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.”

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Beet Rhythm

I finally cut up the giant beetroot I bought last week into deep-red, marbled cubes. Using the largest cooking pan we had and vegetables and spices, I produced a wok-ful of tomato and beet soup by the end of the evening. I thought about the tangy beet broth we always have on Christmas Eve and explained to my co-worker that yes, I love soup, because Polish people eat it all the time. Now things feel normal.