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Nuts to Soup!

Dinner requires a fork

I don't consider soup a meal. I know it can be and people can live on it if necessary but to me it's something you slurp when you're cold to stop your stomach from making embarrassing noises before the real food arrives.

Soup can be quite delicious (my friend, Chef Daniel DeLong of Manka's Inverness Lodge, makes what I consider to be the most delicious soup on the planet), but that still doesn't make it a meal. Chocolate is also delicious but it, too, is also not officially recognized as a meal (though I personally can be satisfied with a nice bar of dark chocolate).

Yes, there are some soups which are, in fact, really chili or stews and they can pass as a meal. They have less water and more rice or barley or meat or chewable lumps of things. I'm from the old school where if your spoon stands up in it, then it starts to enter meal territory. If there's just a lot of water, no matter how flavorful, it's merely a precursor to a meal. And if it's a consommé (pronounced "con-sue-may" - a see-through broth containing nothing edible except for the liquid--it's really more of a hot salty drink in a bowl), well, forget it.

A consommé aside: the only time I've been served something actually called "consommé" was at a dinner party in a fancy condo overlooking the Bay. A ruby red consommé arrived, looking kind of like melted cranberry sauce, and tasting remarkably like the ocean, which is fine for a lick or two, after which it could double as the kind of laxative they give you before a colonoscopy. No one could eat it and there were no potted plants to inflict it on. So we took turns, distracting the hostess, while we'd sneak into the bathroom carrying our consommé cups and flush away the colorful evidence.

Back to soup--I have had entire meals consisting only of soup and bread, but I chalk that up to the fact that I could have entire meals consisting of just bread. If the bread is good enough, like fresh warm sourdough, it doesn't need anything, though a little butter never hurts, and certainly never hurt James Beard who ate his bread fresh from the oven and, in his own words, "slathered" with butter. And he lived to a ripe old age. So man can live by bread alone, if the bread is good enough, and if by "alone" you mean it includes butter or peanut butter or a piece of cheese.

But I digress; this man cannot live by soup alone. My wife is currently trying to prove me wrong. She found a particular brand of soup she is obsessed with. She doesn't call it obsessed, she says she's "Jonesing" for this soup. I think it's verging on an addiction.

I have to admit the soup is good. It's from that famous chef with his Austrian accent who always does the Oscar parties. His first name comes from Mozart and his last from A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Your challenge for the day--figure it out.

My wife's favorite is a tomato (or to-mah-to) soup with some green stuff floating around. I'm not sure what that is, basil maybe. Green stuff floating around is usually a red light for me, but this is very tasty. WITH A SANDWICH, preferably grilled cheese.

But no, for her, it's a bowl of soup. Maybe accompanied by a piece of mozzarella (which, of course, is food). Still, this is not a meal in my book and I refuse to accept it as such. And yet--it is dinner. Take it or eat cottage cheese.

She gets this way. Once when we visited Los Angeles for a week, she bought what seemed like a side of corned beef and a rye bread the size of a four year old child. I'm the first to admit that this particular deli is special, and the first night the sandwiches were transcendent. The next day, at lunch, they were very good. By dinner that same day they were good. The next day, as this cycle repeated, they were only tolerable by basically turning them into Swiss cheese sandwiches with the corned beef waved over them, like vermouth in a dry martini. And yet she was happy, eating the same sandwich, day in, day out, for almost a week, by the end of which I was trying to find someway to go off by myself and have, I don't know, anything, a burrito, a salad even.

But now it's soup. After a few days of this I moved on and made my own meals, which, when I'm desperate and hungry may be some hummus and pita (mmm, for a few days), then perhaps a chicken breast thrust under the broiler until it looks like the remains of a wildfire, or even some leftover burrito from my favorite place called Mi Pueblo which makes them so large I can make three meals of one.

But now I was out of food and out of ideas. She recommended soup! "There's that chicken enchilada soup you always love," she said, between slurps. I do like this soup, which doesn't really taste like an enchilada but does kind of taste like chickeny-sour-cream and spices--what's not to like there? But I traditionally eat it with something--a quesadilla, tortilla chips, saltines, a brisket, something. Tonight it was just soup (and a wedge of cheese, just for something to chew).

That was about a half hour ago and I'm hungry again. It's not my imagination, my stomach is making noises, and they're not happy, contented noises, they're "what was with that soup?" noises.

So later I'll have some cottage cheese. And look forward to tomorrow when we're going out and will have to eat at a restaurant where you can bet your bottom dollar I won't be ordering soup.

Daniel Will-Harris

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Looking for some great music? Standards, vocals, swing? The kind of songs with melodies. The kind of songs you can play real loud to annoy your kids (more likely they'll end up liking Nat King Cole and Rosemary Clooney and Bobby Darrin and downloading them excessively on iTunes, but that's OK!).

This online radio station plays consistently great music (if you like this kind of music, which of course anyone with a modicum of taste should, so I'm assuming you do, and if you don't you need to have your taste level checked by a qualified professional).

The music player works best in Internet Explorer because then it shows you the songs being played, and it's a great way to discover new singers (such as Michael Buble, or the amazing Renee Olestead--listen to her sing before you read about her), as well as wonderful classic singers.

While you're at it, go to http://savenetradio.org/ and do your part to help save Internet Radio, which is threatened by new, unreasonable royalties. I'm all for fair pay for intellectual property, but the new laws coming in are not reasonable.

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You may or may not know that I invented something called "Wallet Reading." http://www.will-harris.com/wallet.htm - It's like palm reading, but with wallets, and it's fun and informative. I'm writing a book about it I plan to have available later this year.

Sometimes, after a reading, I suggest ways to rearrange your wallet to help you rearrange your life--basically to remind yourself of your priorities. I did it to my own wallet--putting my previously neglected business card up front where I could see it, and moving my well-worn Sees Candy gift card to a place where I wouldn't see it and want to eat it quite so often.

One interesting thing about wallet reading is that in the 25 years I've done it, I've never seen the same wallet twice. I don't mean the same contents and arrangement (though that's true, too), I mean the same physical wallet. The closest thing I've found is immature men who carry those nylon wallets with velcro (fine if you're under 18 and a surfer, but otherwise a sign of immaturity).

I bring this up because I've discovered an entirely new kind of wallet online. It's called "Wallet 2.0: the wallet from the future." Designed by Steve Gates, you can see and buy it here: http://www.aeroportz.com

Now, given my incredible knowledge of the whole time-space continuum business, I'm fairly certain it can't actually be from the future and the more appropriate tagline should be "FOR the future," but that's neither here nor there, and certainly not from the future.

The wallet itself is unique and different, more like a filing system for your pocket than a traditional wallet. First, the wallet is made of soft silicone. It has a flip-top and inside it's filled with translucent plastic file folders for ID, money, credit cards, misc, and even coins. It's not too thick and it's certainly the most high-tech and unique wallet I've seen.


Edit your existing site anytime from anywhere right through your web browser! Takes less than a minute a page to set up. Clients love it—and you'll love it, too. Make changes in real time without special software. Service starts for as little as $9.95 a month. Give it a try right now—for free. http://www.EditMySiteOnline.com


http://www.heifer.org/ You can change lives and bring hope and possibility to the people who need it most by giving the gift of an animal to a needy family. Heifer has helped more than five million families become self-reliant. Gifts start at $20 for chicks. It's a great gift for the person who has everything, for the person who doesn't. http://www.heifer.org/ or call them at 1-800-422-0474.

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P. S.

P.S--Do you think Soup counts as dinner? What's in your wallet? Write and tell me!



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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2008, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.