Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Bean Soup and the Writer
Somewhere in the conversation I started to bring up Donald Graves and was asking my mom, who happens to be a former second grade teacher, if she owned any of his books. We talked about how writing was going in my class lately and the struggles I have had figuring it all out. We finished our conversation and went about our day.
About an hour later she called me and said she couldn't stop thinking about my bean soup and how it was just like the little writer's in my classroom. She was right.
You start with dry beans and a ham bone. You soak the beans overnight. You can't rush the absorption of water into the bean unless you apply some heat. I choose to let the process do what the process does. I wait.
I make a ham stock. I throw in the bone, lots of water, some bay leaves, salt and pepper along with the mirepoix--the carrot, onion, celery base that goes in practically all soups. The essential materials to the process of making a good soup. A good foundation of flavors. Hours pass until the liquid has reduced by at least half if not more. After straining the ingredients through some cheese cloth a beautiful, pure golden liquid is revealed.
Then, and only then does the soup itself really begin to take shape. All those parts, the beans, the bone, the brothy liquid, the mirepoix, they lay the foundation of this soup. The soup can't happen until all those little steps are in place and prepared.
Just like a little writer. Soak, wait, reduce until it is packed full of all the beauty it can muster and then create the next chapter for all those ingredients together as something new.