When I was young and growing up in Pennsylvania, our regular family vacation consisted of a long drive to Florida or South Carolina to stay for a few days in a beachside house or motel then drive back home. Often we were in the car for twice as long as we were at the beach. As a kid, I thought it was what all families did, but as an adult I learned it was pretty unusual.
You see, my parents didn’t package the driving as separate from the beach going. It was all part of the trip. Each year we’d make a pilgrimage to familiar stops: South of The Border for fireworks, a huge southern eatery whose cornbread sticks we’d been dreaming of all year, a historic site or two for my history-buff dad. The drive wasn’t just about the destination.
Cooking for soup club, or in big quantities in general, reminds me of those trips. It is easy to be daunted by 7+ pounds of carrots to peel or leeks to wash or apples to core but I, for one, refuse. I like the peeling or the methodical chopping that renders a giant pile of produce ready for a big batch of soup, the sharp strong smell of spices being measured by the tablespoon, the familiar (and always thrilling) sizzle of oil in the pot, the undeniably energizing smell of garlic and onions and all the comings and goings in the kitchen during those hours of soup making. When my kids or my husband cook alongside me, we have conversations that just don’t happen in the rush of everyday. I find out more about what’s happening in school or my husband and I brainstorm to solve a problem at work. We riff and make connections, listen to some new or favorite music, talk about what we’ve been reading.
We do that thing that I feel I always crave, we just hang out. Soon enough or maybe too soon, the soup is simmering away, the dishes are done, and life picks up at its usual clip.
This spring I’m taking my family on a road-trip in classic Allison-Family-style where the journey is definitely the trip.