the origin soup
on thursday I went home with a cold
looking for comfort food
not wanting to go to the store
I made soup out of what I found in my kitchen
I put it all in a crockpot, turned it on, and waited it out
after 4 hours
it did NOT taste good
I added more herbs and some fresh salsa
I waited it out
nope, not good
added more things
now on day 4 of the soup saga
added in even more things
add in tomatoes
but that can wait
until the morning
it’s now taking on
a creamy porridge texture
still slow cooking it
some beans still hard
still does not taste good
now a lot of soup
I could easily survive
the rest of the winter
if snowed in with this soup
it would still not taste good
but I would never go hungry
this might go on forever
like a sourdough starter
perhaps I can pass it on
to my children one day
tomorrow will be the best day ever
when the soup will all come together
I just know it.
“cooking is the art of adjustment.”
– jacques pepin
the recipe said it was easy
only 4 ingredients
they did not say
not to wear a white sweater with bell sleeves when melting chocolate
don’t forget that you have to individually unwrap each caramel
while chocolate is still warm and not solidifying
that the peanut butter chips won’t actually drizzle
that the caramel will come out in blobs
that the chocolate on the bottom won’t easily come off of the foil
that the slab will not actually break in the right way
that the 4 ingredients will re-solidify in the disposal
that the whole thing will not resemble the picture
that it will still taste good if people are daring enough to try it
that this will be a one-time recipe for me.
‘just because you make a good plan, doesn’t mean that’s what’s gonna happen.’
the master-chef sisters of hungarian strudel
“You need an egg, two spoonfuls of lard, and a pinch of salt, followed by flour, a dash of vinegar, and just enough warm water to create a dough with a dumpling-like consistency.” This is part of the traditional Hungarian strudel recipe that Ilona and Erzsébet, elderly sisters and lifelong baking partners, learned from their late mother. In their small village of Tura, an hour outside of Budapest, the sisters regularly bake the delicate pastry for up to 500 people for weddings and community events.
In the short documentary Strudel Sisters, directed by Peter Hegedus and Jaina Kalifa, Ilona and Erzsébet share how a family tradition evolved into a livelihood. Their quirky rapport may as well be part of the recipe—no strudel-making session is complete without bouts of bickering and singing.
“I loved the sisters from the first time I met them,” Kalifa told me, “and I knew straight away that we had to make a film about them. They are really special people with big hearts and a great sense of humor and just have this warm, grandmotherly feel, which instantly resonated with me.”
Authentic strudel-making is a dying art. It requires a certain moxie: the dough must be worked vigorously in order to activate the gluten, after which it acquires a threshold of elasticity, allowing the baker to stretch it until it’s tissue-thin and nearly translucent. Then, the filling—most commonly grated apple, brown sugar, lemon, and cinnamon—is added intermittently between the pastry layers.
While making the film, Kalifa and Hegedus were lucky enough to taste five different types of the sisters’ strudel. “My personal favorite was the cheese strudel,” said Kalifa. “Strudel is part of their DNA. They’ve been making strudel all their lives, and you can tell.”
“first bake the strudel, then sit down and ponder.”
credits: emily buder- author, peter hegedus/jaina kalifa – video/photo, the atlantic
About This Series:
A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.
with the big holiday looming
don’t spend a minute worrying about
what to do with all the leftovers
the solution is just waiting for you to discover
what’s the weirdest jello recipe you’ve ever been served?
was it considered:
a salad substitute?
a side dish of the main meal?
“it’s as if we spend our entire lives avoiding Jell-O
but it is always there at the end, waiting.”
-john grisham, ford county
image credit: kraft/general foods – vintage ad
*DO NOT EAT PIZZA BEFORE BAKING.
*(luckily i caught this very important instruction just in the nick of time)
“everybody gets so much information all day long
that they lose their common sense.”
– gertrude stein
time well spent
on a cold and sunny day
listening to music, reading words, and making soup.
“there ain’t a body, be it mouse or man, that ain’t made better by a little soup.”
image credit: jess stockham, illustrator, flip-up fairy tales