I'm a little ashamed to say that I was not excited about the Wednesday Cafe soup-making this week. I felt like I used to at the end of the semester when every paper seemed like a variation on a theme, a formula that needed only a few new items keyed in. I looked to some cooking blogs for inspiration - French blogs since I was hoping to do double duty and practice my French as well.
Et voila! I found a soup that looked so pretty, although with different ingredient than I had on hand (I could see baby corn and mushrooms floating in theirs) - but with a lovely embellishment: an ice-cream size scoop of rice on top. Oo la la! I did have some lovely vegetables to play with - bright orange sweet potatoes, pink-skinned white potatoes, deep green collards that I knew would look pretty in a curry-tomato base. A quick phone call to a friend/volunteer to bring some dried parsley to add a finishing touch to the rice, and the soup was ready for the tables.
It was tasty, pretty, and festive, and it made the whole preparation process fun and... fulfilling. The servers seemed to enjoy the reactions from the guests who had the nicest things to say about it. But they always do; it's a great crowd to cook for.
The whole thing reminded me that a lot of things can swing between "drudgery" and "art" depending on what you bring to it interiorly. The exteriors - the beautiful ingredients - are absolutely necessary, like quality paint for a blank canvas. But the outcome of any creation takes and gives some of the "artist's" heart. It's so much better to have one's heart in the work.