SOUPY WINTER BLUES
When I was 16 years old I was obsessed with the idea of being “grown”, meaning being an independent adult. As I was going through my rebellious teenage years my very Jamaican mother would always say to me “while you live in my house, you follow my rules. When you can push your own key in your own front door then you can whatever you want.”
So for the two years leading up to college I dreamt about being able to “push my own key in my own door”. Granted that door would be a dorm room, but it would be my dorm room with my rules. That action, the movement of being able to open the door and enter into a space that was truly mine -- void of weird porcelain tchotchkes and all -- felt like the most important step towards womanhood. I would officially be grown and I was convinced that I was ready.
The night before I left for college was a balmy post-summer, early fall evening. It wasn’t hot enough to justify using an air conditioner, but there was still a hint of stickiness in the air that sent my mother and I outside to enjoy the last hints of summer breeze. In hindsight I realize that my mother was simply trying to spend as much time as possible with her baby girl before she left home for the first time, but being the asshole that I was I couldn’t stop declaring how excited I was to leave.
My excitement and smugness turned to disbelief and confusion when after setting up my dorm room my parents said “Okay, bye see you in a few weeks.” I responded “whoa, whoa, whoa, guys what’s going on here? What are you talking about? Where are you going?” And I immediately started to cry. Like ugly cry. Like Kim Kardashian cry. Like snot coming out of your nose and you can’t get a sentence out cry. I was scared and nervous.
My first week away from home was the first time in my life that I felt true loneliness.
Although I was surrounded by thousands of young adults that were probably experiencing the same thing, I had the weight of trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be on my shoulders, and I was the only person that could figure it out.
The second time I felt that similar crushing weight of loneliness was after my separation.
Before my marriage came to an end, the actual level of grownness that I had achieved surpassed all of my expectations of what being grown would actually be. I was “pushing my own key in my own door”, I was married, I had 2 college degrees, a job and I was living in Paris! I thought that it could not get anymore grown than this. So there I was again with my excitement and smugness about living in Paris and being married to a Frenchman.
Until I wasn’t anymore.
Again, my smugness turned to disbelief and confusion, with a few weeks of ugly crying as my marriage crumbled. I was comfortable in this new identity, I had my life, I had someone to come home to every night. Starting over again was of no interest to me. I believed that there wasn’t anything si grave that a few therapy sessions, a nice vacation and a sexy new dress couldn’t fix, right?
Spoiler: all of those things fixed absolutely nothing.
So here I am 16 years later, growner than I ever thought I could be, yet reliving the same vulnerable, fear and uncertainty that I associate with the feeling of deep loneliness that I felt my first week of college.
As I started to cook more I found that warmth is what helped to temporarily relieve my loneliness. And the quickest and fastest way to feel said warmth is with a bowl of soup. For me soup acts as a blanket for the anguish and confusion that can sometimes accompany adulthood. The combination of the smooth velvety texture and pronounced flavors feel safe. It’s a meal that is equal parts comforting and filling.
When my loneliness gets the best of me the simple act of preparing and eating a bowl of a soup is an intimate moment that makes me want to wrap my own arms around my body and give myself a hug.
I am not sure when these feelings of loneliness will end, or how, but until then I have my soups to comfort me.
Soupy Winter Blues
Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup w/ Lardons
1 medium sized butternut squash peeled and cut into cubes
½ sweet potato peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup of water
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
100 grams of cubed lardon
Add the water and stock to a pot
Add the vegetables, black pepper to the stock and bring everything to a rolling boil
While the vegetables are doing their thing add all the lardon to small skillet or frying pan, no need to add any oil as the lardon will produce its own
Cook the lardon until brown
After about 15 minutes of boiling the vegetables should be easily pierced with a fork
Drain the vegetables and reserve the water + stock it was boiled in
Keep only ¼ of the garlic that was cooked with the vegetables
Add the vegetables, the ¼ garlic and about a ½ cup of the reserved water in your blender
Add more water as necessary depending on your desired consistency. I like my vegetable soup quite thick so I tend not to add a lot of water
Once you’ve achieved your desired consistency, add more salt and pepper to taste
Once you’ve added enough salt and pepper to your liking pour into a bowl and top with cooked lardons