The zen of alphabet soup

If you buy these noodles, you will be attempted to spell things. Be warned.

If you buy these noodles, you will be attempted to spell things. Be warned.

While I am traveling (in Gdansk as I write this) this post is not about traveling. Well, not directly, anyway: in a way, it’s about leaving.

In the past month, I’ve made the sad decision to leave Poland, and have packed up my things, cleaned out my flat, had several going-away parties with friends. Now I’m doing some final sightseeing in Poland, mulling over my decision to leave, and trying to catch up on writing.

Alphabet pasta.

Alphabet pasta.

This isn’t a recipe. Alphabet soup has two ingredients: alphabet shaped pasta and broth. The broth should be tomato based; because I wasn’t feeling like tomatoes, and I had a can of crushed red peppers on hand, my broth was a jar of crushed red peppers, mixed with two cups of vegetable broth. You can add veggies (carrots are always good, and spinach cooks up nicely) but I decided to keep my soup ultra simple.

When my flatmate saw my pasta, she said, “dla dzieci!” (Polish, meaning: For kids!) with a smile on her face. And yes: alphabet soup is definitely for kids.

Sam Mills makes good gluten-free pasta.

Sam Mills makes good gluten-free pasta.

Why? Adults get all the boring, so-called normal shapes: angel hair, spaghetti, fettuccini. Boring straight lines. Lasagna is complicated, and flat as well as straight. If we’re feeling adventurous, there’s penne, or spirals… maybe even macaroni, but then that’s stumbling back into kids’ territory again. Mac and cheese may be creeping its way onto hipster restaurant menus, but it remains a comfort food, and a food most Americans associate with childhood.

Finished soup. (Which is really, really hard to photograph well!)

Finished soup. (Which is really, really hard to photograph well!)

Also, I suppose that dinosaur shaped pasta don’t cook to al dente very easily!

All lines going toward a direction, or with spirals, curly-qs that twist up on themselves. No fun bent shapes. No alphabet pasta.

So, while I was packing all my things back into suitcases, and arranging for goodbye parties, I made a bowl of alphabet soup. Gluten-free and vegan. And I did heat up some broccoli and cauliflower as the side dish. Part of me wants to be a kid, but the rest of me knows I should eat my veggies.

(And I promise, traveling posts forthcoming soon!)

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