Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Made With Love...

Love bugs... if you don't want to read a long sappy, slightly emotional post about soup... I think maybe you should stop here. Also, no i'm not insane. This soup, and the man who taught me how to make it mean so much to me and I get a little emotional when I talk about it, and him.

I've always believe that when cooking there is one special ingredient that can never be left out...
It makes everything taste better...
It makes the process of cooking more pleasant...
and without it certain things just don't taste right...

That Special Ingredient???

You guessed it, Love!

Before you say... this chick is crazy, let me go somewhere else. I want to tell you a story.

When I was growing up I had a few foods that were my absolute favorite... My Nana's poundcake, my Nanny's orange pies, my Papa Stan's hash, and my Papa Reed's Perlo... just to name a few.

They're still my favorite foods today.
And over the years I've tried to learn to make each of them. For the most part I've been successful. My pound cake isn't bad, my orange pies are perfect, and while I've never made Hash by myself I've been helping my Papa Stan make it for as long as I can remember.

There was however one dish that I've never been able to get to taste quite right.

If you're my FB friend you've probably seen me post about my struggles to make my Papa's Perlo since he passed away last March. (the struggles began before then, but I could always call him and ask him what I did wrong, or what ingredient or step I was forgetting).

Me and my Papa... my best bud since day one
Every single time I've made it since he died I've been disappointed with how it turned out.

It's been too thick, too thin, too spicy, too bland, too dry, too soupy... it's always too something.

My school has an annual event during our Fall Food Drive each year where organizations and individuals make soups and for five dollars other students can taste as many soups as they can possibly eat during the lunch hour. The Judges and students vote, and the soups that win each category receive a trophy.

The money goes to the Harvest Hope Food Bank, and I've always thought this was a wonderful cause... one I am always more than happy to support.

This year I decided for the first time that I was going to participate in the "Hunger is Not a Crock (pot)" event.

When I was thinking about what kind of soup to make, only one thing came to mind. Papa's Perlo.

Photo Credit: Harvest Hope Food Bank
I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it. I was fairly certain it wouldn't come out right, and I was certain that come Monday at lunch I would have some sort of weird pseudo soup to serve my classmates. But I did it anyway.

Sunday morning I woke up before 6am... went into my kitchen and started working on my soup.
I boiled two whole chickens for this thing! I spent hours cooking, cooling, cleaning, and shredding chicken. Slicing sausage, and cooking rice.  My Papa was on my mind the whole time. I cried a little... don't worry if any of my literal tears got in the soup it was de minimus!

I burned my fingers trying to get the chicken off the bone, and burned my arm trying to strain the broth.

When I was finally done around dinner time I decided that I might as well have myself a bowl. It tasted perfect, it wasn't too soupy or too thick, it was just the right amount of salty and smokey, and it reminded me so much of  the times that wonderful man had made it for me or helped me through making it while he was here.

Monday morning I took it to school, really hoping that it would still be delicious, and not too thick by lunch time.

I had so much fun serving my Papa's Perlo to my classmates and the judges. Every time someone would tell me how good the soup was I would smile the biggest smile because deep down I knew that somewhere my Papa is so proud of his Varmitosa for making his soup, and sharing it with other people. 

Much to my surprise I even won one of the coveted trophies! My Papa's Perlo won the Children's Choice Award.

Also Known as the soup most likely to be eaten by children, and not fed to the dog.
I was so proud!

Picture Credit to Cat from Cittie Tells
Photo Credit: Harvest Hope Food Bank
But back to my epiphany that the most important ingredient is love. When I was younger and my Papa would make Perlo for me I always knew that he was making it because he loved me, and he knew I loved it.

When I made it for the cook off I was so full of love, love for my Papa, love for my wonderful classmates, love for my best friend (who got her own bowl since she hasn't been feeling good), and love for the cause because I really believe in Harvest Hope Food Bank and what they do for our community. There was so much love. How could it not turn out perfect!

So until next time... with all my love!


1 comment:

  1. I am in tears. Daddy would be so proud of you.
    I love you sweet girl.