The Thrill is in the Leek

 Copper Kettle by Eva Andrews //

The Thrill Is In The Leek byAndrew Morey //

When I read the words “…make a recipe for Vichyssoise…” I thought to myself that there was no chance I could make it, given that I couldn’t pronounce it. However, after what seemed like many sunlit days of staring at the word, my palm smacked hard into my forehead. “Vee-Shee-Swahs”. Of course I’ve heard of Vichyssoise before. That clever Mask character mentioned it in his inaudible pick-up lines in French. Though I never knew what it tasted like, or what was in it, or even that it was a soup.
After reading Anthony Bourdain’s article, Food Is Good, I was full of anticipation for my first spoonful of Vichyssoise, since Bourdain made it out to be so influentially and peculiarly delicious. A quick internet search not only yielded me Bourdain’s recipe, but the chef who is considered to have contrasted so heavily to Bourdain, Julia Child’s recipe. No offense to Tony, especially considering that I prefer his entertainment value, but given that Julia’s cooking show was called “The French Chef”, I went with her methods.
Potatoes, onions, chicken stock, simple enough. So simple, in fact, that I knew their prices at my local grocery store by memory. After combing my loose change box for enough cash to satisfy my simpler needs, I noticed a few ingredients I’d rarely heard of.
Chives. I’d heard of them before, naturally, but couldn’t put an image to the word. After jotting them down on my list without a price in mind, I moved to the next ingredient: Whipping cream. Whipping cream, in soup? Not in my everyday Campbell’s can. But I thought, a creamy soup doesn’t sound so bad.
Then, the recipe called for Leeks. I’d never eaten nor heard of Leeks before, so I assumed they were one of those weird green things called vegetables that made up the terrifying jungle that is the produce section of the market. The only vegetables that I stick pretty firmly to are lettuce, broccoli and carrots, and it’s not as if there are a whole lot of those in my diet anyhow. After gearing up with an extra borrowed $10 from my old man, just in case, and all my bravest jungle gear, I hopped in the car and headed off.
Boy, was I lost. I found the simpler roots and ingredients easily enough, but when it came to the seemingly boundless expanse of leaves that nobody has ever heard of, I looked like a fool as I slowly walked down the aisle, reading every individual tag. There it was! Leeks! They looked somewhat like an onion that was wearing a tall, leafy Pope’s hat. They were within my budget, I sacked them up and moved on to checking the tags for the chives. As I walked, the humidity was endless. The relentless, monotonous walking, step after step, my feet getting heavier each time I moved them, seemed like it would go on forever. Then, after what seemed like years, I sensed the smell of the candy section in my nostrils and I knew it couldn’t be much longer. And, of course, it wasn’t. There were the chives, the little green sticks. My mind wandered to the first person to look at little green sticks and think they might be something that wouldn’t kill him if he stuck them in his mouth. They were very cheap, so in they went.
When I arrived home, I cleared the countertop, took out my cutting boards, dishes and knives, and decided I should wear a toque, or a chef’s hat. But after a quick and messy search of my house, I came to the realization that I’m not a chef, and do not own a toque, so a rumpled up white shirt may do the trick. It didn’t, so I conceded that hair wasn’t so bad.
First step, chop the Leeks. But only white parts. What a waste of Leek! The white part consisted of maybe four inches, leaving one hundred million inches of leafy Leekness there to rot! If one could eat the green sticks that are chives, why couldn’t one eat the Leekness that was present and already paid for? But, the instructions were clear. It was with tremendous regret that I threw away said leafy Leekness. The Leekness that got away…
Half way through chopping, I realized that my eyes had suddenly burst into an evil, vicious hellfire that sought to devour my existence. Not only did Leeks look like a cute little onion wearing a hat, they made you cry like a cute little onion wearing a hat. I decided I might as well get the misery over with, and chopped the onions with the Leeks. The bawling was immense.
After chopping the potatoes and the chives, I dumped all the vegetables into a pot full of the chicken stock and set it to simmer, as it said in the instructions. With time to kill, I moved on to less productive motives, as it said it would take thirty to fifty minutes for the vegetables to become soft. After an hour of obnoxiously serenading my brother with a musical repertoire consisting of “Linger” by the Cranberries, “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, and “Gangnam Style” by the distinguished Psy, I went back into chef-mode. Next step, puree the mix. With a blender.
WITH A BLENDER, PUREE THE MIX! WHY ON EARTH WOULDN’T IT HAVE ME DO THIS EARLIER, INSTEAD OF DRAIN ALL THE WATER FROM MY BODY THROUGH MY EYES?! As a grumpy raisin, I scowled and tossed the mix into the torture device, blending it to death with no remorse or sense of sympathy.
When the evil deed was done, I poured the now-creamy mix back into the pan. The next instruction, mix in the whipping cream. Gotcha. Uneventful. After it was finished, I dressed it up all pretty with the chives on top, a leaf of cilantro or two, in a fancy bowl and a silver spoon, so that I could carry it through the house, feeding it to my family like an excited child. Naturally, the only person to actually taste it was my dad, who said it wasn’t bad at all. My pride couldn’t be contained. Then I asked him for a cash tip for my kindness and generosity, which he denied, with laughter.
Finally, I had a taste. My expectations were high as I scooped the creamy sauce onto my dolled-up spoon, and excitement flooded me as I lifted it to my lips. After it went down, I thought to myself, “This is…Onion soup.” And that’s exactly what it tasted like. Plain--not fancy, not exciting--onion soup. While it didn’t taste bad, it wasn’t the tremendous liquid gold that I was expecting. I think it goes without saying that the experience of preparing the soup was much more eventful and satisfying than the soup itself, which endorses one of my favorite quotes by Mystery novelist Agatha Christie, “The thrill is in the chase, never in the capture.”