Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Back By Popular Demand

(Editor's note:  This article ran back in December 2012, but there have been so many requests for it the editors have decided to give in /take a holiday, and run it again.)

Back in the days of little boys in short pants and little girls in crinolines, Mrs. Hall remembers many a Christmas eve spent propped on a cushion and pushed up the big people's table, starring down a bowl of the inevitable first course to what seemed then like the Meal That Lasted At Least Two Days.
Forced to endure this annual ritual, it generally involved listening to a flock of elders drone on endlessly, then dawdle over stripping the table, washing every dish in the house and then sometime about oh, midnight or so, decide that perhaps we might just let the little ones open those pesky Christmas presents after all.  And the opening salvo to this supreme tantalus of an evening was always a steaming bowl of sauerkraut soup.

Some foods come naturally to a child, like ice cream and birthday cake. Others have to sidle up slowly to their little senses, and after much wooing and pleasant talk, eventually make nice with the infant's tastebuds and a new favorite is born.  The giant mushrooms floating atop the sauerkraut soup like grisly lilypads on a murky pond did not come to be on Mrs. Hall's list of Happy Anticipations by any of those routes; they were imposed, as things often were in those days, abruptly and absolutely by martial law.
Despite however, these rough beginnings, the glorious heady broth and winey aftertaste (if perhaps only by repetition) finally wore their way into her heart.  And yet another generation grew that could not imagine a Christmas eve going by without a family around the table, impatience and anticipation intertwined and the saying of Grace over an beloved bowl of sauerkraut soup.
Mrs. Hall's phone rang last week and it was Master Ian calling from Okinawa, Japan.  He was hoping Mrs. H. could wrap up a jar of her sauerkraut soup and ship it out to him for the holidays.  When asked about Christmas, Erick remarked last weekend that the one thing he was going to miss this year was having that wonderful soup at the beginning of the meal, and just Tuesday afternoon, as the Halls drove out to join family for dinner, Colleen texted Mrs. H. that she too was dining with friends, but it wasn't the same without the soup.  The circle will not be broken.

(Editor's Note: In case the Gentle Reader would like to inflict tradition on a brand new generation of innocents, the recipe for Sauerkraut Soup can be found here.)

Tell your friends!