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It's not about the food.
There are more important things to be considered, written, shared, but I am sitting here thinking about soup. Specifically, the soup I have not made, again. The ingredients are in my fridge, waiting, the intention was pure when I bought them a week ago. And every day since then I have found reasons not to make the soup.
Making the soup feels like climbing a mountain. In fact no, it feels like organising the expedition to get to base camp in the shadow of the mountain. Making the soup asks my brain to do things it refuses to do. The soup itself is simple to make, the mountain straightforward to climb — we’re not talking Mount Everest here — but getting to the kitchen to make the soup is beyond me.
The soup is not a metaphor. The soup is soup I want to eat, vegetables I want to put in my body, the “healthy” version of me I want to be, but still, the ingredients sit in the fridge while I sit in this chair and WRITE about the soup, unable to get out of this chair to make the soup.
Neurodivergent guilt soup. That’s what I call it. On the rare occasions the soup is made I take photographs of my herculean effort and send them to my sister. “I made the soup!” I declare with a flurry of soup-related emojis like 🥣 and 🧄 and 🥕. But mostly the ingredients will be put in the food recycling caddy and taken away, wilted and unused, a month after I purchased them. Until then they will sit in the fridge and every day I will look at them when I reach for the oat milk or butter or something I can heat in the oven that doesn’t require executive function, and I will think — today. Today I will make the soup. Today is the day. It’s going to feel so great. I’ll have lunches sorted for a week. Yes to the soup!
But I will not make the fucking soup.
It was easier to make soup when I lived with my ex. Back then our soup was pasta dishes and ratatouille and at one point I was into making houmous from scratch. I quite liked tending to our nutritional requirements to offset the amount of alcohol we enjoyed. Ah your twenties, when you can afford to spend whole weekends recovering because you’ve all the time in the world.
I had better executive function in my twenties, that’s for sure. You couldn’t pay me to go back, but I wouldn’t mind a smidge of that lovely bubbly energy my younger self took for granted. I remember my ex casually saying he wouldn’t fancy me any more if I put on weight. I was dressed in a sweater that showed a sliver of my tummy when I raised my arms — it wasn’t even cropped, but my jeans were low-waisted like all the jeans we wore in the 90s. I have one photo that was taken later that day. I’m standing next to my grandmother in the shade of the big tree in their garden. My left arm is around her shoulders; she’s smiling and so am I. My right hand is placed in such a way that it looks like I’ve got my thumb hooked in the pocket of my jeans, but truthfully I was holding the hem of the sweater in place so it wouldn’t ride up.
I don’t remember feeling calm in my twenties, there was so much striving going on. It felt like a race to hit all those terribly urgent milestones. I had the degree and the coveted job and the boyfriend. And we tried to have the baby but that didn’t happen and by then the relationship was wilting like the savoy cabbage that’s sitting in my fridge. I’ve read people say they enjoy cooking, that it relaxes them, that’s it a wonderful way to unwind at the end of the day. I believe them. I bet it’s lovely to mindfully chop and sauté and steam, to create the kinds of dishes that fills your family’s tummies with all that food as love. To look forward to the cooking, the tending, the sharing.
I should make the soup. I should make it for me, to fill my tummy every day for the whole of this week. It will feel so good. Yes to the soup!