All good Polish girls must learn to eat their soup, properly

My grandmother began my training at an early age. Spoon-to-mouth method mastered, hand steadying the bowl, I still regularly had tomato soup with drop noodles running down my face.

“What, do you have a hole in your chin?” chided my Babcia, handing me a napkin and a severe look as my tongue searched, catching drips.

I was instructed to always tilt the bowl away; As good as the soup may be, it’s still never polite to tilt the bowl towards you for those last good bits. 

One day, I was alone in the dining room eating my usual bowl of after-school soup. Babcia was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Determined to follow the rules and seal up the hole in my chin, I focused on the tilt. Away from me went the far lip of the bowl, and I scooped and slurped, and tilted and scooped, and tilted until the tomato soup slipped out of my control and all over the table. 

Babcia came in to see me looking abashedly at my lost soup. She immediately set a rag to the mess and said, “See? That’s why you always tilt away, because it’s better to have soup on the table than soup on your lap.”


Found In Translation

Saturday mornings are for catching up on note-writing from the week while I wait for the dust to seep out of my clothes soaking in plastic bins and buckets outside. I write in Spanish with some inserted English words. I take a break to respond to an e-mail from my mom. I try to write in Polish, thanking her for a postcard she sent me, but my mind is still in Spanish mode and I think first of otra instead of inne for “other,” of tengo instead of mam to say “I have” the other postcards you sent me taped to my wall. I notice that this is the first time I can switch directly from Spanish to Polish. Usually English is my home base, my thruway, my point B that you must pass through to get from point A to point C.