Today in England it is Mothering Sunday. My friend Dave Hingsburger sent me this in response to Friday's post, Found Treasure about Mum's Potato Leek Soup recipe. With his kind permission, it seems like the perfect post for today, when I am thanking God for my treasured Mum. with whom I will be talking this morning.
I sat peeling potatoes and glancing down at the recipe. It was deceptively simple and, concerningly lacking in herbs and spices. But I was determined to make it as written. I'd found the recipe on your blog and loved the way it was written. It wasn't one of those impersonal recipes, it was from Mother to Daughter and if you listened carefully you could hear the voice behind the words. I remember when we were in England last and drove through Alvechurch on a whim. We loved seeing the town you'd written about and it was easy to imagine you there. Though we've never met your mother, we'd seen her picture and when we saw the town we knew that she, like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, fit snugly in her surroundings. Making her soup was a means of us talking about the day in Alvechurch, our friendship with you and allowed me to remember, out loud again, how we first met in the big house where you made home for those who hadn't one.
When we lived in Quebec we loved cooking for the church dinners or when it was our turn to do tea after service. I'd make huge cakes for the tea. Our biggest casserole dishes would be pulled out for the dinners. I'd spend hours looking through cookbooks and figuring out how to adapt recipes to our vegetarion lifestyle. We got good at it. The church folk took some time getting used to eating flavourful food that wasn't meat based - but they did get used to it and we never brought any left overs home. There was somethign very spiritual in bustling around a kitchen preparing food for the nourishment of others. There is an intimacy there that is hard to explain to those who don't simply get it. I know you get it. I read of your cell groups and family dinners and I know that you too like to make food that makes welcome.
As Joe pureed the soup he gasped as it turned into a wonderful silky consistency - creamy without cream. We tossed in, just like your mother had written, the slightly fried vegetables and then let it all simmer together. We were making, in our home far from your home, another memory. A Belinda memory. A memory of a mother we'd never met but knew we'd love. Recipes shared do that don't they?
We had the soup and loved the simplicity of it. We knew that this was a soup that came out of hard times. This was a soup made of penny potatoes and left over vegetables. This was a soup of necessity that women of our mother's generation made in order to feed our hungry stomachs. It's strange to me, that only years later that I realized that what fed us wasn't the food, but the hand behind the food. Your mother's hand made this soup. Your mother's hand wrote the recipe. Her gifts to you was one that you shared - history, love and cramped words on crinkled paper.