gave me a chilling look that made me want to warm up with a bowl of soup.

Most of us have eaten chicken soup when we’ve had a cold. A Mayo Clinic newsletter had this to say, “Chicken soup might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.”

I don’t know if eating soup when you have a runny nose is a good idea, but I’m sure that noodle soup is brain food.

It’s nice to know that my mother was right about chicken soup. She was wrong about the wet hair. She warned that if I went outside in winter with wet hair, I’d catch a cold. A wet head in winter caused me to shiver, but it didn’t give me a cold.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the more psychological stress people are under, the more likely they are to get colds. Going outdoors with wet hair was stressful. I laughed at Cousin Eddie in the “National Lampoon Vacation” movies when he said things like, “I don’t know why they call this stuff Hamburger Helper. It does just fine by itself. I like it better than Tuna Helper myself.”

Cousin Eddie never concerned himself with whether or not wet heads cause colds. He probably laughed at me. Oh well, at least I don’t have a metal plate in my head. I do know that men’s colds are worse than women’s. You can do your own research to determine the validity of this statement. Just ask any man.

I watched “All in the Family” and learned that there are two kinds of people in this world: shlemihls and shlimazls. A shlemihl is the person who spills soup and a shlimazl is the person he spills it on.

My neighbor Crandall’s house has a liberal immigration policy regarding rainfall. In other words, his roof leaks. Crandall doesn’t eat soup when it’s raining, because the bowl fills faster than he can empty it. It’s still better than eating the homemade soup his sister Cruella makes. She has 17 housecats.

I like my soup hot. I blow on a steaming bowl of soup to cool it. Evaporated particles form a cloud of vapor above the soup, saturating the air and preventing more evaporation. When I blow on my soup, I diffuse that vapor. That clears the air, making room for more evaporation, thus cooling the soup.

My wife and I like soup. We’ve attended more soup and pie feeds at churches than we could count. We went to The Grand Cafe in Lake Mills for its weekly soup night featuring various kinds of soup, wonderful breads and breadsticks, fine service and great grub. The Cafe walls are covered with photos and license plates, and the all-you-can-eat menu guarantees I’d have an ample sufficiency. The Grand is like the Soup Nazi on “Seinfeld” if the Soup Nazi had been nice. Another diner told me that he wished he’d had rubber pants pockets so he could take soup home.

Not all eateries are as pleasing as The Grand Cafe. I recall being in a greasy spoon featuring a sign reading, “If you like day-old soup, come back tomorrow.” I ordered soup so thick that when I stirred it, the room went around. A man sat down next to me and ordered a bowl of soup. “I’m sorry,” the waitress said, pointing at me, “but the gentleman next to you has the last bowl.” I’d stopped slurping the soup.

“Are you done? Could I have the rest of your soup?” the man asked. I moved the bowl in front of him and he started eating. He was such a noisy eater that six diners got up and danced. Shortly thereafter, he discovered dead box elder bugs.

“Yuck,” he said, “I just found bugs in the soup.”

I nodded and replied, “That’s when I stopped eating.”


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.