Legacies in Soup

Soup is the start of every meal in Portugal

Soup is the start of every meal in Portugal


Hank: Mama, this is the best soup. Thank you.

Me: I didn’t make the soup.

Hank: Who made this delicious soup? Papa?

Me: Nope, your prima (cousin Monica).

Hank: It is so good.

Me: She told me this is the first soup she has made all on her own and that it tastes exactly like her mom’s soup, which happens.  In Portugal soup is a legacy. It carries the memory of the maker. No one makes soup like your mother or grandmother.

Hank: Like when prima (cousin Monica) tasted Avó Dalia (grandmother’s) canja (chicken soup) and cried because it tasted like our Avó Avó Aldina’s (great-grandmother’s) canja (chicken soup)?

Me: Exactly. You lean to make soup first by observation and then by helping prep the veg and then you can just make it, but it always tends to mirror the teacher. I learned to make soup from your Tia Candida (aunt) so my soup tastes like hers.

Hank: You didn’t learn to make soup from your mom?

Me: America doesn’t have the same tradition of soup as Portugal. My mom taught me how to make stews which are more like cozido than soup or else we eat soup from a can and we don’t eat soup twice a day like you do in Portugal. You are not eating a meal unless it begins with soup. No soup and you’re just having lanche (a snack).

Hank: (making a face as if something smells bad) And you like soup from a can?

Me: We like it because that is all we know. I didn’t know I liked Portuguese soup until I started living with your papa. There was always a pot of soup on the stove which was bizarre in American especially for a twenty-something grad student. And when we had dinner parties your papa always made soup and our friend went gaga for it. It was so delicious and so simple and perfect, but not of our culture, so it felt exotic and super chic. Your papa learned to make soup from Avó Dalia (grandmother) and Monica learned to make soup from your papa’s Tia Amélia (aunt), her mother. And I completely agree, this soup is delicious.

Hank: I have always wanted to go to Luxembourg and now I want to go for Tia Amélia’s (aunt) soup and hugs. She gives great hugs. Prima (cousin Monica) learned to give hugs from Tia Amélia, too.

Me: Truth.