Day 70: French Onion Soup

french onion soup.jpg

Okay, I’m going to say this first. I don’t like this picture. The typography is crap. The painting is lazy. And in my defense, I’m really tired. I’m posting this later, but it’s the day before my cousin’s wedding, I’ve had a horrible cold for three days, I’ve been getting scant hours of sleep for a week, and I’ve got two commissions on hand, while doing this and working a full-time job. Yes, I’m being hard on myself as is my wont, but it is what it is.

However, I felt like this food series needed a soup. I debated over a tomato-carrot-pumpkin soup we usually make at home whenever it’s cold out or someone is sick, and lovely rasam made with garlic, and decided on neither.

I’ve had French onion soup only once in my life, and that was when I went to Paris for the first time. I was fifteen years old and was traveling with my family. We’d had a long flight and left in the peak of the Indian summer. Paris was a bit chilly and there were light rains, so being unused to the weather, we felt the chill more acutely. Moreover, we were tired from the journey. So we went from the airport to the hotel, dropped our stuff off, and went for a walk to get something to eat.

(On a side note, I’ll admit I was a skeptic about the beauty and poetry and romanticism associated with Paris, and wondered what the whole big deal was and why everyone was making a hue and cry about it until I came to the city, looked around, and a little voice in my head said, “Oh, that’s why.”)

Anyhoo, we found a little restaurant and got a seat in the back. We’re vegetarians, all of us, so finding something we could eat in a French place was a challenge. I was not in the mood for pastas and the like, I was shivering in my thin jacket, and I ordered the first thing that caught my eye, which happened to be French onion soup. I figured, hey it’s onion, I like onions, and it’s soup and hot, so why not? After some time, a steaming, thick-bottomed white porcelain bowl was placed in front of me. It smelled amazing and initially looked nothing like soup until I figured out the bread and the Gruyere cheese. It smelled amazing and I remember feeling warmer from just the scent alone. The soup itself was piping hot, packed with flavor, and with every spoonful with the bread and cheese, heat bloomed in my stomach and my mind went hazy with the kind of happiness that comes with good food.

Yes, I am waxing a lot of poetic, but I was really really hungry and chilled and tired. Also, despite being accustomed to travel and going places, I’m an introvert in my natural state and back then, I was a lot shyer than I’ve learned to work through now. So, besides all the adjectives in the first sentence, I was young and nervous, and this made me feel better.

So, that’s my onion soup story. I never had it again after that despite getting the opportunity a few times. I always felt like I shouldn’t, like I had a taste and a memory associated with it that was good and strong, and if I should try it again, it would ruin that memory. I don’t know if I will have onion soup again, but I hope that if and when I do, the story of that does not hurt this one.



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