One of my fondest school days memories is a grade four geography project. Our teacher put us in teams and gave each team a country to research and report on. At the end of the unit, we put on a cultural fair for our parents and other classrooms. Each team hosted one of the booths set up around the perimeter of the classroom.
What country did I get assigned to? France. Trying to ignore pangs of jealousy for the kids on the African, Asian, and South American teams, we began to brainstorm. One thing on the list was which French food we would provide samples of. My vote for fries was quickly bulldozed by the safety issues of a deep fryer in an elementary classroom.
The next best thing? Pea soup. As if France wasn’t bad enough. Now nobody would come to our booth.
I was a naive child. In the end I was proud of us, decked out in berets. I was also proud of the booth we ran, with its red-and-white checkered tablecloth and café atmosphere.
But oh, the soup. I can’t remember whose mom made it, but it was silky-smooth and a bright crayon-green. Sweet, with a gulp of robust legumes. Fresher than chili but more satisfying than your average, pedestrian vegetable soup. Parents were passing up chow mein and strudel for our soup.
I don’t know why, but I didn’t eat pea soup again until a few months ago at a friend’s house. It was one of those simple suppers — one I’d never think of making, but that delighted me with every slurp. Pea soup went back on the back burner.
And then I bought a cookbook that convinced me to try it for myself. With one success down, I decided to go for it. After all, the first day of spring passed on Friday with nary an offering from me—how could I be so ignorant? A new season, one of my favorite things, and a warmer, friendlier one at that.
To you spring, I offer this bowl of pea parmesan: surpassing my expectations with its richness, the heartiness of a passing winter and the freshness of new green.
Good thing seasons don’t eat soup, because I’m a selfish sparrow.
*bracelet by Rachel Sudlow