Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Empson soup

I might get a mid-day phone-call: 'Jones, I have a young poet coming
to lunch. I'd be very glad of your support.' I would find him in the
kitchen in the fawn dressing-gown which he habitually wore over his
clothes as a comfortable house-coat, busily making last-minute
preparation and turning a mess in a saucepan. This was 'Empson soup',
a dish which almost defies description. It was concocted from a Heinz
tin, to which was added sundry left-overs of vegetables he had tucked
away in corners of the fridge, plus the left-overs of yesterday's
soup, so that one day's soup would not be noticeably different from
the next. There was a large quantity of solids – butterbeans, chunks
of celery, slabs of cabbage and bits of boiled egg, and much reduced
and recycled gunge, but one would not have been surprised to find
anything in it, even false teeth. You could not stir it, you could
only turn it over. He ate it every day and Hetta maintained it was the
cause of his ulcer.

John Henry Jones, 'Diary', LRB 17 August 1989

1 comment:

Emma said...

Augustus was a chubby lad;
Fat ruddy cheeks Augustus had:
And everybody saw with joy
The plump and hearty, healthy boy.
He ate and drank as he was told,
And never let his soup get cold.
But one day, one cold winter's day,
He screamed out "Take this soup away!
O take the nasty soup away!
I won't have any soup today."
Struwwelpeter