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12 April 2007

the grace of asparagus soup

asparagus soup

Sunday afternoon. Sun shining through the skylights. The Chef and I are in the kitchen, music playing in the living room — Stevie Wonder, as I remember — and we are dancing. Our knives are chopping little staccato rhythms on the cutting boards. Our hips are swaying to the songs and our happiness at being together. Friends are coming over in a couple of hours. We have the day off.

He is chopping the stalks of asparagus, just come into season. The woody bottoms he scoops into a metal bowl. The tender tips he sets aside. He starts with an asparagus stock, which he tosses together faster than I had imagined. I walk to the living room to turn up the music — Rufus Wainwright now — and when I have returned, he has already finished. "How did you do that?" I ask him, incredulous. He just grins. Today is not the day for lessons or recipes. It is Sunday, and we are cooking.

I return to the ginger cupcakes I had concocted that morning. They need a lemon glaze. The dishwasher needs emptying. We haven't mopped the floor in days. Who cares?

Our friends are due soon. We have stopped to dance — to the Marc Cohn song we are playing at our wedding — and look in each other's eyes. We dance like seventh graders, solemn and barely moving, our feet shuffling, slightly. And then we laugh. He makes a joke I could never explain outside that moment, and I laugh so hard I double over.

We go back to the kitchen.

The sun shines, but the clouds are moving in. Luckily, we aren't going anywhere. Within a few moments, the house will be filled with people we like, including a three-year-old who will absorb all our attention for several hours. What does it matter if it rains?

But the guests aren't there, quite yet. We are alone, and laughing. And when I look over, he has finished the vivid green asparagus soup. It gleams and seems like grass, condensed, in color. He swirls it with the ladle, to stir it one more time, before he lets me take a taste. It's sunlight through green leaves, the peals of giggles from a three-year-old, a certain earthiness, the taste of spontaneity. Only a few weeks out of the year for asparagus, and we are eating it, fully. He's laced it with pepper, for a little kick. Not thin and reedy, the way some asparagus soups sit in the mouth. This one has presence.

I have no recipe. I didn't take notes. He wants to play with it, still, before we publish it.

But sometimes, recipes are over-rated. The food is only a way to connect us, these stories that sing through my head.


At 7:17 PM, Blogger Mrs. G.F. said...

My mother always told me, don't clean too much when you have company...wash the floors after your guests go..makes a lot of sense. And, according to that, you are right aon schedule.

And, that's the best thing about family, or friends that are like family, no need to impress.

Just good times. Hope you had a blast.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

found your blog recently, and wanted to say that you and the chef have made me look at food in a different way.... not that I can describe it well, but the sheer joy in the ingredients, and that you have for each other is wonderful to read about. Thank you.

At 5:56 AM, Blogger Marshamlow said...

I haven't left a comment in probably a year, even though I read you everyday. It is lovely that you are so happy and all is well. I think it is karma, you have brought so much enthusiasm for the quest toward new ingredients to so many people, including me. My family has just recently returned to the US after living overseas for 6 years and now I get to re-explore all your archives and recipes, now that we have access to all the great American glutten-free food. I saw quinoa at the store the other day and thought of you. All the best, I will have to start commenting more too.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Mystic Indigo said...

What a beautiful post...poetry with food...very nice.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger carrie smith said...

i am late to the gluten-free blog party, but i spent a whole rainy day recently catching up on old posts... i have to ask about the marc cohn song! my (now) husband and i walked down the aisle to "walk through the world" when we got married here in seattle two years ago (july). (our walk back up was to stevie wonder's "for once in my life" :)) our reception was only appetizers (my favorite) and dessert (his favorite). whoever said weddings are no fun to plan simply didn't do it right! enjoy, and please, please, please keep writing. :)

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Miss Bliss said...

I just wanted to say that I LOVE your blog! The way you write and describe the joys of food! I never did trust anyone who didn't love to eat.

I stumbled across your blog while doing a search for Gluten free dining (I recently found out that my body does not like gluten...major bummer for a self-professed foodie!)

Please keep the entries and the recipes--will be making the ginger muffins this weekend with my own personal ChefMan--coming along!

Thank you for helping me feel more connected and reminding me that there are still tons of fresh, vibrant, verdant foods I can enjoy!

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Shauna said...

Slacker Mom,

Oh yes, I agree with your mom. Anyone coming to our house expecting Martha Stewart is going to be rudely surprised!

We did have a blast. Thank you.


I'm so thrilled. If we are helping you to look at food in a different way? We're both thrilled.


So good to see you back, both on the blog and in the country. Thank you. These are incredible days. But a few years ago, I decided that any day I was alive was incredible. That's what infuses all these days.

Quinoa! Fantastic.


Thank you. I love writing pieces like this — it just demanded to be written.


Ah, Marc Cohn. It's True Companion. There's a beautiful story there, which I'll tell closer to the wedding. But the first time we heard it together, we just knew it was us. His sister and brother-in-law are wonderfully talented singer and mandolin player. They're going to sing it for us as we walk up the aisle.

(I still get a little giggly, thinking about it.)

We're going to play that Stevie Wonder song too! Small world.

And you're right. Wedding planning is a joy. All we are finding is how much we think alike, on little details we never would have guessed. This promises to be extraordinary.

Appetizers and desserts is a great way to go!

Keep writing? I promise.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Lisa-Marie said...

delicious and inspiring as usual shauna, i love to peek into your world with the chef, it inspires and renews me. thanks lisa-marie

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Tea said...

Woah, that soup looks wonderful. Spring in liquid form. Sitting here, watching the light rain out the window and the green green green outside, I could go for a bowl right now.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Sheri said...

That looks incredible - the "waves" in the soup make it look so yummy. Tell the Chef to hurry up and play with the recipe so we can all make this!


At 7:24 PM, Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

At our house, dust bunnies are a protected species. While I do make sure the bathroom is really clean and the kitchen counters disinfected, I have to say, I am not big on dusting and washing baseboards. As my kids would say "God made dirt and dirt don't hurt" (Besides they'd rather I go out and play a round of badminton with them than give all my windowsills the white glove test!) I Love my kids!

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Michelle Ann said...

I have to say, that I found your blog when I suspected that I may be a celiac....the jury is still out. He gave me the blood test when I had been gluten free for almost three months, so now I must partake of the beast....cross your fingers for me.

However, I must say, that you have one of the most beautifully written websites I have ever read. I love looking at life through eyes that are so in love. Your blog encompasses so many of my interests, you live in the Pacific Northwest (A place I would love to live), you are engaged to a chef (I used to be a chef), you have dealt with an illness (as have I), and you have such a talent for writing (I truly love reading.) Anyway, I just love your blog and I voted for you in the Blogger Choice Awards. Well done!

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Les said...

I wonder if the song is True Companion. It's one of my all-time favorites.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Les said...

Ah, I should've read the comments before posting mine. It *is* True Companion (which I've just listened to on my iTunes as I typed this). :)

At 3:35 PM, Blogger brandy said...

I'm so happy!! Last year I found out I had celiac's and have found that most of the food now deemed acceptable to eat taste like a cardboard. I can't wait to try out some of the recipes you've listed! Perhaps then, I will stop complaining on my blog about always being hungry....

At 2:41 PM, Blogger dc365 said...

This is, in my humble opinion, the very best picture you have taken yet. The others have all been beautiful, but this one is alive. There is movement. It makes me want to dive into a pool of asparagus soup!


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