The experience that made me like pea soup
My mother makes the best soup in the whole world.
I may be biased but it’s true. The only soup of Mom’s that I didn’t like was pea soup. And only because of the texture.
At any time of the day, any day of the week, Mom has a large pot of soup simmering on the stove.
But on the off-chance that she doesn’t have a fresh pot, there is always a yogourt container full of soup in the downstairs freezer.
Growing up, we sat down to dinner at exactly 5 p.m. Dad arrived home from work around 4:45 to 4:55 depending on whether he rode his bike to work or not.
No matter what the weather outside, our first course was a bowl of soup. Mom claimed that if it was hot outside, the hot soup helped to even out our temperatures and keep us cool. If it was cold outside, the hot soup helped to warm us up.
Soup was followed by a meal of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. The meat and vegetables varied every night but the potatoes were usually boiled.
I particularly loved Stamppot, a traditional Dutch dish. Mom would boil carrots and potatoes together and mash them with loads of butter. This meal was always combined with Rookworst (a Dutch sausage).
We ate this same meal of soup, meat, potatoes, and veggies every single night.
But one cold winter night, we did not sit down to the usual dinner.
Mom and Dad decided to take us to an event put on by the church. We arrived on a dark afternoon and were escorted to the basement of the church. Long laminate folding tables were lined up from one end of the hall to the other. We sat elbow-to-elbow on hard wooden chairs. A server brought us our meal.
A bowl of soup.
It looked more like a bowl of broth. I could count the number of noodles.
I left hungry.
This experience was set up to soften our hearts towards those who had to visit soup kitchens on a regular basis. It was meant to grow our appreciation for the abundance of food we so often took for granted.
And it worked.
I stopped complaining that Mom’s soup was too hot, the meat had a strip of fat on it or the vegetables weren’t my favourite.
I appreciated the bushel of apples that we stored in our cold cellar. Even though I ate an apple a day (as my dad told me it would make my hair grow) it never emptied.
I no longer complained about the Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies, quite possibly the most boring breakfast cereal, that overflowed my bowl when I added the powdered skim milk.
I recognized how lucky I was to enjoy Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) on my sandwiches, drink Pop Shoppe on weekends, and crumble my Speculaas cookies over vanilla icecream.
At a young age, I realized how truly blessed I was to have such an abundance of good food.
And I even learned to like the pea soup.
If you like open, humourous, and nostalgic stories like this one then you’ll love this memoir of young life experiences that take you down memory lane. Buy East City Girl: A memoir of growing up Catholic in a small town to learn how your childhood experiences affect your adulthood today!