I have become an expert on soup. I have a few recipes that I can whip up in the crock-pot that I enjoy – broccoli cheddar, Tuscano kale, a basic chicken noodle that I sex up with salsa – but I bored of my own cooking quickly after my jaw surgery. Twelve days into my eight-week liquid diet, it was time to venture out.
Harmon’s, the local grocer, has a variety to chose from in their deli. One standout is the red potato and onion. It is generously loaded with bits of thick country cut bacon and small pieces of celery to fool you into thinking you ate a vegetable. The sharp cheese flavor is unsubtle and aggressively salty. It might actually be too salty. It’s hard to tell when I’m simply delighting in the fact that, fifteen minutes after I have it for dinner, I can still taste it. Just as though I really ate something.
Wasatch Brewery’s corn chowder is creamy and sweet. The color and flavor is fresh and sunkissed; there are no brown or tinny notes of canned corn. Normally I would exclaim “and not too filling” as a positive attribute, but that isn’t my problem right now. Right now I worry that I’ll ever feel “filled” again.
I know Noodles & Co. is a chain, but their tomato basil bisque is truly lovely. There is slight complexity in the flavor, as both the citrus and the earthy tones of the tomato are featured on different levels. Still, this is not an adult soup. It is lively and bright and would pair perfectly with a crisp buttery grilled cheese cut diagonally for optimal dipping, the molten cheddar webbing out between the fanned halves. Alas… the grilled cheese will have to wait.
“Four weeks in, you are really going to want a burger,” my surgeon told me. “That’s what all my patients say.”
This is week four, and I don’t miss hamburgers, per se. Don’t get me wrong; I could go for a burger. But it isn’t what comes to the fore when the hunter-gatherer part of my brain starts to forage for ideas while the rest of my mind is still focused on another task. It isn’t any particular flavor, actually. What I crave is texture and density. A variety of temperature and solidity. Sustenance that will resist and put up a fight, and not voluntarily be lifted by a spoon.
I want to break a cold branch of celery with my incisors and then crush it mercilessly between my bicuspids. I want to feel the greasy graveled skin of a deep fried drumstick against my lower lip just before I tear into the muscle, releasing the steam as I peal it back to the grey and purple marbled bone. I want to stab through layers of steak, potatoes and an over medium egg with the tines of a fork and then force the too large perfect bite through my lips and onto my tongue where the flavors will splash and mix and divinely expire, reduced to mashed splendor and disappear. Bite. Chew. Repeat. Heaven.
Hell. I’d kill for a crouton. Just something crunchy to top my tomato bisque.
Not yet, though. This is week four. Four more to go.
There was a part of me that was really looking forward to this surgery. That was, very specifically, the part of me with post-election depression that allowed me to put on an extra ten pounds that I’m calling my “Trump bump.” I was told that I would lose at least ten pounds, maybe more. I’ve lost five. I’m blaming that on the fact that cheese is so easily liquidized, especially in – for example – hot soup. Now I can see that as soon as I get the green light to chew those five pounds are going to come right back. And then some, if I’m not careful.
After all, I make a great grilled cheese.