We all know now about the bombings that happened in Paris Friday evening, but I found out from a woman who interrupted a conversation I was having with a young flamenco dancer's mom, after a show where Charles had just performed with several other students, teens to adults. I didn't go online to learn more, or even tell Charles, because I really needed that not to be the story of the evening, yet. But of course it was the first thing I read in the paper when I got up Saturday morning. My reaction was probably not much different from anyone else’s, to horror that can’t be put into words, but that it seems no one can keep from trying for words anyway.
A few minutes before 11 Saturday morning I went out to a little indie theater near our house to see a movie on Impressionist painters. It was sold out. Now, this isn't the new Bond movie we're talking about, it's a documentary on the Impressionists, so the fact that it had sold out at an 11 a.m. Saturday morning screening surprised me.
“I hate it when I think I have an original idea and realize half of Santa Fe had the same idea,” I said to the woman in front of me while we waited to find out about the next showing. She was elderly, and a little hard of hearing, and I had to repeat things.
“I think we're here because of what happened in Paris," she said. "We want to connect with them over something positive.”
Now, I’m fairly sure that wasn't my motivation, even unconsciously, but I loved what she said, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Friday evening, everything was about survival: hundreds in Paris fighting for it, many losing; millions and millions around the world then asking ourselves what we would have done, what we should do if it happens here, whether we're safe if we don't go to France, or Europe, or big cities, or stadiums. And Saturday morning, people were going to art movies, and calling their children, calling their loved ones, maybe making French onion soup, who knows -- anything to affirm life and love.
Sometimes it seems everything we read or hear anymore is about survival, what we must do to protect our planet from all we’ve done to imperil it. Things like this remind me that it is not just the mighty task of survival that matters, but the things of this life that we intuitively love – the shade of a tree on a hot day, a butterfly, a hawk on the branch of the apricot tree, food, family, friends – the daily moments that make the difference, the difference between Friday night and Saturday morning.
Comfort is in the taste buds of the beholder. I've never made a French onion soup, but here in my adopted home of Santa Fe, New Mexico, comfort comes in the coupling of pleasure and pain that we experience from hot green chile. Use or omit from this creamy chowder as you wish; likewise the bacon, which figures more as a supporting character here than a central one.
6 pieces bacon
2 cups diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 diced red pepper
2 diced potatoes
1 quart water or broth
Thyme, oregano and/or basil
1 package frozen corn (or 6 ears fresh corn, shucked)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or milk
Fresh cilantro to garnish
Cook the bacon until crisp, then chop and set aside. Saute onion, celery and red pepper in vegetable oil in a heavy soup pot until the vegetables are tender. (I like to cook bacon in the oven, although you could cook it in the soup pot, remove and drain, leaving a little bacon grease in the pot for cooking the vegetables.) Add the potatoes, water or broth and herbs, and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn and cook another 10-15 minutes. Before serving, add the cream or milk and heat until just before boiling. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the chopped bacon. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro before serving.